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

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

5 poems & interview from Damien Donnelly in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Illusion Swims Over an Empty Pool

Feet swing above a blue tiled wall of a piscine / sans l’eau
as if the world has cried up all the water on the planet.

I rest my head on your shoulder and you lean in /to my support
as if we were both armbands to each other.

Somewhere behind a day I made into a memory / in my mind
you fake swim in that pool of dried tile / cracked sunshine

and our laughter reverberates between the stain at the bottom
and the gulls flying overhead / in circling sways

in case we chose to be bait for their beak.

Behind us / a taxi rides away / and we are left to decipher
how life drowned in that place / sans rêve.

Sometimes we sleep to dream / other times we slip our feet
into the emptiness / to dream of what we might have found

in its place.

Feet swing above a blue tiled wall of a piscine / sans l’eau
et on ferme les yeux / to lean into that which isn’t really there.

At Least in a Cup of Coffee We can Hold a Caramel of Comfort

In the kitchen / breaking noise before dawn
you grind grains into something more sippable,
stilled / under a shadow of something unsettling,

I shift position / too naturally / while still snoozing,
setting my sleeping skin into that soft spot
your body has since shed

as your tongue lets the caramel of coffee
tingle across taste buds / slowly changing

in that kitchen / swallowing simple warm things
in the morning / before day comes to choke us.

Knowing how Long to Leave Wool in the Water

Spring has left us shy.

We flirted like sheep / cute / clumsy
constantly caught before coming / folding a season into forever.

Words come / cumbersome
you can only swallow so much of a wave of seductive / before you drown.

Sheep don’t swim / wool doesn’t do well in hot water.
Be careful with the laundry.

Spring has left us shy.

We never unfolded another season / no more flock to the flirt,
you do / or you die / the tide isn’t ours to play with.

Sink / swim / shrink /drown / and I was never good at lengths
length of time / length of hold / length of hope.

Sheep need a shepherd / or get washed away.

The Dissolving of Emptiness

I lay down this lake of loss / hope for soil to soak up sorrow,
by side sedge / wedge myself up / all this waste,
bury what turned base at the bottom / this bed
no longer silken sheets / but sludge / to be swept

under / asunder

I lay down this lake / this lough of loss / lost,
waiting for the tide to wash over /the emptiness to dissolve,
waiting for time to refine me / re-find me as buoyant

in place of broken.

An Interview with Damien Donnelly

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

Damien: There is certainly a flow of connecting colours throughout the collection; rickety reds, shades of blue, scarlet rising, grazing greens, purples clouds and cerulean skies. I like painting as a pastime so that often trickles out through the pen. I love wandering around galleries to see the tales painters captured on canvases and wondering how to capture them onto pages. Black is only shadow is a line that comes up more than once in the collection and I think that is where its identity lies, an acceptance of the darkness and a hope that it will not be forever, a line chanted like a mantra to get through to the next burst of light. The collection is not necessarily about easy moments in life but I hope the reader can appreciate the rise after each fall.

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

Damien: I had my first panic attack a few years ago and many of the poems in this book stem from that, looking for ways of remaining light and bright and bouncy while accepting, concurrently, that state of anxiety, fear and sometimes loss. I was searching for balance, we cannot always remove the darkness or the weight or the panic and so I wanted to find a way to hold both at the same time so there was not always a fight between the two but an acknowledgement of each other.

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

Damien: I wrote when I was a kid, a cathartic release before I knew there were people called therapists. But I had a dream of being a fashion designer from a young age and therefore the attention was always focused on a degree in fashion and a life in the industry which overshadowed the writing, even though it was always there. When I moved from London to Amsterdam in 2006, I began to focus more on writing and that was when I started my blog deuxiemepeaupoetry.com, a combination of poetry and photography. I think there was something about the ease of life in Amsterdam that made it possible to do more than one thing in a day, London, for me, was far too demanding for that. A few years later, my grandmother passed away and I was asked to write and deliver her eulogy and that was the first time I saw people really listening to what I had to say and relating to it and from that moment it changed, as if she instilled in me a confidence that this was something to be explored and needed time to develop. Looking back now at notebooks from childhood and even early poems on my blog, my style has changed completely. I started off by telling whole stories and have now fine tuned that into telling a story, not the whole, not always the complete truth, but exploring their essence.

