A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Karol Nielsen

with Karol Nielsen:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Karol: I started writing my first memoir—about my marriage to an Israeli man and the trauma of the Gulf War—in the 1990s. I kept a journal to process intense feelings and poems came out of that. My first influences were Shakespeare and Hemingway.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Karol: Billy Collins’ short, humorous poetry has had a big impact on me. I initially wrote long, anguished poems, but as my work evolved I began to write shorter, lighter poems.

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

Karol: I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs and I dreamed of big adventure. Then I traveled through Europe, South America, Australia, Israel, and Vietnam. I wrote memoirs about living through Scud missile attacks in Israel and traveling to Vietnam with my father, a Vietnam War veteran.

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

Karol: My first memoir, Black Elephants, was a challenge to write and publish, but once it was out it was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction.

from Karolnielsen.com

https://amzn.to/3hAVmaV

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

Karol: In the tenth grade, my English teacher had us keep a journal. We were reading Emerson and I wrote in my journal that I wanted to become a writer like him.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Karol: I used to do marathons and triathlons, including the Ironman race, but now I find inspiration in taking long walks.

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

Karol: I have a poetry chapbook coming out next year about random, often humorous encounters in New York City before the pandemic and my small life in quarantine.

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

Karol: I have a long poem about a teenager who was stabbed in a gang attack in the Bronx. I covered the story as a stringer for The New York Times, which didn’t publish the story because he survived. The last line of the poem goes: “And he lived.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Karol: I took a handful of creative writing courses with Adam Sexton at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in the 1990s. I learned the craft of writing from him and now I use that knowledge in my lectures as a creative nonfiction and memoir writing instructor with New York Writers Workshop.

finishinglinepress.com

https://amzn.to/3r4fyot

https://karolnielsen.com

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Tony Brewer

with Tony Brewer:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Tony: I drew a lot when I was very young. My mom is a visual artist and encouraged me. When I learned to read, I started doing lettering and titles for the drawings, then captions. The captions became paragraphs and I just kept making more paragraphs. I wrote my first stage play in 3rd grade – an Empire Strikes Back ripoff – and I was a short story writer in 6th grade and junior high. My first major influence was Ray Bradbury and authors like Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. McGuin, Tolkien, Clive Barker, Thomas Harris. My favorite album as a kid was Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. I have learned it was produced by the Disney sound effects department, so that makes sense considering I got into foley later on. I studied film and writing in college, at Bard and IU, and a girlfriend gave me books of Bukowski and Dylan albums – Love Is a Dog from Hell and Bringing It All Back Home were favorites – so around then I gravitated toward poetry. Experimental filmmaker Maya Deren wrote about the similarities of film and poetry and that really resonated with me, how poetry bends time and has the jump-cut and juxtaposition/montage quality of film editing. William S. Burroughs and Ginsberg were early poetry and artistic influences. Reading Beowulf in 8th grade was a major motivator.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Tony: Most recently CA Conrad and I’m reading a lot of Basho. Also Jack Gilbert, W.S. Merwin, James Tate, Louise Gluck, da levy, Neruda. People I actually know: Steve Henn, Tim Heerdink, Matt Hart, Hiromi Yoshida. I think William S. Burroughs is still a big influence, partly his writing and his voice – and he also is a Midwesterner – but mainly his process-based experiments like cut-ups and audio editing and shotgun paintings. There is intention in all that but he also liked to just set things up and see what happens. I have a background in improv theatre, so chance and free association have become central to all my projects. I like working across disciplines.

