An interview with Stu Buck of Bear Creek Gazette

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept
of your project, blog, website


Stu: My latest book is my third collection of poetry, titled Blue, the Green Sky. I would say the theme is similar to the rest of my work – things that aren’t there, things that you want to be there, the
way childhood affects your adult life in ways you never really understand, the vastness of space and the endless quest for an answer to the questions that matter the most. I have moved away
from confessional poetry in the last few years and this new book actually contains my most varied work. It has two much longer pieces which I would say are still poetic but constitute a
progression of the themes and ideas I always deal with, allowing them to flourish into different
styles and themes. Does that make sense? That seems very pretentious.
Stu


2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?


Stu: My mental health has got a lot better the last couple of years, which runs alongside the abandonment of confessional poetry. I have become much happier but also much more curious.
am obsessed with death – the ways we die, what lies beyond, whether we deserve to die. To me,
the idea of outer space and death have always been linked. When you read that stars are made up of the same basic thing as humans, you can’t help but be inspired. I want to believe that when we
die we go somewhere beautiful. I want to believe that I deserve to go somewhere beautiful, and in
the last few years I have begun to understand that if that place does exist, I need to work a lot
fucking harder at my life. I am not religious, just confused.


3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?


Stu: I started writing as a way to cope with things I didn’t feel I had a handle on. I am an ex-addict and
someone who has suffered greatly with mental illness. So my first attempts at writing were, I
think, the same as a lot of peoples. Catharsis disguised as verse. Something screamed inside me
and the only way I felt I could handle it was by writing. This was probably ten years ago now,
maybe a little more. So that was when I discovered what writing could be. In terms of
progression, I’d like to think I have got better. Beyond that, I think it is just wonderful that we can
write things down and people will read them.

4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?


Stu: Huge fan of Andrew McMillan. I have worked with him in the past and he is not only incredibly talented but extremely lovely. His first two books, Physical and Playtime, are classics and the two
best books I own. When I first read his work, I felt like he was writing specifically for me. About me. Poetry and art is subjective and I wouldn’t say there is a league table of poets. But if there
was, he’d have won the title by Christmas. Music wise, I love folk music, specifically 60s and 70s folk rock. I listen to almost anything, although I cant listen much to deep house anymore because it reminds me of the embarrassing
amount of drugs I used to do.

5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and
often become parts of a poem?


Stu: Jigsaw Puzzles are my latest obsession. I tend to become obsessed with things. I love reading of
course. At the moment I’m working through the Discworld series which is fun. I first read them
when I was too young to understand the satire, so reading them again has been great. I do watch
some television, but mainly nonsense programs like Battlebots or Bob’s Burgers. I used to watch
2 films a day but I live 10000ft up a mountain and we can’t stream anything. So it’s crap TV or
nothing. We have two dogs, one a puppy, so we walk a lot. Its a 35 minute round trip to the
mailbox here. Stupid really but once it snows its impossible to get up the drive.


6) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

Stu: I like free verse. I dislike rhyme or constraint. I started out writing haiku and tanka which was a
great way to learn about making the most of a few words etc. but now I just go for it. I dont often
edit. I am writing my second novel at the moment and I find a routine is useless for me. I just
sometimes feel like writing. I can write 4000 words in 2 hours or I can go a week without opening
the laptop. My life has got a lot less chaotic in recent years but I like to think I will never have a
writing routine. That is one step too far.


7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence
your writing?


Stu: I have traveled all over the world. So I write a lot about the places I have been. My current
writing project which I mentioned above is half travelogue, half gay love story. I guess both those
things are important to me. I’m not gay. Just confused. I also write about childhood a lot and how
we see things differently when we haven’t been exposed to the strains of adult life.


8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?


Stu: Someone messaged me on Twitter a while back telling me they read my work when they were sad
and it helped. So that is definitely rewarding. But I am human, so I also love when people retweet
my work or buy my books. My wife is an amazing writer so when they like something I have
wrote I know I am on the right track.
In terms of frustration, I don’t tend to get frustrated with my work too much. It comes or it
doesn’t. But again, I am human, so when I spend time writing something and I feel people have
not engaged with it to the degree that I feel it deserves, that is a negative. I don’t submit my work
much (2 or 3 times a year) so rejections aren’t something I have to deal with much. Not because I
am a good writer but because if you don’t submit you don’t get rejected.


9) How has the current times affected your work?

