A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Ethan McGuire

with Ethan McGuire:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Ethan: I started trying to write little stories and essays as soon as I could spell, but I did not take my writing seriously until high school. Up to that point, I would write some things down but keep very little. Mostly, I would just make up stories while doing chores on my parents’ hobby farm, or I would dream about
making a living as an outdoors writer for Field & Stream when I grew up, or I would sit at a picnic bench in front of a PVC pipe—pretending the pipe was a microphone—and act like I was reading some radio commentary I had composed.

I never actually took my own writing seriously until the tenth grade, when an English teacher, Dr. Seibert, handed me a writing assignment. I don’t remember the details of that assignment, but I do remember exactly the poem it worked out of me. Something clicked in me then, and I knew, from that moment, I simply had to become a writer.

My first big influence was definitely Louis L’Amour. I consumed his books as a kid. I loved his writing style; loved all the real, lived details he injected into his prose; loved the way he described his
characters’ surroundings—especially the American West—as if the Earth itself was poetry, both magical and mean. I was influenced by various outdoors writers, as I mentioned, in the tradition of Ernest
Hemmingway, because I wanted to brave the harsh elements of the more primitive world and tell people about my adventures. Then, I discovered Milton, reading Paradise Lost in high school. Milton put
me on the path to writing poetry. I had written poetry for sure, but Milton showed me poetry could give me the same feelings of awe and amazement that music did.

Amazon.com: The Sky-Liners: The Sacketts (9780553276879): L'Amour, Louis:  Books

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Ethan: When it comes to writing non-fiction, I have a hard time knowing my biggest influences. I love the movie
reviews of Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael; the historical writing of Stephen Ambrose, Bruce Catton, and Shelby Foote; and the lay theology writing of C.S. Lewis. I love so many others too. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I like too much art!

When it comes to poetry, I can speak better. Probably because I have been focusing most of my recent writing efforts on poetry. I skip fiction because I haven’t written much of it lately.

At the moment, if I were to call myself a disciple of any particular writer, I would single out the poet Dana Gioia. Gioia constantly impresses me with the way he works in both formal and free verse, as well as essays and criticism. One of my personal writing goals is to bring together both old and new poetic styles, which Gioia does. I also appreciate that he works in the literary world without ever being
condescending toward working class readers, toward any non-literary readers, and I appreciate how he brings our attention to the primitive, oral, memorized tradition of poetry. Just consider his
accomplishments as NEA chairman, the “Poetry Out Loud” program, and his “Can Poetry Matter?” essay.

Also, I must mention, I probably receive the most artistic inspiration from music, especially from such artists as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell. Their lyrics coupled with their music give me chills! They speak directly to the human experience, like Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon . . . the list goes on. I feel Cohen’s “tower of song” behind me as I write for sure, and, of course, there is always the struggle to hew out one’s own style and voice.

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

Ethan: I grew up as a hillbilly, really, in the Missouri Ozarks, and I have enjoyed the art of storytelling ever since,well, from before I can remember. My family, on my father’s side, is extremely proud of our Irish heritage, and they have always loved that Irish people have a great reputation as storytellers. As a little
kid at family or church get-togethers, I would sit down and soak up all those stories. Unfortunately, I was never the best at memorization or the oral storytelling tradition, but what I did memorize was the
feelings I experienced listening to the grown-ups tell tales. It was exciting to step into a story in its telling, to imagine along with a speaker.

At about eight years old, I began playing music with my family and friends, and we did that just about every day. Bluegrass, folk, Gospel. In living rooms with huge pots of coffee, on front porches with jugs of sweet tea, at backwoods church “singings,” at outdoor festivals in the heat of the sun, this hill music was forever present in my life, and it gave me a love for poetry.

My parents instilled in me a love for reading too, and I read voraciously as a child, anything I could get my hands on. When the love for storytelling and reading met in me with the act of creating music, I began to want to write my own stories as well.

This hillbilly influence we can call it, that is definitely present in my writing. In the rhythms, the subjects, the word choices, even in my outlook on life. The mountains, the folk music, the hill people’s
superstitions, the fire-and-brimstone preachers, my grandparents telling me about their Great Depression childhoods . . . I find these thumbprints in my writing all the time.

