A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Karen Steiger

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Karen: I fell in love with writing as a young child, starting with an illustrated biography of our family cat, Garfield, which sent me to the Young Authors’ Conference in 3rd grade. (I’ve always been a sucker for any kind of conference or convention.) The following year, a creative writing class with Ms. Jancose continued to ignite my passion. I started writing terrible novels, which led to slightly better stories and first chapters of novels written throughout my life. I only seriously started exploring poetry in 2017 when my friend Amanda Dickson started a poetry writing group. My first influences included C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary and Star Trek.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Karen: My biggest influence today, not just in art but in life in general, is Monty Python.

Amazon.com: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition): Graham  Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin,  Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Mark Forstater, Michael White, Michael White  Productions;

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

Karen: I grew up in Northwest Indiana, in a small town called Griffith, in the shadow of Chicago and undoubtedly in a cloud of pollution from our oil refineries and steel mills. (I’m sure riding my bike in the wake of the town’s mosquito fogger truck didn’t help either!) Nevertheless, it was a great place to grow up in the 1980s as a free-range kid. It’s a region of hard workers who battle lake effect snowstorms and mid-summer heatwaves and the disdain of Illinois city-dwellers and fellow Hoosiers alike. I also felt like an outsider during much of my adolescence as a small, nerdy bookworm with absolutely no athletic ability. I think that this upbringing helped me to develop my ambition and perseverance, the latter being the most important quality in a writer/poet. I’ve been a huge Anglophile for most of my life (see: Monty Python obsession), so one of my most influential trips was a six-week study-abroad program in London when I was 19. I’ve written a number of pieces about London and that trip in particular, including “Maida Vale,” which was published by the Wells Street Journal in 2019. https://t.co/YwQVYiCsgK?amp=1

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

Karen: The most meaningful work that I’ve done creatively so far is explore my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. I have a full-length collection about this experience that I am starting to shop around for publication, and I hope that someday it can provide comfort and some humor for someone facing the same experience. Here is a link to “Mastectomy,” published at Sledgehammer Lit, as an example. https://t.co/G6aAwf3Xoy?amp=1

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

Karen: When I joined my friend Amanda’s poetry writing group, I was honestly intending to spend that time to continue to wrestle with the novel I had been working on. But when she read out our first poetry prompt, the words just started pouring out of me with a joy and abandon that I hadn’t experienced while writing in a long, long time. With fiction writing, I often felt like a penguin trying to fly. But with poetry writing, I feel like a penguin swimming. (Even though I’m expecting at any moment for someone to tell me I’m not writing poetry correctly.)

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Karen: To be honest, I spend a lot of my free time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. But I love to play mountain dulcimer and have found a very special community of musicians in my classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I also enjoy reading, volunteering with my local greyhound rescue group, Greyhounds Only, forest walks, and learning foreign languages.

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

Karen: I always like to refer people to my blog, The Midlife Crisis Poet, where you can find a lot of my work and a list of my publications. http://themidlifecrisispoet.com

I also would like to direct people to recent publications at Bombfire Lit, and two poems will soon appear in Journal of Erato’s “Coming of Age” issue: https://t.co/sylgxC3Nyj?amp=1

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

Karen: One of my favorite lines that I’ve written appears in “A Bit of a Meltdown” in Crow and Cross Keys. “I casually disemboweled myself the other day/ in front of a crowd of people.” https://t.co/06isyfWGL5?amp=1

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Karen: I have to thank my writing friends, especially Amanda Dickson, Melissa Kramer, Emily Patterson-Kane, Jesse William Olson, Raymond Wlodkowski, Padraig Johnston, for their thoughtful reading and feedback.


Twitter: @maisedawg

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Marisa Silva-Dunbar

with Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Marisa: I seriously started writing when I was 18. I took an intro to creative writing poetry, and that workshop helped me become a poet. My influences at the time were Sarah E. Azizi, Francesca Lia Block and Sandra Cisneros.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Marisa: I really enjoy Amber Tamblyn’s writing. Dark Sparkler is a collection that is always on my mind.

