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.

Bio: Samantha Terrell, author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press, 2021) is a widely published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in many fine publications, and her work has been featured on Sunny G Radio Glasgow, Dublin-based Eat the Storms podcast, and “The Open Collaboration” all-acoustics show (Bristol, U.K.).  She writes from her home in upstate New York, where she lives with her husband and their two sons.

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

Poetry by Ken Tomaro : Good to Know from FOTM Press Presents the Poets of 2020

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.

the Fevers of the Mind General Interview with Abuh Monday Eneojo

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

Abuh Monday: My latest book is Piary . It was published in 2019 in Ibadan, a city in Nigeria known for it’s aged lifestyle
and beautiful rooftops. Intrigue? Hmmmm…it is a poetic diary. Who doesn’t want to take a peek at ones
diary?

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

Abuh Monday: Basically, Piary , is an anthology of poems that houses the mind blowing experience of poet who tries not
sell his humanity to feminism, sexism, culture, lewdness and a whole lot of things you may want to tag
as frivolous in the society. As a way of spicing up the art of reading and understanding poetry, I gave
explanatory notes for some poems in the anthology.

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

Abuh Monday: I really do not know. Sometimes I feel it was the need to hold on to a strong resolve which keeps me
from frivolity but most times, it all comes down to the one who created me. I feel him greatly inspiring. 12 years old, i guess. Yes! It is adapting.me to write, then, I write.

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

Abuh Monday: William Shakespeare, Bob Marley, Asa, Buju Banton, Stormzy, Chinua Achebe, Festus Iyayi, Frederick
Forsyth etc The list is quite long but these are the people who inspire me when I write.

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?

Abuh Monday: Emmm… Podcasting, Singing, and Video/Sound editing. Yes.

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

Abuh Monday: For that I have no preference. Style to me is based on how I feel. I may end up using a free verse today
and end up with a sonnet or series of couplets with rhyme scheme.

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

Abuh Monday: Yes. For each place( city, town or village) that I visit in Nigeria I write. The place that influenced my
writing mostly is Daily Wisdom Words. An online writing community I joined some years ago.

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

Abuh Monday: The most rewarding part of writing is getting thoughts out on paper and the frustrating part of it all is
inability to get it out. It is damn frustrating.

9) How has the current times affected your work?  

Abuh Monday: Not so badly, if I must be sincere. It may have limited or changed the focus of humans but all we can do
is try.

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

Abuh Monday: Yes. You can read my articles on Daily Wisdom Words and listen to my podcast on poetry on
soundcloud . I am working on my first novel. Three more chapters to go and it’ll be sent for proof reading.
Find Abuh Monday on Instagram & Twitter at MondayDPoet

the FOTM Poetry General Interview with Simon Zec

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


Simon: In The Downtime is my second poetry collection, released two years after Death of the Suburb, in September 2020. It is a selection of poems written during that period. Whereas my first collection was an amalgam of all previous writings, reflecting Brexit, austerity , political turmoil, becoming a parent, living and loving but also the death of my mother, this collection travels a less angry path. The decline of my slowly dementing and widowed father and the conflict and emotions that brings as I reflect at my own role as a father. The imminent upheaval of Brexit and then the start of a pandemic. It looks at the thoughts and musings of a middle aged, middle class, middle of the road poet.


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


Simon: I write for therapy. To help me process the world around me. To see the world and try and put into a short, resonating collection of words. I spit my poems after they have bubbled around my head for a few days. Maybe I have seen a thing of beauty, or a nice phrase has popped into my head. I see it, I write it, it is released into the wild.


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


Simon: I have always tried to be a writer, from failed novels, failed film scripts to less failed poetry. Now I am older I feel I have enough self realisation to recognise the merits or foolishness of my words. But ask me in five years, I’ll see how pretentious I am being now.

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


Simon: Henry Normal is a brilliant poet, his work can have you laughing out loud to in tears within two poems. Brian Bilston is a black belt in poetry, his clever use of form and structure combined with humour is so impressive. He has become a more political creature in lockdown and still maintaining his wit. Within my local poetry circle in Sussex i know and perform regularly with a real diverse bunch of great poets, from Liam the Goth Poet, Meg, Kate, Maz and Liz and Chris. We meet monthly (on zoom nowadays) and to be in their presence inspires to write something new and keeps me on my toes


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?


Simon: Before lockdown myself and 4 friends would meet each week to create music. They are a talented bunch of musicians and we keep trying to create new music. Hanging with them frees up my chance to write lyrics and stick to a structure, form, rhyme and rhythm which i do not possess in my poetry


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

Simon: I have no real defined or clear poetry style, it has been pointed out that there is always some form of repetition within my poems, but apart from that I very rarely rhyme. I do not work to structure or form.

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


Simon: The world around me is my inspiration. Be it my family, the political situation, the environmentI find if i am away from home, on holiday or just sitting quietly i can be my most creative. My friends own a remote cottage in somerset with no electricity. If i could live there i would happily sit and write for the rest of my life

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


Simon: I find writing highly therapeutic. If i am upset or need to process any issues, writing it out and putting it in a poem often will ease the situation tenfold. I hate the editing process. Having to check for spelling mistakes and punctuating something is very tedious!

9) How has the current times affected your work?  


Simon: Hugely during the first lockdown i was creating daily. As time wore on i preferred to write less but of a higher quality. In the dark times is where we find the inspiration and in the downtime between the bad bits are where we find solace. As the world struggles they turn to poets and creatives to help them understand what is happening. It is our responsibility to show the light and offer hope and beauty.

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


Simon: You can find me on Facebook as Simon Zec: Steyning’s Poet Laureate or just find me as Simon Zec i’m more active as myself! Twitter at: @SimonZec23 Insta: @SimonZecPoet
I don’t have a website but you can buy my books from http://www.therealpress.co.uk or amazon