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

Ethan: Moving away from my home in the Ozarks definitely influenced me in that I gained a wider perspective
of the world. Even though most people travel around the country, and even though many people travel around the world, the majority live most their lives where they grew up. Now, this is not necessarily a problem, if people have grown up in a community and stay within that community to thrive, and to help others and the environment around them thrive. As Wendell Berry teaches us, we all need to find
communities and contribute to them, which we cannot do if we are jumping ship every few years.
However, living, even temporarily, in a different environment among different people reminds one of how great the wide world is.

Now, currently I have chosen to live on the Emerald Coast, in Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Living near the sea has enriched my soul. We forget how powerful a force water is on our planet, and constantly being near a gigantic body of water makes you confront that fact, which I try to do on a regular basis.
Countless poets have described the sea, but it never ceases to amaze me. It is such a naturally poetic force, the majesty, the repetition of the waves, the formed formlessness, the wildness tamed in some
way that we hardly even understand.

I have always traveled around the U.S. quite a bit too, although I still need to visit other countries. That I haven’t left America yet is a major weak spot for me. But my parents always traveled, and my wife and I do too, so that gives my writing a sort of restlessness. I certainly am forever wrestling with conflicting desires of individuality and community, which does pop up in my work.

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

Ethan: Music first seduced me as a kid in church, a country church where anyone who wanted to play music was welcome to join in, especially during evening services or monthly “singings.” I would play around with a ruler or something, pretending to pluck an instrument. My father played mandolin, so around eight I decided, “Hey, I want to play the mandolin too!” After learning mandolin, then came guitar, bass, a little singing, helping arrange, writing my own songs. It all happened gradually, but I guess I’ve always
loved music.

Of course, my love for music smoothly transitioned into a love for poetry, especially since I have always enjoyed analyzing lyrics and the way they work with the music around them. That first assignment from Dr. Seibert—where I realized I had to be a writer, if not by profession, by passion—I turned in a poem for that assignment, called “The Warriors.” Actually, an extremely revised version of that poem, called “The Woodsman,” may surface soon from me, so I won’t say much more. My first published piece of writing was a poem too, called “Snow,” with which I won a poetry/picture contest, when I was in tenth grade, a few months after having written “The Warriors.”

So, at that point, I was off to the races, reading anything I could like I had done for years but now with even more purpose, and writing in any genre I could imagine. Paradise Lost, though, as I said, that is the
first time poetry truly awed and amazed me, the way Milton employs blank verse there along with a fantastic vocabulary and imagination in his wonderful retelling of Creation and the Fall of Man. Lines like
this still give me chills:

. . . Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquished, rolling in the firey gulf,
Confounded though immortal. . .

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Ethan: I love the Emerald Coast’s white-sand beaches and warm water. The sunsets we have down here on the
Emerald Coast are breathtaking, all orange fire and navy and lavender. It never gets old. I enjoy kayaking with my wife, taking our young chocolate Labrador out, hiking, being with friends, visiting restaurants, traveling, watching movies, reading, playing and listening to music. Honestly, I probably like too many
things! I need to be more judicious. I like to stay busy but am trying to learn that a certain amount of boredom actually has some value. I need it for my mental health!

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

Ethan: Sure! I would definitely encourage anyone interested in my work to visit my website TheFlummoxed.com where I post my writer’s journey, and I post other stuff too, usually creative writing,
like new poems, essays, etc. that I do not want to submit elsewhere for various reasons. You can follow me on Twitter as well, at @AHeavyMetalPen, where I am most active these days. In the last five months, you here at Fevers of the Mind have published seven poems of mine of which I am quite proud, and I am honored that you have included me in the writing community you are building. Plus, I am currently working on my first poetry collection, which, of course, I hope someone will publish! I appreciate self- publishing, but for one, I am not good at design, not much good at all, and for two, I desire to have some kind of writer/editor collaboration.