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

Marisa: I lived in Miami for seven years, and the rest of my youth was spent in New Mexico. I definitely feel the Southwest has had more of an influence on me. The desert is with me no matter where I go. In some ways it’s paradise.

I also spent two years in England, and that experience has stayed with me. I’ve written some about the people I met, and the city I lived in. At some point I would like to have at least a micro-chap focused on my time there.

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

Marisa: I would say my manuscript about Allison Mack (who was in the cult NXIVM and one of the women in DOS). I used both her own blog, and the Frank Report (one of the first places to break the news) to create remixed poems. I also wrote original work as well. It’s taken me three years to get it where it is today, and at the time I started creating it and did most of the writing, I was in a relationship with a narcissist. Mack was under the spell of Raniere who is also a narcissist. So I feel like there were parallels I was unaware of at the time. I wrote about her unraveling when I was losing control of my own life.

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

Marisa: I knew I wanted to be a poet after my first semester of creative writing, but I didn’t realize it was home until I was attending a class while studying abroad. Something just clicked then and it felt right.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Marisa: I enjoy listening to true crime stories, or watching crime related shows, and the Golden Girls. I love dancing bachata, playing board games with friends, drawing, and one of my absolute favorite things to do is going for late night drives with a close friend.

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

Marisa: I have an upcoming piece in “Denmark: An Eyes Wide Shut Anthology.” https://dailydrunkmag.com/2020/12/28/denmark-or-creating-an-anthology-of-writing-about-eyes-wide-shut/

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem of yours or others?

Marisa: From my poem “Kristin Kreuk appears in my dream to give me feedback

“She is in the old ship treehouse at Meow Wolf—
the white paper blossoms blind in the pink light.
I have searched for her, wanting to offer my words—
weigh them against a feather—divine the truth.”

Link to the entire piece: https://kristingarth.com/pink-plastic-house-a-tiny-journal/pink-plastic-house-a-dollhouse-of-poetry/tv/kristin-kreuk-appears-in-my-dream-to-give-me-feedback-by-marisa-silva-dunbar/

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Marisa: Who has helped you most with writing? A. E. Copenhaver has provided the most help. She provides constructive criticism, and is always supportive. She challenges me to be a better writer, and I find her work inspiring.

Bio: Marisa Silva-Dunbar is a Latina poet from the Southwest. Hundreds of her poems have been published in the last decade. Her poetry has been nominated for both Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry, and she is the founder of Neon Mariposa Magazine. She co-edited the anthology Kirstofia and is the author of #becky and When Goddesses Wake. Her first full-length collection, “Allison” will be published later this year by Querencia Press. When she is not writing, Marisa enjoys discussing pop culture and history. To check out more of her work, go to www.marisasilvadunbar.com

Twitter: @thesweetmaris













A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Syreeta Muir

with Syreeta Muir

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Syreeta: I have been writing little stories, poems and riddles since childhood, exclusively for myself, haha. I only started sharing them with other people a few years ago. I was influenced by what was around me and wrote, maybe like a lot of writers, as a means of puzzling the world. They are my “workings out”.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Syreeta: e. e. cummings, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Pinter, Beckett, Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, Emily Brontë, Jeanette Winterson, dot, dot, dot

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

Syreeta: I moved around a fair bit. I was born in Germany, then we moved to a very small village in the South West U.K. aged around 2. Then Germany again aged 12. Then back to the little village aged 16. I left home at 16 and ran away to the Big City. Well, Manchester.

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

Syreeta: It’s all meaningful to me. Even the things I consider poor quality or that nobody ever sees. It’s all part of the document of myself, warts and all, in a riddled, metaphorical kind of way.