Entretiens avec William Burroughs | Daniel Odier, William S. Burroughs |  First Printing

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

Tony: I grew up in Ladoga IN, a tiny farm town of about 1000 people. I’ve traveled a bunch and lived in NY my freshman year of college, but I had a Ray Bradbury childhood: sheltered and somewhat locked in the past, even when I was a kid, but I had freedom to roam. I’m not resentful of that shelter. It still feels very small and trapped in amber whenever I visit. I’ve written about my family dynamics, which are interesting to me, and I have performed in many states and Canada. It’s important to maintain a sense of belonging to where I am originally from but I don’t want to just write downhome stuff – barn poems, I call them – but also not come off like I am “from the internet.” I don’t want to write about things that I have only read or heard about but haven’t experienced myself. I mean up to a point, but I remember hearing at a workshop “I want to know what you think, not what the New York Times thinks.” I like the stories you have to dig down to find. I think that’s what poetry “covers”: not simply the zeitgeist but what squishes out when the hammer of media attention falls. The thing that’s taken me furthest from home – in terms of physical distance but also getting “outside myself” – is performing live sound effects because it’s not words at all. It’s performative and requires intense listening and observing. Director David Ossman has said I am painting with sound – I really like that. I’ve worked coast to coast and that’s been a broadening experience, both because traveling does that but also any kind of production work, I pick up ways to make my own productions better: how to take care of people, how to get good performances out of people. I try to produce readings and events I would want to attend. I co-founded the first poetry slam in Indiana in 2001, mainly because it was a different way of hosting a poetry reading. That’s when I started traveling to do readings. I was also a roller derby announcer for 8 years and I traveled with the team to announce for them at away bouts. In fact that’s how I got to do a reading in Canada: I stayed an extra day and read in Toronto. Trips that still stand out and that generated a lot of writing: Devils Tower WY, Iceland, New Orleans, Toronto, Shiprock NM, Whidbey Island WA. I finished my book Hot Type Cold Read in a hotel room while I was working a live sound effects gig in Fort Lauderdale. I do some of my best work in one field while I’m in the thick of it in another.

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

Tony:

Meaningful to me, probably my 2010 chapbook Little Glove in a Big Hand. My cousin Jeffrey died in a farming accident when he and I were both 4 years old, and it tore our families apart. I was so young I was barely aware of it and no one really explained to me what happened to him. He was just gone. I’d been writing about that for probably 25 years but didn’t like any of it – I was either too close to the material or not close enough. Then the memories started coming back, more vivid than before, and I started having dreams about it and I filled a notebook with poems and workshopped them with the Reservoir Dogwoods and got them published all in about 8 months. I was doing some therapy at the time, really working on myself, so that’s likely why some dormant things resurfaced with more clarity. I really figured some things out in that project.

Meaningful to other people, probably the poem I wrote in 2004 “Cicada Blues Chorus 10 & 17.” I wrote it as a team piece for poetry slams the last time the 17-year cicadas came through. It continues to be my most endearing poem and I never get tired of doing it. I also have written a ton of meaningful poetry on demand, for total strangers as well as close friends who have trusted me enough to tell me intimate details about their lives, sometimes out on the street in the middle of a festival. A woman once asked if I knew anything about bipolar disorder (I do) and could I write a poem about her son? Another person was in recovery and asked me to write about it – and I asked questions like recovery from what? How long have you been clean? I’m not confrontational about it but this collaborative thing opens up between us and I feel compelled to push for details. I think the patrons feel compelled to tell me – after all they asked for it. I have written elegies on demand too for a haunted cemetery tour, and for those I always ask things like “So what kind of life did you lead?” or “Do you have any regrets?” and sometimes they laugh it off and sometimes they get very serious, more serious than they were probably imagining their night was going to be.

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

Tony: Learning how to parse any poetry, especially by reading Ginsberg’s big red book of collected poems 1947-1980. It took several years to work through because I really dug down into the forms and researched his life a bit to figure out what he was saying. Read most of it aloud. Suddenly the veil lifted and I could see with new eyes. Before that, some poetry was just unreachable, or maybe I didn’t work at it enough. There are poems I don’t like or poets I like more than others, but everything is available to me now. I think Poetry is enormous and I want to get at it. I’m not sure I ever wanted to be an artist, or a poet, but I’ve always done some writing and some music and some production work, making books or plays or movies. I just like doing the work: making poems, making live sound effects, making events. There is a certain amount of networking required and I don’t always feel like that’s conducive to getting underneath things enough to make poems, so that tension – the openness and the aloofness – fuels a lot of what I do.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Tony:

“Never hurry, never rest” -Nietzsche

I try to get into some woods near running water whenever possible.