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

Ethan: For this question, I will give you something from one of my favorite poems that I have written and something from one of my favorite songs.

First, my own work. Here is a little more than one line, rather a stanza, the small chunk of my writing that I have thought about most the last several months. This is one of my favorite stanzas from my poem “Salt,” which appeared in Fevers of the Mind on February 23rd, in your “Avalanches in Poetry” series:

My upward way is at once my downward.
The downward path, it rises up likewise.
God sees all time present for forever.
I am not God; the night still spreads outside.

For some reason, that stanza regularly spins on repeat in my head.

For a quote from one of my favorite songs, here is my favorite part from the song which most heavily influenced my poem “Salt,” Leonard Cohen’s “The Future,” the bridge of that song:

Things are going to slide,
Slide in all directions.
Won’t be nothing,
Won’t be nothing,
You can measure anymore.
The blizzard,
The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold,
And it’s overturned
The order of the soul.

I think about Cohen’s “The Future” a lot these days, right alongside Krzysztof Kieślowski’s excellent film series The Three Colors Trilogy. Both Cohen’s album The Future and Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy
were released in the same period, the early 1990s, a time of great change and unrest. The Berlin wall was coming down, the European Union was coming up, a changing of the guards was occurring all over the world. Both Cohen and Kieślowski were at once optimistic and pessimistic about these changes. Our world is shaking up again, so I run to the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

Q9: Who has helped you most with with writing?

Ethan: First and foremost, I must mention my parents, siblings, and wife, who have given me invaluable encouragement in all my creative pursuits. My mother encouraged me to read. My father led me to
think critically about all art. My siblings supported me with kind words and collaboration, especially in music.

My wife urges me to pursue creative projects, and she reads and critiques my work; any time I get stuck, she nudges me in a better direction. For example, oftentimes I will be working on a poem, essay, etc., and she will give me some advice completely against current conventions. I will usually take her advice,
but not quite understand it, although I can see that her advice is good. Then, later, I will hear some writer most special to me give the same advice in a lecture or something, and I always think, “Dang!
Maybe my wife should be the writer!”

After my family, there are a few people who jump into my mind.

Andrea Walker, as the editor of the West Florida Literary Federation’s The Legend, published my first poem when I came out of a creative writing publishing hiatus. In the September 2019 issue of The
, Andrea published my poem “Newlywed Song,” which kicked off my transition from primarily publishing non-fiction—especially music and film criticism—to primarily publishing creative writing. The
last thing I had had published of that nature was my contest winner, “Snow,” back in 2009. Andrea went on to publish other pieces from me in The Legend and Life in the Time of Corona, and she is involved in another project of which I will be a part soon. She has always had kind words for my work.

Two other women in the West Florida Literary Federation had a motivating influence on me also, Juliet DeMarko and Debra Stogner. I was in a biweekly poetry workshop with Juliet and Debra, among others, for a little while, and they helped lead me back to the poetry road. In that same vein, I am a member of an online writing community called “The Poetry Pub,” led by Jen and Chris Yokel who have helped me gain confidence in my writing, along with other members like Chris Wheeler, Janna Barber, Shigé Clark,
and Una Kavanagh. Talking about writing communities—and I know “community” is a word I have used a lot; repeating words is a tendency of mine, for good and for bad; let’s call it poetry—I am privileged to be part of the ones built by David O’Nan here at Fevers of the Mind and Brenda Stephens at The Dark Sire.

Finally, I would be remiss if I went without mentioning my friend David Malone, with whom I returned to writing in the first place with our website “E.D. – Music, Movies, Etc.” We are not very active on “E.D.” (yes, the name is a joke), but it is still up. Writing there gave me the courage to share my work with the public.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Ethan McGuire

New Poem : The King & Queen Of Neon by Ethan McGuire

5 micro-poems by Ethan McGuire “Home” “Good Weather Bad” “The Warm Front” “Burnt World-Heart” & “Thorn & Shout”

Salt by Ethan McGuire poetry entry for Avalanches in Poetry 2 Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Anton Pooles

with Anton Pooles:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?


