Poetry for his father: Footprints by Matthew M C Smith from Fevers of the Mind Issue 2

Michael CAF Smith (1948-2012)

Footprints (for my father)

Our footprints, the tracks of our play,
going all ways, ran deep along the shore.
All our lives we laughed along the stretch,
we laughed at simple games, splashing
through pools of silver, across sands of 
burnished gold. We laughed against the sky
and you listened to young voices,
spellbound, time out of mind.
That day, the wind whipped the waves,
the swell surged, we were beaten
by torrents, caught in the rising storm,
the crash, deafening.
We floundered, soaked to the bone.
The light was cold, so very cold
and we shouted as we saw you,
separate, tides encircling,
gazing out in silence.
We saw your still, bowed head,
as if in prayer. The rip took your feet,
and you were taken, consumed,
the falling man.
We took your arms, hands,
searched in eyes of ages blue,
taking that curve of jaw, seeing your soul
as a burning ship and still your head was bowed.
As the tide slipped, you were so white, so white,
kissed by time's silent lips.
No cry, nor whisper, a cross shape near
crested roar and the people you love
carry you from the shore

For more on Matthew check the link below

Honorary Wolfpack Contributor: Matthew M C Smith


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Devon Marsh

with Devon Marsh:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Devon: I have 4 early poems that my mother wrote down on a piece of stationery from my father’s hardware store when I was 4 years old. I remember her taking dictation as she tucked me into bed. After that, I stopped writing poems for about 25 years. I began again around age 30, and got more serious in my 40s. My biggest influences were Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Ted Kooser.

The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Devon: Berry, Oliver, and Kooser are poets I return to. I’ve enjoyed and learned from many others, but piecemeal rather than from focused attention to any one of them. Mary Jo Salter, W.S. Merwin, Jane Hirshfield, Richard Wilbur, Joy Harjo. I have not read widely enough nor deeply enough in poetry to make myself the best I could be. I keep writing and reading anyway.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Devon: I can’t point to a single moment that made me want to write, just the dawning awareness in early life that my father read widely and admired good writing, therefore it must be worth pursuing.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Devon: Patrick Donnelly, Director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, has given me the most helpful instruction. Matthew M.C. Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Black Bough Poetry, has helped me the most with exposure and promotion of my work. Both are generous in their efforts with poets.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from there influence your work?

Devon: I grew up in Georgia, in the southeastern U.S. Early in my life, my family lived on a farm adjacent to a Civil War battlefield. Later we lived in a small city near the Appalachian Mountains. The history of the region, its landmarks, its Native American place names, and especially the stories of much older relatives all made a big impression on me. These influences are not obvious in everything I write, but I hope a respect for kind people and place and the natural world shows through in almost everything.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Devon: The most meaningful poems I’ve written so far have been the three that were published in Deep Time: Volume 1, by Black Bough Poetry. The poems are not connected, however they fit together thematically to demonstrate the respect I have for my ancestors, the love I have for my family, and our brief time in a world we are rapidly changing. I was very happy to see these poems in print, all together, and in such fine company with others in the Deep Time collection.

Amazon.com: Black Bough Poetry: Deep Time: Volume 1 (9798645663940): Bough  Poetry, Black, Bedell, Jack, Wainwright, Laura, Smith, Matthew M. C.,  Wainwright, Rebecca, Spice, Ankh: Books


Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Devon: Hiking to a remote spot with a view or with flowing water, then sitting a long while and enjoying my surroundings, provides the best relaxation for me. Sitting beside a fire—even a candle flame—and listening to night sounds comes in a very close second.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?


“God only knows, God makes his plan / the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.”
Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?


I’d like to promote my full-length collection that has not yet found a home. Maybe some press will read this and adopt it like a rescue dog.

I’m on Twitter at @DevonMarsh1

My website is https://devonmarsh.com

My books include a novella, How I Know, and a memoir, Never a Hero, that I edited for my father.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Z.R. Ghani

with Z.R. Ghani

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Z.R.: I started writing at the age of 16 when I read Jane Eyre and fell in love with it. I started off by writing surrealistic short stories and planning epic novels which never saw the light of day. Poetry always fascinated me and I was drawn to Shakespeare’s sonnets and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, but I didn’t start writing poems until my English teacher at college read a sonnet I wrote for my homework. He was impressed and encouraged me to keep writing, so I did!