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

Tony:

I just put out a new chapbook with Alien Buddha Press: The History of Projectiles. I was invited by Ryder Magazine to do a writeup on it here: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/392109039/10/

Why buy from Amazon when you can buy directly from me? https://tonybrewer71.blogspot.com/

Seriously, hit me up and I’ll kick in something special and unique.

I’m doing some readings with Tim Heerdink in July:

7/10 Bluestocking Social Bookstore in Evansville IN: https://www.facebook.com/events/204093574943742

7/16 Poetry in the Park in St. Louis: https://www.facebook.com/events/185279830160680

7/17 Barb’s Books in Belle MO: https://www.facebook.com/events/498526064727221

7/18 TBA but likely we’ll be live on KOPN out of Columbia MO https://www.kopn.org/

7/29 I’m doing a formal book launch with guest readers in Bloomington in the courtyard at the Runcible Spoon Cafe & Restaurant.

Aug 10 and 24 Poetry on Demand at A Fair for the Arts in Switchyard Park in Bloomington

Sep 4-5 Labor Day weekend Poetry on Demand at the 4th Street Arts Festival in Bloomington

I just wrapped co-producing the 9th annual HEAR Now Audio Fiction & Arts Festival (virtual this year) June 24-27 https://www.natf.org/, where I also taught live sound effects, did some voice acting, and performed poetry live with the ensemble Urban Deer: http://urban-deer.com/

I also co-produce a spoken word series (currently also virtual) with live music for the Writers Guild at Bloomington on the first Wed of every month: https://writersguildbloomington.com/

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

Tony:

“May you always be prepared for what you want. Amen.” from “Toast”
“The waiting period for revenge / is a sentence” from “Why we will never get over this”

Q9: What has helped you most with writing?

Tony:

On the last day of Richard Cecil’s poetry workshop when I was a junior at IU, I asked “How do I keep doing this?” meaning making poems as some sort vocation outside of a college classroom. I wasn’t sure how serious I was about writing as a profession. He said there were 2 ways: get into an MFA program but you’ll be teaching and doing other things as much as or more than writing – although there is a supportive network there and you’ll get published and have books and all that. That was his world. I said OK what’s the other? He said just write and send your stuff out. Get a job that doesn’t destroy your mind and your willingness to keep submitting work, and eventually you’ll get things out there. I think I went that route, with an assist from audio theatre and poetry slams, which weren’t widely known at that point but I hosted a slam for 10 years and found my network that way. Many of my influences are “working poets” who have a job outside the field: William Carlos Williams, Lee Young-Li, slam poets who were active and touring before Poetry Slam incorporated. I liked that Richard didn’t say “and so you should take THIS path.” He just told me what was available.

Joseph Kerschbaum and I have workshopped each other a bunch. He co-founded that slam with me and we’ve done book tours together. The Reservoir Dogwoods poetry performance group I’m in – Jason Ammerman in Indy, Matthew Jackson in Columbus (IN), and me in Bloomington – has taught me a lot about collaboration and writing poems together. Same with all the poetry on demand. I have written a lot of poems I would not have thought to write except someone asked for it, and that compulsory aspect has stretched my boundaries. POD has helped me break out of writing slumps and keep my mind open to new forms. It’s another form of connectedness.

Poets Tom Hastings and Eric Rensberger have been mentors. Eric once commented after an open mic I was hosting: “More chips with the salsa please,” and that has stuck with me. Spice is nice but your need a sturdy delivery system. Tom has said: “You’re always working on a manuscript,” I think meaning you are always editing and collecting material for the next project, whatever it ends up being. I am definitely doing that all the time.

