Spotlight on the Poetry Question & Chris Margolin

If you’re a poet or writer, you need exposure.  Especially, if you’re an independent writer, or work or run a small press.  Luckily, for us, there is a website that has been expanding exponentially the last few years giving us more exposure to the best independent poets and writers out there today.   The Poetry Question provides the concept of asking “How will you Poetry today?”  The man behind the beginnings of the Poetry Question is Chris Margolin.

He shares a passion for visualizing the future of poetry and giving a voice to poets.  Whether it would be the unique interview in which you answer the poetry questions on influences, favorite books, authors, influences.  Detailed info on why these works or writers have deemed such an influence on a writer. The site has been excellent and expanding their team on reviewing Poetry Chapbooks and novels & novellas.  

Within the last year, Chris has worked hard on adding a small press to give another avenue for writers to put out chapbooks.    So, with that introduction, we shall ask a few questions to Chris Margolin of “the Poetry Question”   http://thepoetryquestion.com

Hi Chris, thanks for giving us at Fevers of the Mind the opportunity to learn more about The Poetry Question and the exciting future of the site.

Thank you for having me! I’m a fan of Fevers of the Mind, so this is an exciting opportunity for me. I’m honored.

  1.  First off Chris, when did you come up with the idea of the Poetry Question? The original concept?  When was the moment that hit you and said “Hey I need to help small press poets and self-published poets”?

I’ve written a lot about the foundation of The Poetry Question, but I appreciate that your question focuses on Small Press Poetry and Self-Published Poetry. The site went through so many different iterations. It was an educational site – I’ve taught for almost 20 years – in the early days. Then it was a music review site. Then it was a general book review site. Then I started going to The Portland Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. My first night there was like finding a new religion. My introduction couldn’t have been more epic: Clementine von Radics, Alex Dang, Brenna Twohey, and the legendary Andrea Gibson. I bought every book on the table that night. That was it. These were stapled together like the zines I used to buy in high school. They were beautiful. And they needed to be seen. There wasn’t much of a choice at that point. Voices needed to be heard, and I couldn’t find a website that focused solely on small press or self-published poetry. So, it seemed like the obvious choice and direction.

  •  I know that you have decided to put out a few chapbooks, how has that experience been like that for you? What about going into the Press business has been rewarding, and what has been more challenging?

This is one of the most rewarding, important, and scary accomplishments in my life. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve always just been on the review side of things. I had dreamt about putting out other people’s poetry, but never thought it made sense until last year. Our daily readership went up faster than I could have ever imagined, and it just felt right. Holding a submission period, and knowing that people – without the use of Submittable – were actually sending me their words was jaw-dropping. I never expected to get submissions. I had over 75 in a month. It was such a validation of what I’d been working toward, and so humbling to know that so many would trust us with their manuscripts. We are just a few weeks from the release date (Jan 15) for both Jennifer Roche and Van G. Garrett’s respective books, The Synonym Tables, and SCRAP. They have been so kind as I stumble through this process. Can’t wait to see what happens!          

  •  I’d like to know more about the Power of Poetry section of the site. What about this section really has been a huge help with especially younger writers to understand how to be an effective writer, and how you can work at your craft to expand even when it seems the writing world is against you?

Isn’t the writing world always against us? Look, the reality is that we a lot of us started as bedroom poets and writers. We wrote middle school novels and song lyrics and poetry and tried to either hide it from everyone or share it with the world. But those words meant everything to us. They were our therapy. Fortunately, it is still our therapy. But that looks so different for everyone, and I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted everyone to hear their stories. I don’t really know if there’s an “effective writer.” I think there is an effectiveness in everything we put down on paper. It might not resonate with everyone, but it may change someone’s life.

  •  This has been a challenging year for everyone, and I’m sure for you this hasn’t been an exception. During such a year of darkness, where have you found the small beams of light that has given you a creative uplift for your ideas with TPQ?

This is a softball question. I sign into my twitter account every day, and I get to read the works of hundreds of poets each week. I get to ask “How will you Poetry today” and hope that maybe that will remind someone to write or submit or edit or read or share or whatever they can do to spread the word of Small Press Poetry. I get to be the bullhorn for poets who might not have an outlet to share their work. That’s one hell of a beam of light.