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Z.R.: So many poets come to mind. However, I’ve always loved Carol Ann Duffy, Pascale Petit, and Ezra Pound. When I read their work I just want to grab a pen and paper and start scribbling away. Influences are great but I do believe in getting to know yourself, finding your voice so you’re not copying someone else but being true to who you are.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Z.R.: I grew up in Mauritius and moved to England when I was 8 years old. I tend not to write about Mauritius as much as I’d like to. Not sure why that is, it’s not a subject matter I automatically turn to. London, however, inspires me to no end. I love the diversity of the city, and the contrast between quiet parks and concrete jungles. At the same time I still feel like a stranger in London. It’s probably why I explore themes of self and identity in my work. I also like to write about where I am in my life right now, how I feel about myself at this point in time. Poetry is about confessing your truth – at least for me it is! I’m also inspired by Greek mythology, art, and fairytales. 

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?

Z.R.: I’ve put together a poetry pamphlet recently titled ‘In the Name of Red’ and looking to get it published. It was put together during the first lockdown and that was the first time I dedicated myself to a body of work when I felt as though I was being completely honest about my past and the events that have shaped me.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Z.R.: When I was studying at university, I chose the poetry module in my second and third year as a last resort. I thought, “how hard can it be?” and didn’t fully understand the work that goes into writing poems. The first few poems I wrote were badly received and I wanted to give up. After a long period of doubt I decided to read more poetry and be less forgiving with the editing. This not only improved my work but I realised that poetry was a crucial part of my life and I could never abandon it. 

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Z.R.: I like sewing, drawing, cooking, and going on long walks.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Z.R.: n/a here are links to some poems

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : “Heart Shaped Wreath”

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : House on a Tightrope


Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Z.R.: These lines are from an unpublished poem I wrote about Elizabeth I:
“Her beauty retreats as she looms near,/ becomes so rare it never existed –”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Z.R.: All my university tutors were amazing in helping me to develop my voice, I wouldn’t be writing now if it wasn’t for them. I am eternally grateful to Matthew MC Smith, an accomplished poet and the Editor of Black Bough Poetry, who believed in my work even before I had a Twitter account and was just a wannabe Instagram poet. I’ve still got a long way to go but I believe in myself because of him and owe him a lot for motivating me. 

Bio: Z. R. Ghani is a ‘Best of the Net’-nominated poet from North London, UK. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Zaina’s poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Black Bough Poetry, The Willowherb Review, Square Wheel Press, Bind Collective, Hazel Press, and The Adriatic. —
Z.R. GhaniAuthor and poetBA Creative Writing (Hons), BA Creative Arts (Hons)Instagram: @z.r.ghani

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with M.S. Evans

with M.S. Evans

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

M.S.: I started writing when I was very young, but didn’t share any of it. In 2019 I gave myself permission to finally go for it.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

M.S.: I’m currently diving into work by Bukowski, Louise Gluck and Franz Wright. Tom Waits is a musical constant

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?

M.S.: I grew up in in Seattle, in an old farmhouse. It’d been a speakeasy during the Prohibition era and strange things happened to everyone that stayed there.
Nature in the Pacific NW influenced me deeply. I became involved in environmental activism at a young age, which led me to the labor movement.
Nature, ghosts, and activism are definitely recurring topics in my writing.

Apparently Gary Snyder grew up in the same neighborhood. I like to think there’s a rebellious nature spirit there that drops in on kids’ dreams.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?

M.S.: In 2010 I traveled to Wales to meet my penpal. I married him, poor bloke. His belief in me has been invaluable.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?

M.S.: I’ve always had a drive to capture what I witness. Before I owned a camera or started really writing, this desire to capture a moment was like a physical pain.
I knew I had a unique perspective, but I’ve not always been sure how to share it, or if anyone would appreciate it. I’m still not sure, but that doesn’t seem to matter now.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

M.S.: Making art: linocuts, dolls, jewelry, painting. Walking, taking photographs. daydreaming. Sometimes all at once.

(Some pins I made getting a little extra UV curing: Mary MacLane, James Joyce, Linton Kwesi Johnson.)

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

M.S.: I’m currently working on my first poetry collection, and also cooking up a project with Ice Floe Press where I’ll be a guest reader.

My first exhibit, “Permanent Migrant” is now wrapping up here in Butte.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from one of your poem/writings or others?