I have always love fairy tales and fantasy, but I never planned on becoming a writer or more specifically a poet. I struggled with reading and writing as a child, and honestly still do, so I had
probably convinced myself I could never be a writer, but somehow, I fell into it. In my mid-twenties I re-discovered many of the Arthurian Romance poems that I had enjoyed reading when I was in
high school and I started writing poems in that style. Poems like “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott we defiantly my entry point for poetry. The plan
was to add these poems into the fairy stories I was writing at the time, but it opposite occurred and the fairy stories found their way into the poems.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?


I’m often find I am more heavily influenced through visual mediums like film and art than I am with writing. I struggled with reading a great deal when I was a child and still do honestly, but I have
always been in love with film. Most of my greatest influencers have been filmmaker like Fritz Lang and Andrei Tarkovsky. One of the most important would have to be Guillermo Del Toro. He has
become a kind of spiritual mentor of mine.

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

Anton: I was raised in Toronto, but I’m not sure it has ever influenced my writing a great deal. However, there are two places I always seem to come back to. The first is a cottage in Brighton, Ontario that
my parents had when I was a child. I spent a good chuck of my childhood there and so it has become the location for a lot of my poems. The second is the city I was born in, which was
Novosibirsk, Siberia. I left when I was a baby, I have never been back and I have no memory of it, but it gnaws at me as a good ghost should.

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

Anton: I have always been fascinated by Vincent Van Gogh and I have always wanted to write something about him. I got the chance to go to the South of France a few years ago and I was able to visit and stay in certain places that he had been. That got me working on a series of poems about him. So, I guess the answer is, yes.

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

Anton: I’m sure there was, but I can’t remember. Sorry.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Anton: As I said before I LOVE film. Last year I watched over two hundred films. I know that may seem
like a lot, but I need the images they supply, they feed the mind.

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

Anton: I am Editor-in-Chief of Cypress: Literary Journal where we publish poetry and flash fiction/non-fiction. We are always open for submission and publish writers worldwide. We have also published
our first print anthology not to long ago called “The Red House: An Anthology of Genre and Speculative Poetry” which is still available.

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

Anton: “I keep the dead alive by walking on winter nights. My visible breath passes into their invisible lungs.” This is from a poem I’m working on called “Lamplight.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Anton: I took a poetry class at the University of Toronto and my instructor was Catherine Graham. She taught me how to bring the fantastical into the modern era without losing any whimsy in the
process. This is, of course, something I greatly admire in her own writing as well. Her collection “Winterkill” had a profound impact on me.





A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Keely O’Shaughnessy

with Keely O’Shaughnessy

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Keely: It’s a very writery answer but I think I’ve always written. I used to make my mum little story books and write a diary. I read everything and anything. I remember being obsessed with Robin Hood stories as a kid. I would rewrite them and try and make them even more magical. But nobody said that I might be good at writing until I was eighteen or nineteen. That’s when I discovered Angela Carter and the joys of magical realism for the first time. And then later, during my degree, I read Raymond Carver endlessly. I wanted only clean, crisp and stark prose then. Thankfully, now a days, I think I manage to strike a good balance somewhere between the two.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Keely: I wouldn’t say I have one main influence but there are many authors and artists I admire. I still love Carver and Carter, only now I read more widely. I love anything written by Jhumpa Lahiri. And flash writing wise, I adore Jules Archer and Kathy Fish. I’m also lucky to be part of a magazine (https://flashfictionmagazine.com/) where I’m surrounded by a wealth of talented writers and editors, who I’m privileged to be friends with. Thinking outside the writing world whenever I’m stuck creatively, I turn to David Bowie.

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

Keely: I was born in Devon in the UK. It’s quite a sleepy and rural place, which boasts both seaside and moorland. I’d say feel most at home in green spaces (I live in the Cotswolds now) and I
think this affinity with nature and the countryside often finds its way into my work. Equally, I like to travel and one of my favourite places to visit is Canada. The extremes that can be found there and the vastness of the landscape is something I find completely captivating.