Stu: I feel like I was really well equipped for the pandemic. I don’t honestly miss anything except
maybe eating out. So my life hasn’t changed a great deal. I feel like I have been more productive
than some people during the lock-downs. I have written well over 100k words split between
projects. So I would say, weirdly, that I am thriving personally. I have also started a lit project,
Bear Creek Gazette, which is a fake newspaper set in a fake town. Its been brilliant to see the
responses and submissions for it. People have really got behind it. Its weird and sometimes
offensive. Which is what people crave when times are hard. Well, its what I crave anyway.

10) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.


Stu: My book is out later this year, in one of the J months, on Broken Spine Arts.
You can follow me on Twitter, where I basically live, @stuartmbuck
Bear Creek Gazette has a website. Its welcometobearcreek.com and the Twitter is @bcgazette

Poetry & Interview with Matthew M C Smith & Black Bough Poetry

Beacons

Figures bright on the ice-white moor
slope-bound to the wilderness
ink of voices
dyeing the snow
A clatter of sledges
riot of children and barking
small fingers point
to the winding wing
conducting in its shadow
It vanishes
over the mountain peak
its cry as cold
as frost-stone


Frost

Concrete is crystalline
cold light of halogen
steel through night
procession of chrome
Smooth arc of moon
at the end of breath
planets bright, pure light
between rise of star-sun
and down of dusk
with all motion
encircling Polaris

Field X

Trees stand sentinel
boughs glisten black
banks of leaves
tumble to field’s edge
a ditch brook murmurs
orange blood of iron trickle
Scare of crow, sky
speck of hawk, high
brook, river
mast, transmitter
red pulse
on signal spire
Fields tilled, stilled
a picking bird
tapping a barren bower
tear-salt winds
bleach a long skull
and whistle wire

  1. Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, What is the theme/mood?

Matthew: I published my first book ‘Origin: 21 Poems’ in 2018. This is available on Amazon and the poems focus on landscape, cultural memory, layers of time, my father (who died in 2012), family and fatherhood. I’m writing my next collection which will contain poems and poetic prose. I’m really excited about it. Most of the pieces have been published and well-received so seeing the poems in a whole, cohesive collection will be surreal and a jolt – that sense of achievement about something that has been hard to do and involved a lot of tricky decisions. There are some poems that have made people cry and I’ve been contacted by people moved or inspired. I also got a ‘Best of the net’ nomination from Icefloe Press for a group of poems and prose that will be in it so I’m intrigued as to what readers will think. I’ll also use an artist and have a secret or mystery contained within but it will be very hard to find and maybe that’s all I’ll say on it

2. What frame of mind & ideas lead to you writing your current book?

Matthew: The poems in my next collection will focus again on landscape and place, our connection and disconnection with nature, the earliest traces of humanity on the earth and nature as ‘other’ – its mightiness and inhumanity. I use personification in poetry like most poets but sometimes I feel like it is another claiming act made by humans and while we are advanced animals and part of nature, it is much greater than us. There’s been vast expanses of time before humans and there will be vast expanses after our extinction far into the future. I also write about family and fatherhood, loss and some strange imaginative journeys, including cosmic adventures. I don’t feel I write personal poetry but I read over and realise some poems are very personal

3. How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

Matthew: I was about 15 years old when I started to write and I wrote sporadically over 25 years amassing a lot of writing, some of it awful. I got serious at 40 as a bucket-list thing – publishing a book by the time I was 40 – and published it without any magazine publications and without knowing any poets. I did it the wrong way round but it was fun doing it with ignorant bliss and naivety and at least I had something to hawk around and promote. I’m now 42 and my work adapts as I read more and more but it still has a particular stamp, I think.

4. What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

Matthew: Before being a published poet, I loved T.S. Eliot, R.S. Thomas, Alun Lewis, Wallace Stevens, Robert Graves, Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings and Sylvia Plath, to name but a few. I also got into poetry via ‘The Doors’ and Jim Morrison. I guess Morrison got me writing even if what I was writing was rambling disconnected utterances. I won’t mention contemporary poets as there’s too many and I’ll leave so many out but the ‘Black Bough’-published poets are utterly inspirational and wide-ranging.

5. What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

Matthew: Running. I run three or four times a week and have done a lot of running challenges like 10ks, half marathons and the London marathon. Running inspires poems as I go into a more meditative, zoned-out state. I’m also a keen walker, astronomer and deep time site visitor (caves, standing stones, museums, etc) and casual researcher of prehistory. I collect vinyl and vintage Star Wars figures. All of these inspire poetry. Like a lot of people, I’m on social media too much. But I’m also a husband and dad and we do a lot as a family together.

