A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Paula Puolakka

with Paula Puolakka

Q1: When did you start writing? Your biggest influences?

Paula: I typed my first letter when I was six. My mother threw the paper away since the lines “didn’t make any sense.” The letter was for my grandmother.

As a kid and a teen, I kept a diary, but my first “professional rants” were reader’s opinions. I was 12 when I started this type of correspondence. A movie analysis in Disney’s Uncle Scrooge magazine was the first tiny – but serious – publication of mine.

My biggest influences: Mr. Wittgenstein and Mr. Kaczynski.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?


I didn’t want to be an author! I was forced to become a writer and a poet because new technological devices were introduced to the field of Horticulture in 2006 and 2007. The new methods were against my values, so I decided to pursue another career. In 2008, in Finland, it was still possible to create a handwritten paper or a manuscript and send it forward via snail mail. I applied to study History of Science and Ideas, and I got the highest exam-based scores in my group. It took me only four years to earn my Master’s status. However, when I graduated and was ready to work as a writer, the work field had experienced a pivotal change: most of the Finnish papers had been turned into e-papers. Everything was about computers and the internet. Many long-term journalists were laid off. It was impossible for a newcomer to find a steady job in Finland!

However, even though I was trapped – again – and technology was an issue for me, I decided to try and find remote writing gigs. I was instantly welcomed by the Jewish Community, and I wrote a few freelance articles for their magazine. Then, I was given a publishing deal by MTP in the UK. I made a year-long deal with them, and I wrote three short novels. I also made a deal with a Finnish publisher, Mediapinta, and they published two books of my Beat poetry to celebrate Finland’s 100 years of independence. I also started receiving lightweight writing prizes from the USA, Finland, and Israel. The first hardcore honorable mention I received was from an essay contest held by The Finnish Reserve Officers’ Federation.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?

Paula: My Lord.

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Paula: I was born in Oulu (the better side of Tuira,) but I spent my whole childhood in Sipoo and Helsinki. I was a teenager when my mother decided that our family should move to Oulu. I was forced to leave everything behind. My years in Oulu were full of pain, sadness, and hopeless situations.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Paula: The academic article I wrote for the science and university magazine Hybris (Tampere University, Finland) in 2020. Also, I love the short story I submitted to the writing contest held by Arts Quarter Books (UK) in 2019. The title was “The Texas Yippie.” It didn’t win the competition, but the chief editor was so impressed that he handpicked the story to be a part of the competition anthology, “Words Catch Fire.”

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Paula: I listen to music, and I sleep.

Q7: What is a favorite line from a writing of yours or others?

Paula: John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)

Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy?

Paula: I enjoy listening to the German and British military marches, Beethoven, Mozart, Roger Miller, Dave Tarras’ klezmer music, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Steven Curtis Chapman, John Frusciante/Trickfinger, The Poppy Family, Paul McCartney/the Wings, Justin Bieber, Jerry Lee Lewis, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Beastie Boys, Alan Jackson, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Black Light Burns, Adam Sandler, the old Finnish, British and American pop sensations (Kristian, etc.,) the tunes from the American musicals, old tv shows, and movies, and so on.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Paula: You will understand the irony when you check out the answer to Q4: I’m the representative of the City of Oulu. I will handle the task until early 2022 (or that’s what they told me!) To me, it’s a face-to-face promo and a Team Ted thingy, but I’m also on Instagram. (Another tech trap…) I’m telling people random stories about Oulu but also sharing my experiences in Helsinki. What happens after this adventure is over? I don’t know. I have sent my poems, stories, and articles to various places. I’m waiting for the results, but I’m also in search of new challenges and adventures.

Bio: Paula Puolakka (1982) is a Beat poet, writer, and MA (History of Science and Ideas.) In 2017, CAIN, The Garden of Eden, and ADAM were published by Michael Terence Publishing (UK.) In 2017, Näkymättömän naisen isku was published by Mediapinta (Tampere, Finland.) In 2018, TESTAMENTTI: joutsenlaulu turhuuden turuilta was published. Puolakka has landed first and second in various writing competitions and challenges. She has also been given honorable mentions. In late 2021 and early 2022, Puolakka is the representative of the City of Oulu.

To read and learn more:

Profile on Spillwords Press: https://spillwords.com/author/paulapuolakka/

Instagram: @pienlahettilas.paula

Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with David Dephy from the Poetry Orchestra

with David Dephy:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

David: I started writing poetry and prose at the age of 21, I earned my undergraduate degree MFA from the Faculty of Architecture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Georgia, I was making a Video Art as well, but I started writing in English, after 8 months of my arrival in the US, in 2017. Thanks to AFI (Artistic Freedom Initiative in New York City) they helped me with my documents and with my case.