A picture containing sky, outdoor, grass, field

Description automatically generated

A picture containing sky, outdoor, water, light

Description automatically generated

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

Keely: This is a super hard question and either that means I haven’t achieved anything meaningful or perhaps I see everything that I’ve managed to write as meaningful. A piece of work can mean a lot to you personally as a writer or artist, but I think creating something that moves a reader, something that inspires someone or offers them an alternative perspective is so important.

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

Keely: As I’ve already said, I’ve always harboured ambition of being a writer, but I remember being told in high school that I could never be a writer because of my dyslexia and cerebral palsy. When you have a disability people often make presumptions about your ability and will try and impose limitations on you. But, funnily enough, it was those limitations that spurred me on. I was going to write and create beautiful things.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Keely: I’m a huge fan of TV and films. It’s not considered high culture, but there’s nothing better than relaxing with your favourite show. I’m a sucker for a detective drama. I also enjoy reading (that’s a given,) drawing, needle felting, cooking and baking. I make an awesome chocolate brownie.

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

Keely: Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @KeelyO_writer to read any of my stories or learn about upcoming projects. My website is www.keelyoshaughnessy.com And while I’m here I want to give a shout out to Dialect as I’m just coming to the end of their Arts Council funded mentoring programme and it has been an incredible experience, where I was able to learn and grow as a writer while connecting with other likeminded creatives. I was mentored by novelist Mahsuda Snaith.  

The Things We Thought We Knew: Snaith, Mahsuda: 9781784162573: Amazon.com:  Books

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


“When he’s thirteen, my son, who has his father’s strong jaw and the parts of me that matter, turns into a frog. It’s his skin first. It sheds in large coin-sized discs. I pull off the bigger, dryer flakes and bathe the sores beneath. He’s startled by the patches of green that radiate like sun on stained glass.” 

This is taken from the opening of “What If We Breathed Through Our Skin?” a story which has recently been published in the 2021 National Flash Fiction Day anthology. 

My micro “How to Sow a Wildflower Meadow” was also part of this year’s Flash Flood. It was a privilege to be part of NFFD’s 10th Anniversary.

A shelf with books and toys on it

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Keely: There are so many people who have helped me with my writing it’s hard to narrow the list down to something that would fit in this space, but I have to mention, my husband. He isn’t a writer but he’s my first reader and most of the time I trust his gut reaction to a draft. Second, not in value but in this list, are all my wonderful colleagues at Flash Fiction Magazine. There are also my lecturers from my days studying and the kind and generous writers I’ve met on Twitter. Social media can quite easily be a toxic place but the writing community there has been unbelievably supportive.

3 poems by Keely O’Shaughnessy “The Collector” “And You Thought Me Empty” & “Something Like Mount Rushmore”


My brief author bio is as follows: KEELY O’SHAUGHNESSY (she/her) is a writer and editor with Cerebral Palsy, who has writing forthcoming in the Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology and Complete Sentence. She has been published with Ellipsis Zine, the 2021 NFFD anthology, and Not Deer Magazine, among others. She is Managing Editor at Flash Fiction Magazine. When not writing or editing, she likes discussing David Bowie with her cat. Find her on Twitter @KeelyO_writer.



A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with O’Phylia Smiley

with O’Phylia Smiley

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

O’Phylia: I’ve written since I was a child. I started writing poetry at 7 when I first learned about Phyllis Wheatley. Our teacher explained her poetry to us and I thought, I could do that. 

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

O’Phylia: Eve L. Ewing, Chen Chen, Victoria Chang, Mellisa Lozada-Oliva, and N.K. Jemisin.

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

O’Phylia: I grew up in the South. I was born in Virginia and lived there for 8 years, but most of my poetry takes inspiration from the bayou in lower Alabama where I grew up. Wetlands make me feel powerful, feel enriching like nothing else to me. There’s something so wonderful about a space in nature that cannot be controlled. The kudzu and Spanish moss draw me in as well. People are so angry about how kudzu covers everything, about how it’s an invasive species, as if kudzu walked over and just decided to make things miserable for humans. The vine was brought here and people are mad that it thrived. 