6. Tell us a little about your process with writing. Is it more a controlled or a spontaneous/freewriting style?

Matthew: It starts with spontaneity and free-flow and slows down. I leave my poetry for weeks and come back to it with a lot more control and usually make changes, which involves re-ordering, cutting and looking for better words. And then I come back again, weeks or months later. But sometimes poems are quick and don’t get edited that much.

7. Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Matthew: The people closest to me inspire me to write about them. This is always positive. I don’t wash my dirty linen in public by writing negatively about anyone I know. I always write on holiday – the change of scene is creatively invigorating. I visited Cheddar Gorge and the Mendips this year before Covid and the ancient landscape was staggering and begs to be written even more about. I’ve written in Majorca, France and Italy, usually stunning land and cityscapes. I feel like this with the Gower peninsula near me, an area of outstanding beauty and heritage. Much has been written about this area but there is always more scope for investigation and creative interpretation.

8. What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

Matthew: The most rewarding part is when you’ve finished work and it’s really moved on from its earliest form. When others read it and give you enthusiasm and meaningful feedback, this is also satisfying. When you hold a room in the palm of your hand at a reading because you‘ve learned the poem and performed it well. The most frustrating part is having work that just feels unfinished over a long time and wondering if it’ll ever get to a ‘finished’ state. I don’t get beaten down by rejections – just truck on.

9. How has this past year impacted you emotionally, how has it impacted you creatively if it all?

Matthew: I think it will give most people, including myself, a long-term, deep anxiety about close contact with others, particularly groups. I watch TV, old films sometimes, and instinctively feel concern about people being too close. This kind of fear doesn’t bode well for the future, does it? Creatively, I’ve had time to work on some of my writing and I don’t doubt there are themes of being trapped and contained across my recent writing

10. Please give us any promotional info for your work, social media, blogs, publishing company info, etc that you’d like to shout out.

Matthew: Matthew’s writing can be read at https://www.blackboughpoetry.com/matthew-m-c-smith Access to past free Black Bough journals and links to buy print journals are at http://www.blackboughpoetry.com

Matthew M. C. Smith is a writer from Swansea, Wales. He is ‘Best of the Net’-nominated and his work is published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, The Lonely Press, Seventh Quarry, Fevers of the Mind and Bangor Literary Journal. He is the editor of Black Bough poetry. Twitter: @MatthewMCSmith @BlackBoughpoems Insta: @smithmattpoet Also on Facebook. Matthew M. C. Smith (writer)

About Black Bough Poetry:

  1. When did you come up with the idea of Black Bough Poetry?

   Mathew: In March 2019, I’d been working on publishing my poetry for about a year and decided that I needed to learn more about contemporary styles of poetry. One way to do this would be to start a small press. I wanted to give emerging writers a platform, particularly Welsh writers and those lacking support and confidence, and when I announced a micropoetry press, there was a big reception. I also started it because I’d read so many posts on social media about rejections and thought Black Bough poetry would be another opportunity for poets. It’s also helped with making connections and getting readers for my own work. I often publish my own work in Black Bough but pretty sparingly and always ask the team to look over it and be honest.

2.Were you surprised by the amazing poets that you’ve assembled & contributed to making Black Bough quite the success in such a short amount of time?

Matthew: Definitely, I’m really surprised at how many submittters there are and the quality of writing from emerging to experienced writers. The feedback is humbling and motivates me to try new things and push the scope of the magazine. If there hadn’t been such positive vibes, I wouldn’t have done so many editions and ventured into print editions. Social media gives huge opportunities for writers and magazines and the following of Black Bough poetry across the world grows every week

3. Black Bough’s anthologies are thematic in nature, How, do you come to a conclusion of coming up with the themes?

Matthew: Some editions are open-themed but you’re right – there is often a thematic approach. I try to have some connective tissue running through the open-themed ones. I get very inspired by the thematic approach and spend a lot of time thinking of interesting themes that will inspire readers and writers. The ‘Deep Time’ editions (volume 1 and 2), which went to no. 1 and 2 in the Amazon poetry anthologies chart in the UK, were inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s award- winning ‘Underland’ (2019). The focus on deep time and the environment in Macfarlane’s epic non-fiction work really inspired writers and we have such good poetry and artwork in the two volumes. It was amazing to get Robert Macfarlane’s initial and ongoing support for the project as he’s incredibly busy. In 2021, the ‘Freedom/ Rapture’ edition will come out inspired by a mashup song by Jim Morrison and Debbie Harry (‘Rapture Riders’). The themes have to be interesting to me as well as interesting to writers.