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

Damien: When I was 23, I lived for a year in a one bedroomed, viewless-windowed apartment in Le Marais in Paris with an Irish girl who played piano and Irish drinking songs in bars around the city but late at night, or after Sunday strolls through the Jewish quarter and lugging home sugar-laden treats from the bakeries on rue des Rosiers, she would play me her favourite Joni Mitchell songs before we put the album Miles of Aisles on repeat on our little Cd player. Later it became the Tin Angel and Blue albums on my Walkman, sitting at the table after coming home from work at the bar at 3am, playing Solitaire and listening to her paint words over cords, about living in places and missing others, kissing men and moving on. The influence from Joni has never strayed.

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?

Damien: Photography is something I love. I can take over 100 photos a day, just trying to capture things that might get overlooked, a twig on a lump of concrete, a bag in a tree, a shell sinking back into the sand. I also use those photos a reference points later when writing, the visual falling into the structured lines of a poem. Painting is also something I enjoy though it takes much more time but it is the same thing as writing, taking a blank page or canvas and putting a mark down onto it and following the flow of that first mark. Cooking or baking are the things I do as much as writing because I find it so relaxing; hours, days spent in the kitchen is a dream for me, listening to music or a podcast and smelling the flavours come to life is incredible. And then there is the eating.

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

Damien: I write every day, whenever I can. When I lived in Paris it was on the way to work on the metro, during lunch breaks, at night on terraces of cafes, always in between the job or the duty or the relationship. Now I write constantly, all day. The earlier part of this year was very much taken up with a fictional novel I am now sending out to publishers. During the first lockdown in Ireland, which began in March, just before our famous cancelled Saint Patrick’s Day, I had two main focuses- the garden and its 45 trees that needed chopping with an old rusty hand saw and poetry prompts on Twitter from both the Cobh Readers and Writers group and Catherine Ann Cullen, an Irish Poet, who ran a daily poetry prompt, the pair of which resulted in me writing over 300 poems in about 4 months, after which I focused on the next collection which will be a full poetry collection about my life spent living with Paris, a combination of poetry and photography. So it really never stops. My phone is never far from my hand to scribble down lines that come into my head that will be worked on later, I am very forgetful so never like to lose a thought that might become a treasure.

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

Damien: Paris definitely, I moved there when I was 22 and it changed who I was, suddenly I was completely alone for the first time in my life, in a larger-than-life city, a formerly shy child who’d never studied a word of French. I grew up there and so it will always have a huge influence on my identity, my life and my writing. Now that I have returned to Ireland, this little island has become the influencer. In earlier days, I spent so much time trying to get away from this place and the shy child it still wanted to identify within me but now, coming back after 23 years, it is a foreign object and I am enjoying examining all her sides while she accepts me now for who I became and has given up looking for the shadows of my former self. Family come in and out, of course, in terms of influence, I recently had a short story in the No.1 Irish bestseller A Page from My Life, an anthology of short stories published by Harper Collins Ireland and my story was about my Mother’s first experience in shopping at the supermarket chain Aldi. It was a comedy piece which made it a welcome change from the more serious tone of most of my poetry. And then there is always the constant rise and fall of relationships which ignites the pen. I write a lot about love and all that lies in between beginnings and endings. Torture can be exquisite, on the page, at least

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

Damien: For me it’s that sense of achievement, when you find the right words, the right order, the right atmosphere and you read it back and it pops and you just want to jump up and say yes- I did it. The most frustrating? Having to do it all over again.