Though my poetry is heavily inspired by my hometown, Celtic stories have an influence in the stories I write. I’ve always been interested in Ireland, and going there in 2008 cemented my love for the fae. 

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

O’Phylia: Flame Work,” a poem recounting what my family does when there’s been a death of a child, is something that I’m so glad I get to share with the world. I’m often the quiet one on my mother’s side of the family, but I love them dearly. I often say my poems are apologies, but this one is more of a letter of gratitude. 

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

O’Phylia: Not necessarily. I’ve always been a writer, and I knew that even if I didn’t get anything published,  I would write regardless. I suppose when I discovered lit mags I realized I didn’t have to publish an entire manuscript of poetry at once. Framing it as a few pieces at a time made the decision less daunting. 

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

O’Phylia: Reading, of course. I enjoy scrapbooking and doing collages to relax; it’s nice to have something that doesn’t involve screens. I also enjoy pole fitness since you can have tangible results like getting into a trick you’ve practiced for months. It’s nice to have something I can see for myself.

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

O’Phylia: Wizards in Space and Black Girls Create included my poem Flame Work in the anthology These Bewitching Bonds. I couldn’t be more honored to be alongside such great writers. You can order the e-anthology here

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

O’Phylia: From “Miriam,” published in issue 2, of Occulum Mag: “…I have no qualms/ About drowning you.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

O’Phylia: Arielle Tipa, writer and editor of Occulum Mag, and Swapna Krishna, who offered her mentor services to me. 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Gill McEvoy

with Gill McEvoy:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Gill: As I’ve written in a poem my first true word was “Scissors” when my mother was angry at me for taking her sewing scissors to play with. I think I’ve loved words ever since especially as my aunt taught me to read early and I found the ability to read words and to cherish the sounds of words themselves wonderful, and regarded them almost with religious awe. I collected them too, the longer the better, swapping them with others at school. “Tintinabulation” was one of our favourites until someone came up with “susurration”.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Gill: So many poets have had influence over my work it feels unfair to pick one out. I love the brevity of Jane Kenyon, and also of Chinese and Japanese poetry. I often turn to the work of Tomas Transtromer, Ted Kooser, Louis Macneice, Wendell Berry, the late Anna Adams, Eavan Boland, Derek Mahon and Tony Hoagland.

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

Gill: childhood was spent in many different parts of England, mostly in the country where I learned to love wildflowers, trees, birds and insects and these appear frequently I my poems. As an adult I spent time in USA, Finland Canada and Ireland and many of my poems reflect these periods in my life, in particular the USA.

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

Gill: Of all my work the collection most difficult to write was my pamphlet “The First Telling”, (Happenstance Press 2014) It deals with the aftermath of rape, not, I’m pleased to say, my own experience but that of someone very dear to me. It won public approval by winning the 2015 Michael Marks Award, as a result of which I had an amazing two-week residency in Greece as guest of the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Nafplion.

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

Gill: From childhood I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I don’t think I expected to become a poet, though I wrote poetry for many years before ever thinking to publish it. My pivotal moment here, and it was enormous, was being diagnosed in 2000 with late-stage ovarian cancer. It was thought I wouldn’t survive but I did, thankfully.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax? no answer

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

Gill: I have gone on since then to write intensely, poetry as my metier, to have 3 full collections and 3 pamphlets published and to win a number of prizes for my work. My recent collection is “Are You Listening?” (Hedgehog Press 2020) that traces the journey through my grief for my late husband.


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

Gill: I don’t have a favourite line from any of my poems, but I do have a favourite poem I’m really proud of having written and it is “Football, Kuala Lumpur”, about boys playing the game in monsoon rain and frogs springing from the storm drains to play at their own games. The first stanza reads “Rain.. ..loves/ the way the open hands/ of city trees receive it/ the way its great drops/trampoline the pavements.” It was published in “The Plucking Shed” (Cinnamon press 2010).

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Gill: Of all the professional encouragement and help I received in my writing the greatest came from Helena Nelson, editor of Happenstance Press. She was kind, expressed belief in my work, and gave me much valuable advice. I am very grateful to her.