4. What is coming up with Black Bough (in the near future)? Any hints on upcoming themes for 2021?

Matthew: Freedom/ Rapture’ will probably be two editions – online and in print. That’s a big project in itself and will probably take six months at least. Then we have ‘Christmas and Winter’ volume 2, following this year’s print volume that’s out on Amazon. I’m excited by these but they are very, very time-consuming to do. I always assemble great teams to help me. There’s also the sister-project, Silver Branch, which is made up of online monthly features of writers’ work. This was inspired by Icefloe Press and their ‘Geographies’ project. After these, I’ll be focusing on my second collection and having a break from Black Bough.

5. The artwork for these books is just as important as the poetry. Who comes up with the illustrations for the books? Is it a group effort, or one particular vision?

Matthew: I hesitate to use the word ‘intuition’ but I look around on the web for talented artists and hone in on artists who I think will match the work and will be easy to get along with. All the artists and photographers have been brilliant so far. I knew Emma Bissonnet (Christmas and winter edition) would be incredible for the Christmas and winter edition as I’d already seen and bought her commercial art for several years. I wasn’t sure how it would go with Rebecca Wainwright but after seeing her first sketch, I felt the potential for an incredible synergy between the poetry and art. Her ‘Deep Time’ art is very special to me and many people who have bought the books. Lizzie Kemball was a revelation for the Apollo 11 edition. That was very exciting as she was a mystery artist, revealed towards the end. Our very own Banksy. I’ve been very lucky so far and the other artists and photographers have been brilliant



Sunday Interview with Poet Samantha Terrell

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the
most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the
concept of your project, blog, website


Samantha: Thanks for the opportunity to share! My website is samanthaterrell.com and my forthcoming
book is entitled “Vision, and Other Things We Hide From” which is a collection of poetry that
asks the reader to delve beneath the surface of everyday life, to discover what lessons lurk there.


2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?


Samantha: The entire purpose of my work is to enable the reader to tap into their own emotions and drives
to shed light on the way they view the world. My hope is that by encouraging self-awareness, we
can all strive to be better “neighbors” to each other. Two areas specifically, frame almost all of
my serious work to that end – those two areas are emotional integrity and social awareness.


3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

Samantha: My work is definitely always adapting but I believe I stay true to the voice which has always
been with me. Before I knew how to read and write, I “wrote” long scribbles on any paper I
could find. At about age three, I remember getting in trouble for “writing” one of my stories on
piano sheet music. In school I always enjoyed creative writing and won several essay contests.
However it was at the end of my college career when I began to pursue poetry writing in earnest.


4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?


Samantha: I have always enjoyed folk artists because I was raised on heavy doses of James Taylor, Pete
Seeger and Woody Guthrie. I appreciate the poetic nature of their work as well as underlying
social messages. Bands like U2, R.E.M. and Natalie Merchant became my favorites as a teenager for the same reasons.
I love all forms of poetry – traditional and contemporary, from Longfellow to Billy Collins; from
Emily Dickinson to Louise Glück.


5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of
being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into
your mind and often become parts of a poem?

Samantha: I read whatever I can get my hands on, and have a passion for social issues which often
influences my work. (My degree is in Sociology, rather than English Literature and I worked in
Disability Services for several years after college.)
My husband and I have always enjoyed spending time in nature. We enjoy taking our sons
camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, etc. It has been a blessing during Covid lockdown that we
haven’t had to sacrifice our family recreational activities. Nature is definitely also a great
inspiration for writing!


6) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?


Samantha: Hmmm…It’s difficult to answer this one! One drawback of not having an English degree is not
knowing literary terminology. I have tried to self-educate, and obviously I know the difference
between haiku and free-verse, but there are times I feel I lack the vernacular to describe my own
work. Perhaps this keeps me from putting my style in a box, and allows me the freedom to write
as I wish! Generally speaking, I’d say I write approximately half and half rhymed and unrhymed
poetry, and I often use a first-person voice although I try not to overdo that as I understand it to
be bad form.
Personally, I dislike poetry that strings words together so loosely it seems like word salad. I want
my words to resonate with my readers, not leave them confused. Therefore, my style is a bit more
direct than some publishers and poetry critics prefer, but I don’t believe it’s so direct a reader
feels bullied.
No writer will appeal to all publishers and I’m not a person who tries to be
someone I’m not. As writers we have to take rejections along with successes.


7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?


