A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Mary Ford Neal

Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?

Mary: I’ve always written – my job involves a lot of academic writing, and I’ve done a bit of creative writing now and then over the years, but I only began to write poetry in a serious way, and submit my work for publication, early in 2020. My main influences are other contemporary poets and 20th century poets – my favourites include Sinead Morrissey, Zeina Hashem Beck, Don Paterson, Kim Addonizio, Jane Hirshfield, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, GB Clarkson, Maya Popa, Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Larkin, and TS Eliot. I admire earlier poets of course, especially Hardy and Donne, but they don’t influence the style or content of my own writing in the way that contemporary writers do.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Mary: When I was unwell and on leave from work in late 2019 I began writing poetry quite prolifically, which I’d never done before, and then in early 2020 I began submitting it to magazines. So I suppose that was the sudden turning point when I ‘became’ a writer, having never really attempted to write much apart from academic articles before.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Mary: My dad (who was also my high school English teacher) got me into reading poetry long before I ever thought of writing it. And the poetry friends I’ve made in the last three years have been an amazing support – they read my work, give me feedback, and encourage me to believe that my writing has value. My academic background is in Law, not poetry, so I haven’t had access to the support system that people who study poetry at university often do (tutors, supervisors, classmates, etc). I’ve had to build that for myself, but I’ve been really lucky with the people I’ve encountered.

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Mary: I grew up in a working class community in the West of Scotland in the 1980s. I don’t travel very much outside the UK, so by far the biggest influence of ‘place’ on my work is the place I’ve lived since I was born, with one or two brief interruptions. It’s had a really profound influence on the content of my work, the rhythms and speech patterns I use, the attitudes and idiosyncrasies of the speakers in my poems, the role of faith and family, and so on.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Mary: I think if you write poetry, almost everything you write has profound meaning to you – my work’s not straightforwardly autobiographical, but it incorporates hugely personal elements into non-autobiographical contexts. This is true of both of my collections, but my first collection ‘Dawning’ (Indigo Dreams, 2021) is the more emotional of the two for me, because of the context I wrote it in, so if I was to single out something as particularly meaningful, it would be a poem called ’The sea-wife’ from ‘Dawning’.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Mary: Listening to music, binge-watching TV dramas, gong for long walks.

Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?

Mary: I think my favourite line that I’ve written is from the opening poem (‘Jane’) in my second collection ‘Relativism’ (Taproot Press, 2022): “She is a raised eyebrow.” It’s my favourite because it really sums up the woman who inspired the poem (my late grandmother), and readers often feed back to me that they get a really strong sense of her from that line.

Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?

Mary: I’m not inspired by calm or meandering music. Dramatic music with a strong bassline and a clear structure is definitely more likely to help me write, and that could be anything from punk to baroque to electronica to ballads – as long as it engages the emotions. One song that almost always makes me end up writing when I listen to it is ‘Hanging Around’ by The Stranglers – I seem to find anger quite a good prompt!

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?

Mary: I recently launched my second collection, ‘Relativism’, which was published by Taproot Press in August this year. https://taprootpressuk.co.uk/our-books/

Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Mary: I can’t think of anything!

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Robert Allen

Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most?

Robert: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. When I read Sylvia Plath and Theodore Roethke in high school and knew then that I wanted to specifically be a poet. The work of Roethke and Plath seems to always be in my head; they were “my first poets”, so they are dug in deep. Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot came later. Currently Anne Carson makes me want to be a better poet. She’s inspiring. Rita Dove is amazing. Sharon Olds. Joelle Taylor. Just some current poets I appreciate.

Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Robert: Times spent in 9th grade in the public library in the poetry section.

Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Robert: my awesome wife

Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Robert: I grew up in Seattle but moved to Northern California later in life. I’m influenced a lot by California, it’s weather systems, it’s beauties.

I studied abroad at age 21, and that time was highly influential to my way of viewing the world and how I express it in poetry.

What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Robert: I wrote a piece called The Fire Trilogy, which was published by Roi Faineant Press. It’s about climate change, and I just like the way it turned out musically with a theme extremely important to me. I also made a shared chapbook (with two other poets), “Disjointed”, that I am very proud of.