Poetry by Tony Brewer : “You and I are Human Beings” “the Seashell & the Clergyman”

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Sarah Marquez

with Sarah Marquez:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Sarah: I started writing in college while working on my four-year degree in English Language and Literature. My first influences were, of course, books! Fiction novels, historical fantasy novels, mystery novels and short stories. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood and held a wish to create something of my own someday, out of words that meant everything to me, to connect with kindred spirits. So, I spent a few years dabbling in fiction, (after I fell in love with the Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier), but found that it wasn’t for me. This was so disappointing at the time. And then I encountered poetry in a creative writing class at Southern New Hampshire University. I remember having a big dislike for poetry during my high school days. But, being reintroduced to it in college changed that. My first influence to writing poetry was Aimee Nezhukumatathil. I stumbled on her poem, Naming the Heartbeats, and something just clicked. I had never connected with a piece of writing so strongly before. And I recall being upset that no one had ever showed me this kind of poetry, that was full and welcoming. I had a strong desire to try writing something like it, weaving words, images, sounds, and I did. At the end of that class, I was encouraged by my instructor to keep writing in the poetry genre, and that suited me. I signed up for a few more workshops the following term and began an ongoing journey to discover my voice.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Sarah: My biggest influence today is the plethora of poets I’ve encountered along the way: Maggie Smith, Leah Umansky, Ada Limón, Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Marie Howe, Carolyn Forché, Elizabeth Bishop, Brenda Hillman, Ocean Vuong, Laura Cronk, Sally Wen Mao, Leila Chatti, Tara Skurtu, Christina Thatcher, Ankh Spice. I could go on and on. There are so many, and more I have yet to discover! I consider these wonderful people mentors, though I have never met any of them.

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

Sarah: I grew up and reside in Southern California. Los Angeles, to be specific. So, yeah, I’m a city girl. And it’s influenced my writing in the sense that being surrounded by so much hustle and bustle has made me long for less, a more simple and serene environment. As such, my poems reference the nature I can see and that I wish I could see more of. My dream right now, closely related to writing, is to travel and eventually settle somewhere open and green, where life moves at a slower pace. Where I can daydream in the middle of the day without having to listen to the constant flow of traffic outside my window and focus on bird chatter, where June at night is warm and anticipating something, rather than unbearably hot and accompanied by the sudden boom of fireworks going off.

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

Sarah: Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the most meaningful work I’ve done creatively is connect with other poets by volunteering to read submissions at small journals. I spent a year or so as a member of staff at both The Winnow Magazine and Random Sample Review. I am no longer reading now, but at the time it was rewarding and felt right. Often, I wish being a professional submission reader was a creative career I could pursue.

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

Sarah: Yes! I remember it well too. It was near the end of my second writing workshop at SNHU. In the comments on my final portfolio, my instructor noted that some of my poems were ready for publication. That thought, his belief in my words, made me realize how much I really wanted to be a poet. And by that, I mean not only in my head. I wanted to go through the whole process of submitting work for peer review. It’s scary at first, and always challenging, but worth it when a poem finds a forever home and readers to love it well.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Sarah: Reading. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I read more fiction than poetry these days. Well, not more, but it’s what I gravitate toward when I want to relax because I am surrounded by poetry all the time (others and mine). I just finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It was such an incredible book! Rich and full of heart. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of reading something new and unfamiliar.

Right now, I am listening to ASMR on YouTube. I’m not sure if that’s an activity, but it’s something I do to unwind. I don’t know anyone in the writing community that insists on having an ASMR routine, but mine is strict. After working all morning, in the afternoon, I’ll sit on the couch and put a video on and within minutes every muscle in my body will relax and the thoughts in my mind drift away. Then, at night before bed, to prepare myself for uninterrupted sleep. It really works!