  •  Please give us more info on how to reach your site, your social media, what one needs to do to submit to the Poetry Question for a review of their new book & more. Also, when do you expect your first chapbooks to be released, any hints on what to expect from these?

Everyone can find us at thepoetryquestion.com. If you’re interested in submitting a book for review, there is a link provided on the site. We don’t get through everything that comes our way, but we work hard to review all that we can. The first two chapbooks will be released on January 15th, 2021. Jennifer Roche’s The Synonym Tables tackles the changing of language over the last 75 years. With a deep focus on our current world issues, this one feels more poignant now more than ever. Van G. Garrett’s SCRAP takes you round by round through perseverance and the art of survival. He is a legend, and I am blown away that he was ever interested in submitting to TPQ.

  • Any shout outs you’d like to give to any poets, small press, co-workers with TPQ?

This is a tricky one for me as there are so many poets and presses I’d love to shout out. Here are a few poets to keep in your sights: Chris Butler, Taylor Byas, Beth Gordon, Danielle Rose, and Jason Crawford are all beyond inspiring right now.

Chris Margolin is the founder and EiC of The Poetry Question, the only site in the world to focus solely on small press and self-published poetry reviews. Beyond his work in poetry he has taught high school and middle school English for almost 20 years. He lives in Vancouver,Washington with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and seven chickens

Books to Read in 2021: Spectrum of Flight by David Hanlon

This review was in the Anthology Fevers of the Mind Presents the Poets of 2020 available on Amazon in Deluxe Edition, Split Editions Vol 1 & 2, and on Kindle.

When opening up David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” you immediately notice David’s very diverse, quaint, very knowledgable on poetry style and themes. Every word, every sentence, line, and stanzas are thought out.  Every word is read to you by the writer’s voice.  You feel trapped for awhile in the soul of the writer. What he felt, what he has had to persevere through, the depression, the loneliness, the questions, to truly begin to feel a whole self.  You are on a long walk listening to the pouring rain in a cool Autumn month, You can do nothing but think.  This is the book.  All of those cold rain walks on your own, what does the thunder mean for me?  Is this the same thunder heard by others? Is it even raining where they are?  The distancing of others that miscast you. Severs you into their ideal.  Why doesn’t it rain on them?  Why are they exempt? And why can’t they see me?  “A Taste of Showmanship” reflecting toxic masculinity that overcomes, a societal stamp.  To wash away that ink.   The imagery of poems such as “Dream in Which My Teeth Rot and Fall Out” gives you a ride in the circles and to obtain the answers within the spin.  As like in dreams we sometimes find the answer to our being, our true self, the hope to be whole, to change, and conquer the storm. David Hanlon’s “Spectrum of Flight” is brilliant both in style, imagery, and a must read for someone in search of themself.

David Hanlon is a welsh poet living in Cardiff. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 magazines, including Rust & Moth, Icefloe Press & Mineral Lit Mag. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press.

Books to Read in 2021: On Becoming(Aesthetic Evolution of the Rising Ancestor) by Hokis

Full title: OnBecoming (Aesthetic Evolution of the Rising Ancestor)

A poetic memoir by Hokis. 

Imagine being a child (a young girl) adopted, unsure about yourself

Because you don’t have all the answers.   Where did my ancestors come from?

Why do I react the way I do?  Where does my perseverance come from to get through? When traumatic adversities come into play as a teenager into womanhood, where do I turn to?

This collection of personal poetry tells the reader through the wonders of imagery on how realizations, finding the reasons, fighting the stresses, and knowing when to persevere & not give in when it is easiest to do so.  

Hokis’ OnBecoming is a wonderful read of linkable poems that connects thematically the traumas (political, familial, toxic masculinity & sexual violence) and turns to feminism & ancestral guidance to help overcome these detours in life.   You will feel shattered with her as you turn through the pages, but in the end you become whole.  Ultimately to feel resilient to the monsters we all face daily.

A Music Spotlight: An Interview with musician Austin Lucas (from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020)

A Music Spotlight: An Interview with Austin Lucas

Austin Lucas has a new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” which many have in their year-end best of 2020 award nominees.