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

Syreeta: I think I always wanted that, but lacked the confidence to name it. During a discussion with a writers collective I am part of online, we talked about the fear of what to call yourself if you haven’t been published yet. Should you preface with “aspiring” or “emerging”? I decided to just call myself poet, because that’s what I feel is true.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Syreeta: Um. I’m fairly boring. I walk and take pictures of stuff. Weird, small, beautiful, sad stuff. Also, a lot of movies and tv. A lot. Currently I’m watching Sweet Tooth, Loki and rewatching Fleabag

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

Syreeta: Not currently. Fingers crossed, though, I’m waiting on several submissions. Can I use this space to shout-out a few other artists and writers instead? From Twitter: @LionessPoet

All of these strange, amazing creatures have things, right now, that more people really should be aware of.

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

Syreeta: Everyday, I’d tidy my room,
pick up small, incendiary pieces of myself off the carpet,
contain anything flammable in a diary; none of these measures were enough to prevent the fires from happening.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Syreeta: My English teacher, Mr Entwistle, who at 15 helped me hone a poem and then read it out in front of the class as an example of how to write one. Simultaneously the proudest and most excruciating moment of my writing life to date.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Sarra Culleno

with Sarra Culleno

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Sarra: I’ve always written short stories and poems. My mother’s garage in Wembley is choc-full to the rafters with old notebooks and scribbles on scrap paper, going right back to primary school. She is quite the hoarder. I started submitting pieces for publishing in the last two or three years. One of the best things about writing is that you can dip in and out, as infrequently as you like, at any level and at any age.

As a child I loved Dahl, Enid Blyton and The Worst Witch. Lots of the stories and poems I wrote as a child in those old scrap books feature an element of the absurd, mythological, and surreal, which has followed me through to how I write today. Later on, I became a little obsessed with Sylvia Plath and I still see some structural similarities emerging in my poems from time to time.

Q2: Who are your influences today?

Sarra: I’m an English and Media teacher, so it’s often very hard not to be influenced by what I’m teaching at the time! When I’m teaching three different Shakespeare plays simultaneously, sometimes I spontaneously write quotes or paraphrases of them into my WIPs. Right now, I love Kate Clanchy’s work and in using her teaching resources for poetry I have tidied up many of my own poems. For my hybrid prose poems featured in Fevers of the Mind, I experimented with a similar structure to Inua Ellams’ The Actual, as I wanted to emphasise a more fluid, stream-of-consciousness feel to the narratives. I’ve read recently, Elena Ferrante, Zoe Glibert, Alison Bechdel, and Bernadine Evaristo novels – each one resonated with me, and I’m struck by how many of us are telling similar stories from different approaches and perspectives.

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

Sarra: I grew up in Wembley, North London. In the 80’s and 90s, it was a very special place. I feel incredibly privileged to have experienced a completely cocooned, melting-pot bubble of normalised multiculturalism as a child. My best friends were Polish-Venezuelan and Scottish-Philippino, and West Indian-Welsh. Every family on our street and in our schools was of some mixed heritage or another, including ours. All the kids were a varying shade of tan, and only our hair texture might give a clue as to which continents may be in our DNA. I feel like London has always been this way – the Romans founded it after all. It’s not even a British city – it’s Italian! So, it’s exactly where we belonged, and actually we could never really belong anywhere else. I remember visiting our ‘white’ cousins in Hampshire and feeling “I could never belong here unless I pretended to be an English Rose”, but I never felt that way in London. So many race poets lament a dislocated self, displacement, and prejudice. Wembley was a safe, secure, wonderful place to grow-up as a mixed-race person, so much so, that when I left London as an adult it was a saddening shock. I’ve written many times in gratitude.

My father is Irish, and he dutifully imparted plenty of Heaney, folklore and myth on to us, and of course, plenty of rants about the Colonial injustices of the British Empire! Ties to the land, and descriptions of landscapes, manifesting in giants and selkies and banshees, reoccur as motifs in much of my writing. My mother is Persian, which is a culture seeped in poetry – the tombs of their poets are enormous tourist attractions. I remember her stories about how they would travel miles just to touch the shrines of Hafez or Saadi. I have internalised many of the humanist teachings of the Persian poets, and sometimes I realise their messages at the core of my own work. The Zoroastrian mythology from Ferdowsi’s Shanameh never fails to enthral me; the ancient rock reliefs depicting its heroes are breath-taking and are the inspiration for my work in progress. 