In all honesty I was influenced by the people like Jack London, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, but my first love always was Edgar Allan Poe, with these two gentlemen and seers of vision: William Blake and Kahlil Gibran.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

David: Oh, I like reading the works of Wayne Miller, Stephen Frech, Joshua Corwin, Aaron Fisher, Gloria Monaghan, Luise Gluke, but I am on my way, I have my style, my voice, and I cannot say who is my biggest influence today, everyone and no one at the same time. Everything is open widely and wildly today, writing poetry is spiritual adventure with joy, for me.

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

David: I was born and grown up in country of Georgia, I am a trilingual poet, I believe that my homeland is where my heart is and this understanding of space and time and ruts and tradition is deeper than any ideas of identity.

I feel that Western civilization and Eastern civilization are the one joint spiritual imprint on the body of humanity itself. Yes, I travel a lot in Europe and in the USA, and I found my home here in America. I am absolutely not rhyming with the political situation in Georgia, today. I have deep sense of responsibility.

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

David: Killing question, to be honest, deadly question for any poet. My latest work of course! Look, I write because I like it and have a story to tell. I like the process and results. I have a message of hope and comfort. I have an idea.

I think that a human being gets strength from the truth and transfers that strength to others and fills them with comfort and allows them to carry on and hold on during everyday struggles. This truth for me is poetry and it has no boundaries. I feel silence in me, first and when I feel it, I know in that very second, that time is near, something is going on. I called this process architecture of feelings, sounds and visions.

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

David: I painted a portrait once, back in 80’s when I was 21 yo and I wrote on it “let me tell you a story why I painted you so beautifully” and I realized that I am a poet, I have a story to tell, and started writing. I have heard a call. I followed my own self.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

David: I do not know what is this. I am working and relaxing at the same time, work is so relaxing and relax is work, axis of meditative observation.

I am an author of Eastern Star full-length poetry book written directly in English language and published by Adelaide Book in New York City in October 2020, also, 15 collections of poetry, written in Georgian language, 8 novels and three audio albums of poetry with orchestra and electronic bands.

Eastern Star: Poems by David Dephy

As a writer I realize that much is demanded from me, but not much is forgiven to me… That if I figure it out by what means I want to distinguish myself, then I will understand who and what I am in reality… And, that if in our inner world and in this multi-language dictionary of mankind survive the following words such as Freedom, Responsibility, Comfort, then the world will also survive. For me this is the mission of literature and of mine as a poet’s and novelist’s justification for existence.

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

David: My second full-length book of poetry Lilac Shadow of a Tree is forthcoming by MadHat Press this year in September 2021.

MadHat Press Logo (c)

In this particular and challenging time I am working as a caregiver with the brilliant man Vincent Petrolino who is 104 years old, I am so lucky because this experience of caregiving, especially with the 104 yo old man is a real deal, I mean a real – real deal for any writer in the galaxy, because you are working with the man who really lived and still lives through the history of the USA and saw and felt everything in his life, and btw this is very spiritual job as well – caregiving in general, you are not only just a helper, but a comfort-giver and guardian, you are making people’s life as a joy and you are learning a lot about a human being, that’s what I am talking about, you are experiencing a real life – not sitting in some fancy bar and crying about life. Gotcha?

And I am making Poetry Orchestra project, this is the video/sound art global poetry project with the musicians and artists such as Saphileaum, Irakli Gabriel and Andrea Meparishvili and the poets across the United States of America, who I admire. I am sure this form of expression is the future of poetry. (See the link down below)


Q8: One of your favorite lines from a poem of yours?

David: I have not favorite lines from my or others’ work, if verse is good, it is good as a whole with every word and every line and every smell, and color and every nerve in it, as a whole universe all around and inside us.

I have my favorite poems, books, novels, albums, songs, musicians and architectures, and even slogans. I am a man of word and I feel that poetry is such a sacrifice, it is tangible. It is such an enormous concept, that it cannot be only my personal matter.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

David: Father, Georgian folk songs, American blues, American literature, movies of Peter Greenaway and Billy Wilder and these three absolutely masterpiece rock-albums: Jesus Christ Superstar, Abbey Road and The Dark Side of the Moon.

Ben Okri © 2010 Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center

Wolfpack Contributor: David Dephy