“Roll rough Yiddish,
like bone dice
against a home’s foundation.”

-from “Red Shadows”, Ice Floe Press, 2020.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

M.S.: I’m indebted to Matthew M C Smith of Black Bough Poetry for his mentorship. Through Matthew I also met Robert Frede Kenter, a gentle, intuitive editor. They’ve both shown me so much kindness. I hope to pay it forward someday


Bio: M.S. Evans is a visual artist and Pushcart nominated poet living in Butte, Montana. Her work has appeared in Black Bough Poetry, Ice Floe Press, Versification, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Green Ink Poetry, among others.

Twitter: @SeaNettleInk Instagram: @seanettleart

Photography Art by M.S. Evans

3 poems from M.S. Evans from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthology

Twitter: @SeaNettleink







A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Merril D. Smith

with Merril D. Smith

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Merril: I began writing stories when I was a child. I remember giving my dad a handmade book (a school art project) with a story I had written about little creatures called Troubles. After that I did a little bit of very bad writing in high school, and then I started writing non-fiction as an adult, beginning with my doctoral dissertation in American history, which became my first book, Breaking the Bonds. I didn’t really turn to poetry until my children were grown and out of the house. I began a WordPress blog, which gradually became a mostly poetry blog. I think I was seeking a creative outlet without realizing it right away, and then, suddenly, I felt almost overtaken by the poetry muse. https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/

My parents were both great readers, and our house was always filled with books of all sorts. My family loved books and words. My mom started taking me and my younger sister to the library when we were very young. I think even though it wasn’t a direct poetry influence, this love of words has influenced me throughout my life.

Jane Dougherty’s challenges on her WordPress blog really helped me to begin writing poetry. I particularly loved her Yeats challenges.


Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Merril: I’m not sure that I have a biggest influence. I think I’m affected and influenced every time I read a poem I like. Recently, I’ve enjoyed the work of US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and I’ve discovered a lot of wonderful poets through Maria Popova’s Brainpickings site (https://www.brainpickings.org/). But I also love so much of the poetry I read on Twitter on #TopTweetThursday (the initiative of Matthew M C Smith, EIC of Black Bough Poetry), on Fevers of the Mind, and the work of poets I’ve met on WordPress and dVerse. There are so many: Jane Dougherty, Damien Donnelly, Kerfe Roig, Peach Delphine, Rachel Deering, Sarah Connor. . .

photo from joyharjo.com

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Merril: I was born in Philadelphia, then my family moved to Dallas, then back to the Philadelphia suburbs when I was in 7th grade and my parents divorced. I can’t say I think of Dallas as being an influence, but certainly my childhood and family life during the time I lived there were—and also, my parents had a large wholesale antique business then, and I thought their first antique store was so fascinating, a sort of magical place.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?


When we lived in Dallas, we often went back to Philadelphia for holidays and vacations, and now I live in southern New Jersey just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. As an adult studying history and walking around the city has been an inspiration, as have the natural world within and around the city. There is a lot of nature in and around Philadelphia—parks, two rivers, woods, streams, and we’re not far from the sea.
I traveled as a child with my parents, but I haven’t traveled too much as an adult. Then again, anywhere I do go might be inspiration for a poem—a visit to a museum, a trip to New England, etc.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Merril: No, I think it happened gradually.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Merril: I love to get lost in good novel. I was giddy going into my local library recently for the first time in over a year. I also enjoy walking, cooking/baking—and now it’s a joy to see family and friends again. Pre-Covid, my husband and I liked to walk around Philadelphia before going to see a movie or play, and then discussing it afterwards over coffee or wine. 

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Merril: I have a poetry collection coming out, but it’s not official yet.

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem of yours.


One of my favorite lines from one of my poem’s comes from “Origami Winter,” published in Black Bough Poetry’s Christmas/Winter edition, 2020

“My sister remembers we did origami
our memories now unfold these shapes
of winters’ past”


Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

My grad school professors helped me with some of the mechanics of writing, and I’m also a test writer, which means I’ve learned to choose words carefully. As far as direct poetry help, everyone who has given me feedback has helped me hone my skills, but the creative process is on-going.

Something that I’ve only learned recently is that there’s a creative streak that runs through my ancestry—though I don’t know how far back. I don’t know about poets, but there were artists, musicians, and probably writers. I feel a connection.

3 poems from Merril D. Smith in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020