Q4: Which of your work is most meaningful to you to date?

Sarra: I am most sentimental about my novella, Machina Ex Deus. At the time I wrote it, I was teaching my A Level class about Afrofurturism as a subgenre of Sci-Fi, reading about the abominations carried out in America’s ICE centres, and listening to Climate-Fiction podcasts from Alternative Stories. Together in my mind, these came to form Taima City – a post-apocalyptic Abu Dhabi one hundred years from now. The overall theme is of mother-child attachments, which is something of a recurring topic for me.

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

Sarra: A few years ago, I attended That’s What She Said, in Manchester, hosted by the formidable Jane Bradley. I’d been to poetry nights before, but this one is captivating. Jane’s kind encouragement meant I signed up for a five-minute slot and later started submitting work to publishers. Lockdown gave me time and focus, so that I could do this in earnest for the first time.


Q6: What are your favorite activities?

Sarra: Lockdown suited me very nicely… reading, cooking, sewing, painting, nature walks, music, yoga, yoga and more yoga! In more sociable times, I sometimes sing in an Irish band.

Q7: Do you have any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Sarra: My first book is out in November 2021, entitled Bonds: A Short Story Collection, with Caab Publishing. The book includes three short stories and a novella, exploring universal ties, cords, and attachments, examining what it means to be bonded as parent to child. I’ve often heard the advice ‘write what you want to read’. I’ve never found the important theme of infant/maternal bonding to be represented enough in my favourite genres, I hope I have filled a hole.


Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?


(insta handles for the following heroes) Jane Bradley @janeclairebradley from That’s What She Said, AndyN Poet @andynpoet from Speak Easy, Chris Gregory @stories.alt from Alternative Stories and Fake Realities, and of course, the marvellous David O’Nan @DavidLONan1 from @FeversOf As a teacher, I realise your encouragement and belief in a writers’ words, is the catalyst to them sharing it.

A Sarra Culleno Poetry Feature : poems, writings

4 poems by Sarra Culleno: “Grave Soak” “Periapt” “Beacon” & “Black Out”





A Poetry Showcase from Sarra Culleno

Wolfpack Contributor: Sarra Culleno


Bio: Sarra Culleno is a British BAME poet, mother and English teacher who performs her writing at
events across the UK. She writes about children’s rights, motherhood, identity, gender, age,
technology, the environment, politics, modern monogamy and education. Sarra is widely
published. She has written fiction and poetry for publication, performance, print, audiodramas,
podcasts and radio. Sarra was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize, for Nightingale
and Sparrow’s Full Collections 2020, and nominated for Best of the Net 2020 by iambapoet.
Sarra co-hosts Write Out Loud at Waterside Arts, and performs as guest and featured poet at
numerous literary festivals.
Youtube.com/user/sarra1978 – YouTube
@sarracullenopoetry – Instagram
@sarra1978 – Twitter
Sarra1978@hotmail.com – Email
facebook.com/sarracullenopoetry – FaceBook

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Alan Parry

with Alan Parry

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?


I began writing in my teens. I wanted to be a songwriter, I was a songwriter. A bloody awful one, but one all the same. Through my late teens I got into The Doors in a big way, I’ve now a bunch of themed, Doors tattoos. I really dug Dylan, The Specials, and Frank Zappa too. I liked the anger, the rebellion, the demand for justice that they displayed. My early work had a lot of that about it. It’s not very good and much of it has been lost (Phew). 

At school, I was very interested in the diasporic writers that were on the syllabus at the time, as well as Adrian Henri and John Cooper Clarke, who I met at a gig when I was fifteen. He just oozed cool. 

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?


Well, I’m heavily influenced by what I’m reading, and I’ve not read lots of poetry recently, save for a pair of Andrew McMillan collections I was gifted in April. 