Samantha: I think I might have covered that one in some of the other questions. My family is an inspiration
and support to me. I sometimes write about my boys – hopefully not so much as to embarrass
them.

8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?


Samantha: Rewarding – finding appropriate publishers. Frustrating – trying to find appropriate publishers.
See question #6!


9) How has the current times affected your work?  


Samantha: I’ve probably used the extra time to focus more on my writing and re-prioritize. Covid is
definitely a hindrance to everyday life, and the suffering of the world has influenced many of my
recent poems.

10) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.
Samantha: Thanks again, Fevers of the Mind! My website is samanthaterrell.com and I’m on Twitter
@honestypoetry. My book “Vision, and Other Things We Hide From” is due out from Potter’s Grove Press on March 9 th

Samantha is a widely published American poet whose work emphasizes issues of social justice and emotional integrity. Her collection “Vision, and Other Things We Hide From” is forthcoming from Potter’s Grove Press. Samantha and her family reside in Upstate New York, where they enjoy kayaking on still waters.

Fevers of the Mind General Interview with Phil Vernon

) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept of your project, blog, website

Phil: My recent poetry collection is called Poetry After Auschwitz
.What I hope is interesting is that it addresses ‘difficult’ issues – violence, genocide, colonialism – but does so using largely formal poetic forms: for example sonnets, complex rhyming schemes. As such it explores Adorno’s famous challenge to artists that poetry – high culture – was no longer possible after the Nazi genocide, and that poets shared the guilt of society.

2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?

Phil: The book is more a collection of poems, than a single project as such. But at its heart it contains a number of poems, including the title poem, that examine my own and others’ responses to actual and structural violence. That probably reflects the fact I’ve worked in international humanitarian, development and peacebuilding for many years, where people are living in sometimes very bad situations, often inflicted by others. So in that sense it emerges from a somewhat pessimistic mindset, reflective of our capacity as humans to inflict harm and pain on others, repeatedly.

But my international work also exposes me to stories of resilience, recovery and progress. So it is not all doom and gloom. The book also contains poems about love, family, friends, gardens and the natural world – and poems celebrating people who have stood out in history as having made a positive contribution: for example Abraham Lincoln, Francisco Goya, Barbara Hepworth, the current Dalai Lama, and the Japanese Zen hermit Ryōkan Taigu.

I think that balance of looking on both the brighter and darker sides of life probably reflects my mood during the years 2013 to 2018 when most of the poems were written.

3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

Phil: I wrote poetry when I was younger, but never very seriously, and stopped when I was in my early thirties. I picked it up again in 2012 (in my mid-fifties), partly as a way to use the time I was then spending on a long daily commute, and on international travel. I wrote my first poem – an absolutely awful sonnet – on a long flight from Tajikistan to London. Previously, I had written entirely in free verse, but in this new incarnation opted for formal poetry forms. I am not sure why. But I have enjoyed the challenge of fitting my somewhat shapeless insights into formal poetic structures: the unexpected sparks that often occur when content and structure collide, as well as the feeling of pleasure when they seem to fit together nicely, like a hand in a glove.

A lot of the poetry I’m writing now uses less formal forms, and I’m enjoying the liberty that allows me to savour and play with the music of the words more freely.

4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

Phil: This is one of those questions to which the answer changes all the time. I’ve always enjoyed Larkin, and can still remember where I was when I read his late poem Aubade for the first time. Don Paterson is another poet whose work I really admire. Both of them have used the tension between poetic form and content, skilfully and exquisitely. Heaney and Tennyson for their perfect grasp of the weight and sound of words. RS Thomas for his bravery and the way he brings us face to face with God. Sharon Olds for the way she opens herself and her behaviour up for self-examination. Simon Armitage for his consistency and the way he stands back and considers… John McCullough’s recent Reckless Paper Birds is a great collection: it all fits together seamlessly and is both personal and political at once; and that’s also true of Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart. The new collection I read most recently was Sasha Dugdale’s Deformations, which seems to be very empathetic – trying on other peoples’ shoes – not necessarily nice people – and feeling how they fit; and then reverting back to trying on one’s own shoes, after having worn someone else’s. I also love the language of Shakespeare, the King James Bible and the metaphysical poets. I’d better stop there.

5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

Phil: I run cross-country, in the countryside of West Kent/ East Sussex where I live. This is a landscape I’ve known for decades – albeit one that I lived far away from for much of that time – and I absolutely love it. I think it loves me back. When I was younger I worked on the land as a chainsaw operator, and did farm work for a bit. The landscape holds a real sense of history for me – and many of my poems have emerged from imagining people in it.

