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.

https://amzn.to/3iEuyFP

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.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Sarika Jaswani (artincrochet)

with Sarika Jaswani:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Sarika: -I believe writing must do more with listening than it has ever been emphasized. A writer listens to the stories that speak to his/her mind. If I’ve to say when I started writing, then indisputably I will roll back time to my childhood when dad narrated his bed-time stories in his classic commentary style and lulled us to sleep. He has to date been my biggest influences in story writing. I have been a blogger for a while now but since few years I have delved into writing and have few self-published and illustrated children’s stories up my sleeve. Poetry became a tantivy follow. https://spinayarntellatale.wordpress.com

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Sarika: -With a bachelor’s degree in medical field and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical and Community Psychology my interest has naturally been inclined towards theoretical/metaphysical studies. My philosophical upbringing has had influence on my choice of reading. I really enjoy Steve Hagen, founder, and head teacher of Zen Center in Minneapolis. Steve’s writing is a marriage of science and spirituality, which I find fascinating. He has been my greatest influence in all ort of my personal story writes that I’ve whipped out on my Blogspot. http://sarikajaswani.blogspot.com

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

Sarika: My country of origin is India. The plus side of growing in a diverse country is getting enriched in art and knowledge of languages. Born in a country that identifies itself with nativity of 60 different languages and several cultures, I am bound to know five or more languages by default. I might be fluent in writing English, but I speak my mother tongue more fluently. I enjoy listening to Hindi poetry and I understand Gujarati equally well. With being fluent in variety of languages you are gifted with a broader brush stroke to paint an emotive picture and create an evocative art. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088QNZ8C3/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_eTAWEb0A3FGKP

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

Sarika:

Doctor by profession. I am a Crochet Artist, Art Tutor Writer of Children’s Stories, Philanthropist. Poet. Published. Passionately reads & writes poetry. Art Lover. Bird lover. Dreamer and blogger.

Published on 

-‘Tide Rises Tide Falls’

-On Medium with A Cornered Gurl @ACG @Scrittura

-Fever Of Mind Poetry on WordPress

-Silver Birch Press

-a frequent vss prompt writer on twitter. 

My poems run on themes of love, reflection, and philosophy of life. 

My most meaningful work is non-profit ArtInCrochet

ArtInCrochet is a decade old non-profit, donating hats & scarfs to orphanages & shelter homes. Fundraising since 2016-2020 through sale of handmade crochet items has raised more than $3000 & counting for kids in need.

Donation have been done to:

@ Camphill Village – New York 

@ Jars of Clay – Atlanta 

@ Knit for Sewa – India 

@ Children’s Hospital Atlanta 

@ Kids In Need Foundation

@Access Life America

@ Orphanages around Atlanta 

@ Hanuman Temple – Atlanta

@ VHPA- Atlanta Chapter

@ Shiv Temple of Atlanta

@ Oklahoma City Health Department 

@ American Heart Institute

@ St. Jude Children’s Research Institute 

@ Autism Speaks

@ World Food Program 

@ Warm Up America

@ Walter Reed Military Medical Center

@ Atlanta Women’s Shelters 

@ Lion Brand Hat no Hate Campaign

@ Children’s Miracle Network of Atlanta 

@ Focus & Fragile 

@ Grenada Alumni

@ PureHearts.org

Sarika Jaswani is a certified crochet instructor from American Craft Council. She has conducted classes at Alpharetta Main Branch Library, Art Center Alpharetta & Michael’s Community Classroom Alpharetta Georgia. She has authored Original Children’s Stories for her toy with stories series and are available as nook book on BN.com & Amazon Kindle read.

Funds raised through her teaching crochet art are used to donate books to various underprivileged schools around the world. Etsy page www.etsy.com/shop/ArtInCrochet

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/poet?

Sarika:

Love drives art. It is an ultimate fuel for an artist. Gain and loss, both are the biggest inspiration for a        writer/poet. Poetry is the child birthed with labor of emotions that an artist endures. I do believe we all need a way of expressing and reaching out to others. Being a recluse hermit myself, writing always has been a creative and a salubrious way for pronouncing my emotions.

Reading stories to my kids has been an inspiration to write illustrative stories for children. Story telling has been my favorite part of parenting. I have volunteered at schools to make puppet theaters and have phrased stories to go along.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Sarika: I enjoy reading/audible a lot of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose. I enjoy watching tv shows, movies. I also enjoy listening to all kinds of music and karaoke. Other than that my day is filled with activities that revolve around my two kids. Charity fundraisers and making crochet inventory for sale are the major highlights of my activities to occupy my planner.

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

Sarika: I am stoked for acceptance of my manuscript by New York based Austin Macauley Publishers.

I am still debating publishing my work, but I definitely am looking forward to writing more inspiring poetry for acceptance and publication in main stream media and establish myself as a poetess.