It would be remiss of me to ignore the poetry community I’m a part of. Poets like Dave Hanlon and Eli Horan who write explicitly about personal experience have influenced my most recently finished collection. I wanted to mine my own life and be a little more introspective and reading their work and listening to them read helped that endeavour. 

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

Alan: I grew up in Southport, just north of Liverpool. Half my family are scouse musicians. The music they play and talked about helped me learn about phrasing and I think my best work has a musicality about it, which is owing to that grounding. 

I spent some time in Cuba which did much the same. I sat in the bar that Hemingway sat in, how could I not be inspired? Also, a lot of my more recent work is inspired by holidaying with family in North Wales, even if it is something as simple as the name of a hymn, or a jellied slate path I remember that finds its way into a poem.

Ernest Hemingway in Cuba

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


Well, in terms of my own work, putting out my debut collection Neon Ghosts was a massive deal. I learned a lot from the process, and I feel that it lends me authenticity as an editor to have been through that process. I’ve had other offers for more recent collections that I have turned down, because they didn’t feel right. But that first one was always going to be the hardest. 

My forthcoming collection is more personal and means more to me, due to the people I write about, the places I go, and how I handle them. I hope I will be seen to have done them justice. 

However, my most meaningful work is probably the work I do with The Broken Spine, where we are trusted with other artists work, and we give a leg up to young and emerging artists. https://thebrokenspine.co.uk/shop/

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

Alan: Yeah, a barbecue with a friend from school. We were going to write a hit sitcom together and put on a production of Macbeth after school. It never happened. He had gone to uni and started writing with somebody else, I’d gotten married and had children. I went back to education on the back of that night. I took a creative writing module, developed a monologue for the stage and started writing poetry again. That was the spur.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Alan: I love watching live stand up comedy, and live music. I could go to a gig every night and never get bored. Visiting new places is cool, swimming in the sea is freeing, but I can’t escape my love for the arts. For me that trumps nature.

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

Alan: I have a forthcoming collection of twenty something poems, but cannot really say much about that right now. It is with a small press, who have promised me creative control and that was hugely important to me. 

I cannot escape plugging what we do at The Broken Spine, it sort of defines me right now. Eating up most of my spare time, we’ve just released Stuart M Buck’s latest chapbook, Blue the Green Sky and reviews have been incredible.

I’m in the very early stages of creating a new series under The Broken Spine umbrella, with Stuart M Buck. BOLD Arts Zine will publish work that is centred on the theme of masculinity. It is inspired by my academic research and our mutual love of coming of age literature, especially The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Andrew McMillan’s work. 

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


Well, I think the best line I ever wrote is in a poem from a collection that is about my hometown, I worked with Paul Robert Mullen, Mary Earnshaw, and David Walshe to complete that project. It’s out for submission right now, that line is… 

‘cars, abandoned by amblers& twilight photographers,collect like dead flies on a windowsill’ 

It says a great deal about my Southport. 

My favourite line of somebody else’s work, well this is a toss up between this from Stuart M Buck’s ‘Maps’…

‘… the last time i saw guy taylor was yesterdayand my teacher says i will never see him againand if i am lucky i will be let back into schoolbut by god if i ever so much as touch anyonehe will throw me out and my mum is sad andmy dad is sad and i am sad because i do notknow if guy is sad…’

And this from Bukowski’s’ The Mockingbird’.. 

‘… yesterday the cat walked calmly up the drivewaywith the mockingbird alive in its mouth,wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,feathers parted like a woman’s legs…’ 

Any artwork by Stuart Davis will excite me too! 

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?


Easy I owe all my recent successes to the advice of Matthew MC Smith and Paul Robert Mullen. They have helped me to create two collections I’m very proud of. Poetry & Interview with Matthew M C Smith & Black Bough Poetry Poems by Paul Robert Mullen in Fevers of the Mind Anthologies (2019)

Jay Rafferty, Lizzie Kemball and Dave Hanlon deserve special mention for the advice they offered via our small community of poets. And of course David Walshe and Mary Earnshaw for their help improving my work in that hometown collection. Books to Read in 2021: Spectrum of Flight by David Hanlon

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