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

Sarah:

Well, I haven’t spoken much about it, but I do have a chapbook MS in progress at Potter’s Grove Press. And right now, I am working with my editor to polish it. It’s a small collection of poems I wrote prior to the pandemic, in early 2019. Sometimes, I’m not sure it’s right to be working on something from back then, as so much has changed–my writing style and voice included. Still, I’m proud the collection made it this far. Proud, I started something and finished it. I will have more information about it once everything gets settled BTS. And I will likely need help promoting it, as I’m inexperienced in marketing books. (I could use any and all advice). Meanwhile, I am working on a second chapbook MS that is giving me all sorts of problems and will eventually need a forever home. So, I don’t have time for anything else, though I wish I did.

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

Sarah: This question made me pause for a minute. I’d like to share a line from an unpublished work. It’s not my favorite of everything I’ve written, but it holds great meaning right now. “I tasted me, a new perspective–I am free to love and let someone else love this body, this porcelain verse, this guilt passing away.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Sarah: Besides for the wonderful people at journals and mags, and readers, who promote my work, that would have to be my writing tribe: “Beyond LU.” It’s a small, intimate and perfect group for three students who are in Lindenwood University’s creative writing program. I’m not sure if my writer friends would be comfortable with me mentioning their names here, so I won’t. But they are amazing, and I owe them so much for being my first readers, looking over my work and giving me feedback. And for simply being there and excited to discuss poetry, writing, and life. That’s all-in-one, really. I don’t think any of us can separate one from the other at this point.

Links:

Love Poem #2 by Sarah Marquez in Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen

Twitter: Sarahmarissa338

https://www.kissingdynamitepoetry.com/sarah-marquez-heres-a-lie.html

https://headlinepoetryandpress.com/2020/06/03/rx-poetry-when-we-meet-unexpectedly-by-sarah-marquez/

https://www.theshorepoetry.org/sarah-marquez-self-measurements

https://thehellebore.com/tag/sarah-marquez/

https://amethystmagazine.org/2019/08/09/where-daddy-went-thereafter-a-poem-by-sarah-marquez/

https://www.theshorepoetry.org/sarah-marquez-shopping-on-ventura

https://www.vampcatmag.com/post/boogieman-sarah-marquez

https://dreamnoir.art/2019/12/18/shadow-as-time-swallower-by-sarah-marquez/

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Marie Little

with Marie Little:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Marie: I started writing poetry when I was about 11 and realised that I was quite good at it when I was accused of plagiarism! The poem was called The Dancer in the Night. In high school I was influenced by Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney. My very first influences, though, were the poems Mum used to recite to me from memory at bedtime – Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt and Amy Elizabeth Ermyntrude Annie by Queenie Scott-Hopper, among others.

Q2: Who are some of your biggest influences today?

Marie: I keep going back to the poems of the late Andrew Waterhouse.

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

Marie: I grew up in rural Northumberland and spent a lot of time outdoors in our garden, or in the fields. Lots of my current poetry is influenced in some way by those memories. In my twenties I moved to London while in the middle of a Creative Writing MA; my writing improved by way of added grit, colour and experience!

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

Marie: I feel it is too early to say. I am only just finding my feet creatively again after so long.

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

Marie: I remember answering the What do you want to do when you grow up? question with I want to be a poet, when I was still at Primary School. I am only just beginning to think that this might be an option!

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Marie: I love to walk in the fields and lanes near to where I live – sometimes with my family, sometimes alone in the morning.

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

Marie: I have only started writing again in earnest and submitting work, since Spring this year. I am looking forward to a summer of work being published in: Ink Sweat and Tears, Sledgehammer, Five Minutes, Cool Rock Repository, Anti-Heroin Chic, Catatonic Daughters and The Birdseed Magazine. (All are on Twitter).

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

Marie: At the moment I am enjoying a line from an old poem of mine He says I have a measure of red, a marble streak running to extreme parts. This came out of a writing workshop with Andrew Waterhouse during my MA.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Marie: I owe a lot to my High School English teacher, Yvonne Rushmere, who helped my self confidence no end. My husband is my biggest Champion.