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

Sarika:

Too Many Names -By Pablo Neruda

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Sarika: I love vss365 community on twitter. They are the creme de la creme of kindness. They motivate, inspire and uplift. My best way to stay inspired is to open my twitter app and take in beautiful poetry with a cup of tea each morning😊 https://www.twitter.com/sarikajaswani

#stopthehate challenge poem by Sarika Jaswani

A Book Review of Pen Muses a compilation of 60 poems by Sarika Jaswani (reviewed by Mashaal Sajid)

New poetry by Sarika Jaswani (artincrochet) : Since You’ve been gone…

Untitled micropoem by Sarika Jaswani

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Sarika Jaswani

2 poems by Sarika Jaswani /ArtInCrochet

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2021/07/16/an-empty-page-by-sarika-jaswani-i-am-still-waiting-series/

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Peter Hague

with Peter Hague:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Peter: My first experiences with serious writing came in 1972, inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen. At that time, I was well aware of his music, but I saw a copy of his book: ‘The energy of Slaves’ in a shop window and bought it. I then bought all of his books – poetry and novels, which many will be surprised to learn, go back to the mid-1950s. I found his style deeply intriguing and often laced with humour. I was a student then, miles from home and starting to explore a sudden new world. I think Cohen’s work filled in some of the blank spaces and energised a new creativity in me.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Peter: I have no current influences. I think that I have found my voice now, after all this time and continue to develop it. However, I am still greatly motivated by all the true and worthy influences I have had over the years. Shortly after Leonard Cohen, I discovered T.S Eliot and many more. These people still influence me today: Wallace Stevens; Kathleen Raine; Anne Sexton; Sylvia Plath; Philip Larkin; Robert Lowell; Edward Thomas – many more.

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

Peter: I grew up in the North of England but I do not consider myself to be a “northern poet”. I spent a period of my early life in the south west, which seems much further away than it is now, and I think the outcome of that developed the idea that it was best to try to be international. I feel more comfortable using my words to reach a wide range of people and I have always associated myself with America. I have also always been interested in the bold national diversities of European countries and their traditions. Individuals worldwide are for the most part, very similar in needs and ambition and although this can help to simplify the message, it offers the need for deeper creativity and a broader brush.

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

Peter: Well, the answer to that will always be my poetry, especially now I have decided to devote the remaining years of my life to it. I spent most of my life in the world of visual arts, as a creative director, and also a recent decade as a digital artist, using the art name ‘e-brink’. You can see my updated web site covering that period at: www.e-brink.co.uk. However, throughout the years I have always continued to write and study poetry and have completely redesigned my main web site, which is now all about my current writing. The address is https://www.peterhague.com. This is me finally putting my writing first and I have a great deal to offer, with more books already in production featuring both new and old work.

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

Peter: I think that goes back to when I had just left school and worked briefly as a painter and decorator. I remember being up a ladder painting a gutter when I suddenly had an epiphany (partly guided by ideas from my Mother). I promptly decided to apply to the local Art School, which I did – that was the start of it – two years of revelation. I later spent three years at The West of England College of Art in Bristol (School of Art and Design – UWE Bristol) doing a graphic design course.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Peter: I have been known to read.

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

Peter: I’ve just published two books of poetry and will be spending some time promoting them. ‘Hope in the Heart of Hatred’ is intended to be a bridging book between the work I am doing now and my early work. ‘Gain of Function’ is my very latest work. It features one hundred and two poems, some of which have been published in various places, including Twitter and your very own, Fevers of the Mind.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0976BLVNL

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

Peter:

As the first wave rebounds
from the squalor of population,
we wear its shadow
like a stiff, new coat.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Peter: Throughout my life I have always returned to writing and I have tried hard to perfect what I do with it. Editing is the main part of everything I do and I have learnt so much from revising my own work. Therefore, I think I would have to say to this question that I mostly helped myself. Having said that, all the influences mentioned above and my study of their work has been priceless. Being a writer is not easy though. There is a definite sense, real or imagined, that the world is pushing back. You really have to be confident in your own talent and purpose to keep going. Having done so, over the years, I now have complete confidence in my work.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Peter Hague

2 poems by Peter Hague in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Avalanches in Poetry 2 entries by Peter Hague : “I Did Not Want it Darker””Between Leonards” “Following Leonard”

Twitter @PeterHague

https://www.peterhague.com/


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Tim Heerdink

with Tim Heerdink:

Tim Heerdink is the author of Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well, The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, Checking Tickets on Oumaumua, Sailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call, Ghost Map, A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, and short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2. His poems appear in various journals and anthologies. He is the President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Tim: My love for writing started back in elementary school when I’d write stories prompted four our weekly journal entries. My teachers said I was on to something, which is ironic, because I went to fail a number of English classes in high school while writing songs for bands I fronted with the hope of getting a record out. Poetry that wasn’t song lyrics came in when I took creative writing classes in college, where I excelled once again.