I am married with two grown up children, and come from a large family myself. I’m quite an ‘alone’ person, but family looms large in my life too, and colours my poems. Some of the poems in the book are either formally or indirectly written to my son and daughter. And the book as a whole is dedicated to my parents, who live nearby.

6) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

Phil: There is nothing better than feeling that you have got a sonnet just right!

7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Phil: Recently, I’ve been writing a series of poems about imagined individuals going about their lives in a semi-imaginary small town rather the like the one where I live. The people in the poems are entirely fictional, as far as I know, but their setting is a version of my local setting.

But otherwise, my poems reflect places I’ve visited, lived in – or simply imagined. Poetry After Auschwitz contains poems set in Central Europe, Abkhazia, the Philippines, Ukraine, Syria, France, Australia, Russia, Italy, Japan, Tibet and the USA, as well as East, Central and Southern Africa. Also, the Holy Land!

8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

Phil: The most rewarding part is when a poem seems to have reached that point where it has ‘worked’. There may still be a great deal of editing to be done, but there is already a collection of words that embodies emotion and ideas in a suitable style and form, and is showing signs that it may be ‘effective’ in communicating these.

The most frustrating is when that doesn’t work, and I can’t find a way to make it work, despite feeling strongly that there is an ‘it’ that ought to be made to work.

9) How has the current times affected your work?

Phil: COVID has both enabled and impeded it. Enabled, as life has changed, creating new emotional situations that have inspired poems. Impeded, as being cut off from other people while watching what is happening feels a little voyeuristic and therefore inappropriate for poetry.

10) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.

Phil: My website is Poetry | Phil Vernon’s blog
, and I’m also on twitter as @philvernon2

My publisher’s page for the book: https://spmpublications.com/shop/poetry-after-auschwitz-phil-vernon.html

There are some readings of poems from the collection online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wC7o_Tnu_U
https://sentinelquarterly.com/2020/11/el-tres-de-mayo-a-poem-by-phil-vernon/
https://open.spotify.com/episode/7gxD2uoJaQjqGfEWaYOnQT

Thank you for having me!

Phil

the Fevers of the Mind General Interview with Ken Tomaro

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept of your project, blogplatform.

Ken: I actually have 2 books ready to be published but I’m trying to figure out the marketing aspect. I have 3 books on Amazon but my marketing skills are lacking so they are just out in Amazon limbo.. Right now I’m collaborating with an illustrator to do a mini magazine that has illustrations to my poetry. Kind of in the vain of Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor series. I don’t do blogs or websites, which I suppose I should, but then that cuts into the creative process always having to be on some social media plarform.

2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?

Ken: Everything I write comes from living with depression.

3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

I honestly never even gave thought to writing of any kind. I started writing poetry about 5 years ago, so about 45 years old. Yes, I would say after 5 books my writing has only gotten better.

4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

Ken: Hands down, Charles Bukowski. I absolutely love that he can tell a story in such a simplistic manner. “I smoked a cigarette.” Enough said.

5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

Ken: Before I wrote poetry I was/still am an artist. I worked a lot with acrylics and abstract paintings. I also bake Italian cookies. All three of those things play well together and eventually end up as poetry for me.

6) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

Ken: Poetry by far. Because of the depression my brain works in short bursts as far as the writing goes.  Sometimes I don’t feel you need an entire chapter or novel to tell a story. I’ve found often it can be done in a paragraph or less

7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Ken: Everything influences my writing…from a childhood memory to standing on the street smoking a cigarette and just watching everything around me.

8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

Ken: Outside of the fact that I have been in several magazines and people seem to like my writing I found it was a good therapy to clear my head. I can lose myself in the writing and forget about the hundred daily shitstorms happening in the world. The frustrating part I guess is marketing myself or getting my work seen. I’m pretty quiet and reserved and don’t really know how to say, “Hey world, read my work…it’s good stuff!”

9) How has the current times affected your work?  

Ken: I don’t really write about the pandemic. It’s hard to explain the timeframe most of my work takes place. Even though much of it takes place in current times, it also doesn’t if that makes sense.

10) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.

Facebook: Ken Tomaro Twitter: @anxietyMilkshake

That’s about it…I’m kind of old fashioned.

Thanks

Ken Tomaro is an artist and writer living in Cleveland, Ohio whose work has been published in several literary journals. He has also published three collections of poetry available on Amazon. His writing reflects an open, honest view of everyday mundane life living with depression.