Favorite activities to relax?

Robert: reading poetry, writing poetry, walking

What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always comes back to you as an inspiration?

Robert: I listen to Vedic chants or old western music like Perotin, Hildegard, stuff like that when I write. I like it in the background while doing a poem. Mostly I listen to hip hop, which has its own musicality in terms of sound and sense. It makes its way into my poems no doubt.

Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you would like to promote?

Robert: Books, poetry coaching information, and workshop schedules are all available at www.robertallenpoet.com I just completed my first full length manuscript and I’m currently seeking a publisher.

Any funny memories or strange occurrences you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Robert: My strange occurrence was bipolar disorder. Crossing over to a bipolar life in my 20s is reflected a lot in my writing, especially the worldviews where anxiety can meet healing–or it doesn’t meet at all. Also, a certain kind of darkness, with the possibility of climbing to the light, making a heaven of hell.

BIO: “Robert Allen lives in Oakland, CA with his family, where he writes poetry, takes long walks, and seeks beauty everywhere. 2021 nomination for Best of the Net.”

www.robertallenpoet.com

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Eniola Abdulroqeeb ArówólòA

Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most?

Eniola: I started writing in 2019 , but intentionally in 2020. I’d say every poet with a dab-hand in language intrigues me but if I should a poet that influenced my writing, that will ultimately be Kaveh Akbar. Whereas,  being exposed to the works of Derek Walcott these days, I am beginning to get immersed. 

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Eniola: If I should give an answer to this one, it would be a nebulous and vague one. Because I don’t think there’s particularly any moment I feel I wanted to be a writer. I just seem to know and establish, even right from when I began writing, the fact that there’s a need to let the world in on my woes and wins. 

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Eniola: There are fairly many Nigerian poets who helped me most with my writing. But I think I’d be damned if I failed to mention that Mrs. Samantha Beardon, an obscure British poet, helped me largely in Poetry. 

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Eniola: I grew up in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. And there are quite a number of things in Ibadan that influence my language and style of Poetry some of which is the origins and narratives of the emergence of the place. 

As regards travels, I don’t do much of that. Although, my tour travel to Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife helped my recently-completed hybrid of the death and activism of George Iwilade, a renowned student activist killed in the 1999 OAU massacre. 

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Eniola: Most meaningful work? I have quite a handful of them but my poem BROKEN ABECEDARIAN in Temz Review still stands out the best for me. 

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Eniola: I get to see movies, read, and talk writing. 

Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?

“i am sorry if I have bored with my sorrow once again.”

Q8:What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song that always come back to you as an inspiration?

Eniola: I don’t really do music but any emotional song of the 90s work for me. 

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?

Eniola: I think every reader/person should read Nomad by Romeo Oriogun.

Bio: Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò is a Nigerian writer and a member of the Frontiers Collective His works have appeared—or are forthcoming—in 4faced Liar, Fourth River Review, Rulerless, Perhappened, Kissing Dynamite, Lumiere Review, Temz Review, Afritondo, Kilimanjaro Voices, and elsewhere.

Twitter Handle: @eniola_abdulroq

Links:

https://www.thetemzreview.com/poetry-eniola-abdulroqeeb-aroacutewoacutelograve.html

https://www.perhappened.com/purelighteniolaarowolo.html

https://www.thefourthriver.com/tributaries-newnature/2022/8/3/omyal

https://www.kissingdynamitepoetry.com/eniola-abdulroqeeb-arowolo-ayekooto.html

https://www.afritondo.com/afritondo/new-lagosian

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Cora Siré

Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most, now and currently?

Cora: When I was 5, my mother gave me a notebook and said, “Let your pencil wander.” I’ve been writing ever since. At first, I wrote short reviews of the books I borrowed from the children’s library. Then poetry, and a short story when I was 10. Of course it took years before my work was eventually published.