Some of my first influences included Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Sylvia Plath, W.H. Auden, and Anne Sexton.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Tim: Much of my influence comes from writers I know. There are three poets along with myself that I call the Four Horsemen: Tony Brewer, Jon Koker, and Joseph Fulkerson. Mike Whicker left an everlasting impression with me when I first started publishing books back in 2018. One of the major subjects I write about is the Holocaust. He’s big on World War II history and has a wonderful series of books set in that era along with the standalone, Flowers for Hitler. Two professors who helped shape my poetic mind are Matthew Graham and Marcus Wicker.

Eva Kor, Elie Wiesel, Stephen Nasser, and all the other Holocaust survivors in the world continue to inspire me.

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

Tim: I grew up in Chandler, Indiana, which is not far from the city of Evansville where I was born. We had a nice house in the country away from the trouble that may have ensued if we stayed where we were living for the first six years of my life. Our old neighborhood became run down over the years. It was nice to be able to perform music outside your house, ride bikes, and just be a kid without neighbors complaining or traffic running you down.

Nature is inspiring for sure. My love for birds shows in A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread from Between Shadows Press.


Travel is important to my life and my work. A number of poems drew inspiration from being in different places. Red Flag and Other Poems and Razed Monuments both take from my study of the Holocaust while visiting concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

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

Tim:

My most meaningful work would have to be my efforts to keep the Holocaust in conversation with Red Flag and Other Poems and Razed Monuments. While the former stresses the importance of remembrance, the latter builds upon that ideology and asks that history not be razed but built as a memorial so others can be vigilant in current events.

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

Tim: Teachers telling me I had something going for me with my writing growing up gave me confidence. One of my childhood friends had an author for a father. I always thought it’d be amazing to have my own books someday.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Tim: One of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is play board games. I’d love to design my own game in the future. My favorites are Scythe, Tapestry, and Wingspan, which are all from Stonemaier Games. Wingspan also helped influence me to write A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread.

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

Tim: Tony Brewer and I are back on tour this summer. My two latest books, Ghost Map and A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, are limited runs that have sold out, so I’m primarily pushing Razed Monuments since it was my last widespread release from Finishing Line Press in December 2020. Also in tow are previous books, The Human Remains, which was the book we started touring on before the pandemic, and Red Flag and Other Poems.



The Midwest Writers Guild, of which I am president, started a chapbook series this year. My offering in February included Checking Tickets of Oumaumua, a collection of space-oriented poems.



Another limited run chapbook I put out in March saw a great departure from my usual style. Sailing on the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call was published by Roaring Junior Press. One longer poem dealing with a lost at sea sailor who finds himself drawn to the song of a siren. I couldn’t be happier with how that one turned out.



In December, my next full-length collection, Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well will be published by Cajun Mutt Press. It has many nightmares contained within its pages. There are several characters that visit me in the throws of sleep. They remind me of John Berryman and his Dream Songs.

You can find information for my books along with more dates on my website for the tour with Tony Brewer as we add them, but here is our current trek:

July 10            Bluestocking Social – Evansville, Indiana
July 16            Tower Grove Park – St. Louis, Missouri
July 17            Barb’s Books – Belle, Missouri
July 18            KOPN FM – Columbia, Missouri
October 26      The Focal Point – St. Louis, Missouri

Website: www.timheerdink.com 
Facebook: @TimHeerdinkWriter
Twitter: @THeerdink 
Instagram: @heerdinktim
Patreon: patreon.com/timheerdink

midwestwritersguild.com 

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

Tim:

If I could rewrite the ending
would it make a difference,
or should I look back, thinking
of my love lost in remembrance?

from “Unthankful Givings” in The Human Remains

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Tim:

Matthew Graham and Marcus Wicker helped steer me toward a betterment of the craft while under their wing at University of Southern Indiana.

My wife always encouraged me being one of my first constant readers. I’ve added a number of people who read all my work when it’s published. There are a select few who get it all as it leaves my head.

There’d be no me without my mom, who passed away May 2020 from brain cancer. She gave me this ability. Losing her produced some of the poems found in three of my chapbooks from 2021. I have a new manuscript, Final Flight as the Fog Becomes Night, that is currently being shopped around for a publisher. May there be even more healing in 2022.

The last, but not least, great help in my continued writing are my children. I meant to publish my first book, what was supposed to be Last Lights of a Dying Sun, before my first daughter was born. That didn’t happen, and that novel is still in progress. It doesn’t look like the novel will be done for quite some time, but I do have some short stories in the works and another daughter on the way. All when it is meant to be.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Tim Heerdink

2 poems from Tim Heerdink from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 : “Tether” & “What’s Left Over From a Haunting”

3 poems by Tim Heerdink: “Algorithm for a Lost Thought” “Old Tricks” “Checkmate”

Poems by Tim Heerdink: Us Motherless Men & Maybe This Will Be the Last Time