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

Damien:  I have never written so much as I have this year. As I mentioned I wrote over 300 poems during the first lockdown thanks to Poetry Prompts on Twitter while also editing my novel. I moved back to Ireland with a dream of setting up a writer’s retreat on the west coast but, at first, I said I’d stay at the family home for a few months to make up for being away for so long. Then Covid hit and it is now one year later and I’m still in that family home on the east side of Ireland. I think I’ve left this village about 6 times in the past 9 months. It has been an extremely strange year from being basically housebound, which is not normally in my comfort zone, to also being a non-stop year of writing, being published, winning writing competitions, starting a podcast and interviewing other poets as part of a series on my blog. I was given the rare opportunity this year to focus solely on writing and am thankful that I will not look back at this year as a wasted opportunity

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

Damien: My bog is http://www.deuxiemepeaupoetry,com where you can buy signed copies of my debut chapbook Eat the Storms in the bookshop there. My publisher is www.hedgehogpress.co.uk For details of the podcast check out www.eatthestorms.com I am on Twitter as @deuxiemepeau, Instagram as @damiboy and @eatthestorms and Tiktok as @eatthestorms

  1. When did you get the idea to start the “Eat the Storms Podcast”?

Damien: I first came up with the idea of the podcast as it came close to the launch of my collection and I realized that because of lockdown restrictions I would not be able to have a normal book launch in a library or a bookstore and there would be no interaction with people. The focus would have to all take place on social media platforms and I was already on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and had a pretty good following but I wanted to find more ways to get my voice out. I started by using TikTok to make short video poems and then someone suggested a podcast but I was worried about setting it all up on my own as I’m not the most technologically minded person even though I’ve used computers for 25 years in terms of creating patterns for clothes but then I discovered the app and podcast platform Anchor which let you produce your own podcast and it was so simple and easy that by the next evening I had the first episode already recorded with jingles and introductions and pauses. It started as a platform just to share poems from my debut collection Eat the Storms, but that changed immediately as I realised everyone was in the same boat, all looking for outlets to be heard and so I opened the show up to have guest poets each week and it had taken off from there and it is showing no signs of slowing down as the audience is picking up more listeners each week so I am very happy to say that I was able to offer connection in a time when we were being told to stay away.

2. What have you found most interesting in the poets that you have interviewed? Are you ever surprised by what the poets have to say when on the podcast?

Damien: For me, personally, I think the most interesting thing about the podcast and having guests on is hearing poems that I know I’ve already read myself, read to me by their author and hearing their original idea instead of my understanding because of the tone of their voice, or a giggle or a pause when perhaps I had missed that moment of stillness that was so vital to how the poem would be. When you hear a poet read their words I think that brings us to a whole other level of understanding

3. How do you scout out a poet to have on your own show?

Damien: Sometimes I have themed episodes which makes it easier to put the content of the show together, like the LGBTQ+ episode that recently went down a storm or the Irish episode I am currently planning. At other times it’s just a question of who’s in my line of sight, who’s the most popular name of the day on Twitter that I happened to hear of, who were the people that I dreamed of taking part and so I just drop them a little message and cross my fingers. Sometimes, with age comes bravery

4.Where can one find episodes of “Eat the Storms”?

Damien: At the moment Eat the Storms, the poetry podcast, is on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Pocketcasts and of course Anchor. A new episode drops every Saturday around 5pm but all the shows are there to listen to whenever life needs to be a little more poetic

5.Who helps you with the promotional vignettes for the show? I feel like I’m about to go into a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” style show, but with the souls of poets instead of Rich people’s homes.

Damien: The promotional vignettes for this show are all homemade, its me with my camera positioned somewhere halfway into the sand and resting against a shell while I walk across the beach or me with a tiny tripod because I don’t want to look too much like an idiot or in the garden, or a field or down a country lane or me and the back bedroom here in the family cottage that has been home to my family since 1904. I don’t have any extra help, I’m a fumbling, giggling one man show trying to figure it all out and occasionally calling on the 80-year-old mother to focus the camera.

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.