My influences are eclectic, cross-cultural, and in a continuous state of flux. I would include Latin American poets such as Borges, Bolaño, and Delmira Agustini, Europeans such as Kosovel, Szymborska, Lorca, and Pushkin, and many Canadian poets such as Anne Carson, Jan Zwicky, and Steven Heighton. I’m also continuously inspired by the many poets in my community.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Cora: There’s a huge leap from doing some writing to committing yourself to be a writer. I started preparing for that leap when I was 25, and faraway from home, in a place called Salta in northern Argentina. Finding myself uprooted and with some free time, I recorded my experiences, the characters I encountered, and the magnificent Andean landscape and culture. Argentina made a writer out of me.

Q3: Who has helped you most with your writing and career?

Cora: My writer friends and local community groups such as the Quebec Writers’ Federation have been instrumental. I’ve had many mentors, including my teachers in writing workshops and courses, the editors who helped me craft my stories, essays, poetry, and books, and the writers I meet at events and festivals. I try to open my heart and mind, be receptive to the teachers who come my way, listen to their advice. It’s an ongoing process.

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Cora: Montréal, where I grew up and live now, is a city of exiles, artists, and poets. Our community thrums with a cultural vibrancy that informs my writing.

One theme I explore a lot in my work is the question of belonging versus nonbelonging. My parents were refugees from Estonia who came to Montréal like so many others displaced by war. We stood out in our neighbourhood for the languages we spoke and our demeanour. This perspective of being an outsider is most evident when I’m writing about Latin America.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Cora: It’s always my latest book. Which is currently Fear the Mirror (Véhicule Press, 2021), a collection of stories. The book, a hybrid of memoir, fiction, and nonfiction, is my most urgent and personal work to date.

Q6: What are your favourite activities to relax?

Cora: Because writing is so sedentary, I try to walk, swim, or dance every day. I also play piano. Lately, I’ve taken up the ukulele which has been liberating. I’ve given myself permission to be bad at playing the ukulele which makes it all the more fun.

Q7: What is a favourite line/stanza from a writing of yours?

Cora: The last lines of my poem, “Note to a Mapless Self.”

“Take flight you trampoliner, dare to tumble, somersault, vault bluewards and be true to Pushkin’s promise to the angel: Not in vain you’ve sent me light.

This poem, from my latest collection of poetry (Not in Vain You’ve Sent Me Light, Guernica Editions, 2021), reminds me to be playful and authentic. Writing is a lot like bouncing on a trampoline, I think. It takes courage to fling yourself up high.

Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song that always comes back to you as an inspiration?

Cora: My music is as eclectic as my reading. It’s a weird mix of rock, folk, blues, classical, tango, and any band featuring my friend Dac who sings and plays drums and piano.

I have a multitude of songs in my head that compete for space, but a line I really love (from “I’m Not Afraid to Die” by Gillian Welch) is: my hobo soul will rise. It speaks to my origins as the child of a long line of refugees.

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you’d like to promote?

Cora: My latest book, Fear the Mirror, is available in bookstores and online from my publisher (http://www.vehiculepress.com/q.php?EAN=9781550655773).

Bonus: Any funny memory or strange occurrence that you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Cora: This was both beautiful at the time and strange in retrospect, like so many writers’ pandemic stories. My friends and I put on a show called March in the Beauty that featured our writing and music in a place called Résonance Café. It was a thrilling night on a Friday in March 2020, with lots of people and a great energy. The next day, Montréal went into lockdown and all public gatherings were banned. It was the last show we performed together for over two years!

Cora Siré is the author of five books – two poetry collections, two novels, and her latest, a collection of stories, entitled Fear the Mirror. Her fiction, poems, and essays have appeared in many anthologies and magazines in Canada, the US, Mexico, and Europe. Her work has been translated into French and Spanish. Author website: www.quena.ca.

Interview with EIC David L O’Nan with Anastasia Abboud on Grains of Sand : About how I write, my weird thoughts and a few of my revised Cohen Avalanches in Poetry Poems.

Click the link below to check it out 🙂

https://www.anastasiaabboud.com/grainsofsand/interview-poet-david-l-onan

Current bio for Fevers of the Mind’s David L O’Nan editor/writing contributor to blog.

Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan Anthology available today!

Available Now: Before I Turn Into Gold Inspired by Leonard Cohen Anthology by David L O’Nan & Contributors w/art by Geoffrey Wren

Bending Rivers: The Poetry & Stories of David L O’Nan out now!