 (Cornelius Chapel Records)

First off Thanks Austin for granting an interview with us at Fevers of the Mind Press for the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest: The Poets of 2020.

Austin: Thanks so much for including me!

  1. It has been over a year since the last issue.  It is weird, it seems like something might have happened to try to jog away from the creativity into a slow depression month after month as this has continued.   The year 2020 has been some work, and it has taken nearly a year for me to fully get my creative fuses (mostly out of the anger of this year) to feel like there has to be another edition!  There are many voices out there that have been writing through the year, and their voices all need to be heard. 

With that, how have you kept your creativity with writing songs & putting out a new album? Was it any different going into the studio and recording the new album in the wake of the pandemic.

Austin:  I have found myself baffled by the disconnect from reality among my fellow americans, along with their seemingly limitless capacity to entirely abandon reason.  As for inspiration and the process of staying active in song writing, it seems that I was able to have even more time to exercise my capacity for creation with so much time off the road.

  • I was a huge fan of Immortal Americans & Shallow Inland Sea after hearing your appearances on the comedy podcast Improv4Humans with Matt Besser.  Even my 8-year-old daughter became a fan of “Immortal Americans” and I love that song and Shallow Inland Sea) How is Matt Besser and the Improv4Humans experience?

Austin: I love Matt and all the I4H crew so it’s always so cool when I get to collaborate with them and also when I hear that someone discovered me through that medium.

  • I’ve been listening to the new single “Drive” on repeat listens, and watching the interesting Pandemic feel of the video on Youtube.   Where was it filmed?

Austin: Well it was shot in Berlin during the pandemic, so what you were seeing is life as it is currently lived. That video was a phenomenal experience because I was able to cast a bunch of my favorite people who I honestly don’t get to see often enough.

  • How are you maintaining focus and coming up with new creative endeavors without the touring and the availability of concerts?  Tell us a little about the Save the Stage movement also.

Austin: As I mentioned before, I seem to have almost boundless creative energy when so much of my time isn’t spent traveling and feeling worn down by life on the road. Sometimes I get incredibly tired still, due to my intense training and coaching schedule with Muay Thai but even that doesn’t distract me and leave me feeling so depleted as constant travel.

  • When I heard your interviews regarding your songs in the past, I was excited to learn that you grew up in the Bloomington, Indiana area.  I grew up in Western Kentucky and lived in Evansville for nearly 20 years.  I’ve spent many nights visiting Bloomington.  Always good shows up there.  What was it like growing up in the Midwest?  What about the Midwest do you love, and what part of it makes you shake your head?

Austin: I don’t know, there are so many things I both love and hate about the Midwest but honestly, I don’t find much more wrong with the Midwest than I do with any other part of the USA. There’s good and bad and the bad things are found in literally every corner of the United States. I do love how direct people are in the Midwest vs. other parts of the US though. We’re polite but we won’t bend over backwards and bullshit you if we think you suck.

  • I know you have many roots in punk music and for most of your career, you have spun punk ideologies into an Americana/rock-folk carving.  So, who were your heroes musically, and inevitably with writing song lyrics that maybe have helped you weave the two musical styles into your niche?

Austin: His Hero Is Gone, Discharge, X, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Jason Molina is probably my greatest lyrical influence but there’s a lot in my repertoire that’s derived from my upbringing in the Bluegrass and folk lineage.

  • What is your process when you write a song?  How long does it usually take to come up with a full song to your liking, music and all?

Austin: It really depends, I’m a notoriously furious and extensive self editor so it can take anywhere from hours to years for me to write a song. I generally begin with a riff and build words and melody around the first riff that I write and go for there.

  • I’d like to congratulate you on your nomination in the category for  Americana Song of the Year in the upcoming AMA-UK Awards in 2021.   How do you handle the recognition that you deserve for your work? 

Austin: Thanks so much, I honestly just smile and feel grateful. I’ve been in this songwriting game for a very long time and have yet to receive many accolades. Which means that while I appreciate it all the more as a result, I also have a hard time imagining that it will be a regular occurrence. At the moment I’m just gonna soak it up and be grateful that some folks cared enough to nominate me for an award in the first place.

