A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Karol Nielsen

with Karol Nielsen:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Karol: I started writing my first memoir—about my marriage to an Israeli man and the trauma of the Gulf War—in the 1990s. I kept a journal to process intense feelings and poems came out of that. My first influences were Shakespeare and Hemingway.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Karol: Billy Collins’ short, humorous poetry has had a big impact on me. I initially wrote long, anguished poems, but as my work evolved I began to write shorter, lighter poems.

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

Karol: I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs and I dreamed of big adventure. Then I traveled through Europe, South America, Australia, Israel, and Vietnam. I wrote memoirs about living through Scud missile attacks in Israel and traveling to Vietnam with my father, a Vietnam War veteran.

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

Karol: My first memoir, Black Elephants, was a challenge to write and publish, but once it was out it was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction.

from Karolnielsen.com

https://amzn.to/3hAVmaV

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

Karol: In the tenth grade, my English teacher had us keep a journal. We were reading Emerson and I wrote in my journal that I wanted to become a writer like him.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Karol: I used to do marathons and triathlons, including the Ironman race, but now I find inspiration in taking long walks.

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

Karol: I have a poetry chapbook coming out next year about random, often humorous encounters in New York City before the pandemic and my small life in quarantine.

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

Karol: I have a long poem about a teenager who was stabbed in a gang attack in the Bronx. I covered the story as a stringer for The New York Times, which didn’t publish the story because he survived. The last line of the poem goes: “And he lived.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Karol: I took a handful of creative writing courses with Adam Sexton at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in the 1990s. I learned the craft of writing from him and now I use that knowledge in my lectures as a creative nonfiction and memoir writing instructor with New York Writers Workshop.

finishinglinepress.com

https://amzn.to/3r4fyot

https://karolnielsen.com

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Shawn Berman

with Shawn Berman:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Shawn: I started writing around my freshman year of college. My first influences were my favorite comedians: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Demetri Martin, Larry David, Conan O’Brien, and Mitch Hedberg. I wanted to be a stand-up comedian so bad, and to an extent, I still do. A lot of my work is my stand-up act, condensed into poetry.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Shawn: All these people are still some of my biggest influences, especially Adam Sandler. I think it takes a lot of talent to make people laugh and to be yourself. I’m not writing about serious things. It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay to goof around and to not be serious.

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

Shawn: I grew up in Albany, NY. There’s a real working class mentality there. That definitely influenced my writing. Has made it more grounded in reality, I would say. I’m living in New York City right now. There’s so much talent around me. It really forces me to keep pushing myself and to expand my comfort zone.

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

Shawn: I just put out my first collection of poetry called Mr. Funnyman. I’ve been working on this project for about 5 years. It’s all my material that I would love to perform in front of people at the Laugh Factory one day. I’m very proud of the work in this book.

https://amzn.to/3yrVhvx Amazon link

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

Shawn: I would say performing stand-up for the first time in college. Being able to make people laugh was addicting. I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Shawn: I’m a pretty big movie buff. I’ll watch anything. The crappier the better.

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

Shawn: I just released Mr. Funnyman and that’s available for only $5 on Amazon! Next month, I have a collection of humorous cinema-inspired essays, At the Movies, dropping with Alien Buddha Press. The magazine I run, Daily Drunk http://thedailydrunk.com/, is doing a lot of kick-ass things. We recently released Nostalgic AF: A Video Game Anthology edited by Nick Olson https://www.amazon.com/Nostalgic-AF-Video-Game-Anthology/dp/B0972ZS8GX. We are in the process of putting together One Anthology to Rule them All (which, of course, is a LOTR anthology edited by Josh Sippie). We have a lot of cool projects happening at DD. It wouldn’t be possible without the awesome community that we’ve built there!

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem/writing of yours?

Shawn: From my recent collection, Mr. Funnyman:

“there’s something to be said about destroying the system, but i’m not equipped enough to talk about that mostly because i’m pretty clueless when it comes to economics.

but you know what i am good at?

picking out the right hashtags to use on a selfie to ensure maximum exposure on social media.

did you see how many people liked the photo of us sharing a giant ice cream cone

under the moonlight

on the brooklyn bridge

with the caption: we were mint to be?

like 15.

i’m surprised the algorithm didn’t explode

right on the spot

after exposing its one and only weakness:

couples in love,

feeling hopeful after a first date

has gone well.

it’s truly a remarkable thing

if that mushy concept was actually real. Suckers.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Shawn: Probably my dad. He’s a comedy nerd and knows what works in regard to joke formats. He’s pretty honest when it comes to writing. It’s good to have someone in your corner rooting for you who’s not afraid to tell you something sucks.

other links:

https://shawnbberman.wixsite.com/sbbwriter

https://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/two-poems-8b386bdf-899b-406b-9dd9-7d669b8df9c0

https://stoneofmadnesspress.com/look-were-both-adults-here-shawn-berman

https://thepoetryquestion.com/2020/12/08/tpq5-shawn-berman/

https://riotactmag.com/shawn-berman/