  • You’ve worked with many great artists on albums such as Lydia Loveless & John Moreland.  Is there a musician out there that you would love to work with, or came close to working with that once (hopefully) someday when COVID is gone that you’d feel like this could be the ultimate collaboration?

Austin: I’d honestly love to work with several artists but the dream for me would be to just sing duets with Dolly and Emmylou or Gillian Welch. My other biggest dreams are to make albums with Baroness and Neurosis and also to make an album with Blitzen Trapper would be an absolute dream.

  1. Out of the many, many songs you’ve written.  Which do you feel the most complete lyrically let’s say, or just satisfied with the outcome.  Do you ever feel like hey, where did these words come to me from?  I think lyrically Monroe City Nights resonates with me so well.  I can feel the sadness of the Midwest & the vulnerability to adapt and so everything just seems stagnant (in the solitude of okay, I guess this is how my life has to be?)

Austin: To my mind, that song is absolutely one of my crowing masterpieces in a lot of ways. I’m honestly very proud of my body of work overall but my last 2 albums have probably had the most of what I’d consider “me” in them.

  1. Tell me about the new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” released this Fall.  What about this album is getting the buzz of Austin Lucas out there in the Americana & Indie scene.  What about this album, do you feel is different from your other albums? 

Austin: I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s the fact that I managed to write about what everyone was going through in the world right now and actually release it while we were still experiencing it as a global community.

  1. Finally, the dumb question.  Let’s say some bozo with some weapon comes up to you.  Let’s say He’s like I’ve got 2 albums that you have to re-make, and you have to choose one to cover completely (no matter what it does for your career) and hey maybe you can change the dynamic of people’s minds about the albums, Do you cover Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True” album or Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes”?

Austin: I’d personally rather cover Go Go’s “Beauty and the Beat but I think I’d go with the Debbie Gibson album, if those were my only two options.

  1. No really, we’ve seen like full album covers by artists like Beck, the Bird, and the Bee, and ummm…yeah Ryan Adams do such, if you ever went that route with an album what would you consider an awesome honorable album to cover?

Austin: Oh, haha, I guess I already answered that question but let me say two things. 1. Ryan Adams is a creep and 2. I’d also really love to cover the entirety of the Cure “Pornography” or “Darklands” by Jesus and Mary Chain.

  1. Thank you, Austin for spending a little bit of your time with Fevers of the Mind, and much success on the new album & good luck with the award nomination.

Austin: Thank you so much for sitting down and asking me these questions.

Bio Courtesy of Austin Lucas.com

Austin Lucas is a punk journeyman, activist and songwriter from Bloomington, Indiana. Consumed by an overdeveloped sense of wanderlust as a young person, Austin spent his formative years in the driver’s seat of various beat-up Ford Econolines. Burning through countless miles and living the world over, he’s made his home everywhere from the American West Coast to the Czech Republic.

As a young person, Austin worshipped a diverse mixture of Classic Rock, Country, Punk, Psychedelic Folk and Mountain Music, and has made a career by successfully fusing these disparate influences into something uniquely his own. Emerging as a prominent and revered talent among his fans and peers, Austin has stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most recognizable icons of Folk, Punk, Indie, Country and Americana, all the while uplifting the traditions of Roots Music and holding true to the attitude and ethics of political DIY Punk and Indie music as the lifeblood that runs through his veins.

Releasing albums since 2006, Austin Lucas has been a fixture in the worlds of Alternative Country and Folk Punk for nearly two decades, having sang alongside and toured with everyone from Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Ray Price, Brent Cobb, Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Dawes, Langhorne Slim, Joe Pug, John Moreland, Lucero and many others. To hear Austin Lucas or see him live is to discover the type of well-kept secret that can only stay that way for so long.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown Austin Lucas has sheltered in place in Mainz, Germany. Although growing homesick far away from his home and family in Indiana, he has successfully used this extra time and inspired energy to prove that it’s impossible to keep a good troubadour down, writing and recording songs for his forthcoming album, “Alive In The Hot Zone!”.