Mirana Comstock–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.? 
As a screenwriter, singer/songwriter and advertising copywriter, as well as a poet, my creative space and process varies for each of those forms of writing. For the purposes of this interview, I will concentrate on poetry. A lot of my creative space for writing poetry is actually between my ears…inside my head. It’s portable, custom made especially for me and always available. The cons? When it breaks down…distraction, lack of sleep or inspiration…there is no tech to fix it. Except me.

It is only at the very last round of working on a poem that I commit to paper…well, actually to screen…on my computer. Usually because I am afraid I will forget it or, if scrawled on the back of some envelope, won’t be able to read my not-so-great handwriting when I return to it. Before that happens, most of the writing leading up to that moment tends to be while walking my two rescue dogs. We live in a seaside town and there is nothing like walking next to the ocean at dawn or dusk to get my head going. That whole alone but not alone thing really works for me. Because I work sitting in front of a computer all day as an advertising copywriter, I also think being in motion, outside, helps to separate it out from work.

My actual in-home creative space is in a former pantry of our late Victorian house. It is furnished with a rolltop desk and the old oak swivel chair that my late grandfather, author Konrad Bercovici, had in his study. The chair is really uncomfortable,  even with lots of pillows to cushion it. But knowing he wrote all those books and stories sitting in it is a whole other kind of comfort. 

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
When it comes to actually fine-tuning what I have written in my head, I use an iMac. I do love being able to move words and phrases around and trying out alternate versions without having to figure out exactly what I wrote in an earlier session. My handwriting does become somewhat of a scrawl in inspired moments.

What is your routine for writing?
I usually have a poem or two that I am working on in my head and I sort of try them out while walking to see if anything starts to come together. Sometimes I check through my computer poetry file for any unfinished work before heading out. Letting things sit for a while and then coming back to them can really help give you some perspective on your work.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I actually can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I come from a family of noted multi-field creatives. Painters, singers, sculptors…they all also wrote. Because of this, I remember a teacher one time…I think it was in the third grade…questioning whether family members were writing my assignments. She left me in a classroom, alone, and asked me to write something. I was scared at first, then got sort of defiant about what I could do…and she couldn’t. I ended up writing a poem about a plant in our window communicating with a plant in another window across the school courtyard. They never asked me to do that again. I wish I had a copy of that poem.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
I don’t really have an intended audience. I guess I mainly write for myself and hope someone else “gets it.” That said, I really do love it when younger generations are into the work. I use a combination of rhyme and free verse…with rhythm and rhyme anchoring the words, phrases and lines. Since rhyme can be considered old school, I like it when the new school or even the still in school appreciate it.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
Everything inspires me. The wind at night. A new scientific discovery. An odd juxtaposition of events in the news. I try to let it all in and link with whatever else is already in my head. I don’t think I have ever been truly blocked…maybe less inspired…but not fully blocked. The flow is usually still there. Part of that may come from my copywriting day job. If you write for a living every day, you can’t really allow yourself to be blocked. 

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
I am a singer/songwriter for alt rock duo Theory of Tides, a screenwriter, and a photographer. I consider the later the closest to poetry in terms of catching and holding a moment.  I also love to dance and am a pup parent who spends a lot of time walking, playing with and just loving the pure joy and enthusiasm of my two rescue dogs.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?
When words just kind of flow in without any apparent mechanical action on the part of my brain. Sort of like speaking in tongues or channeling some deep part of myself or my surroundings. That is the ultimate high. Then the work begins.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Keep your mind open all of the time. You never know what words, thoughts or images will come on in, make themselves at home…and eventually become a poem, a story, a song.

Check out Mirana‘s work in Volume 6, Issue 1.

Mirana Comstock

Mirana Comstock is an award-winning writer, photographer, and musician. She has won multiple Best of Fest screenwriting awards from international film festivals. Her photographs are in the collections of the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the NY Historical Society, and she exhibits frequently in NY and the Boston area. She has also created national ad campaigns for such clients as Timberland, Seagram’s and JBL. A Juilliard-trained musician, she is currently mixing new music as singer/songwriter/ keyboardist for alt dance duo Theory of Tides. Her work as a lyricist and a photographer’s eye for detail are both strong influences on her poetic voice.

“Sailing,” Oxygen,” “Crown Shy,” “Post Op,” and “(S)unflowers,” Volume 6, Issue 1

Interview

Volume 6 Issue 2 Theme Announced

The issue will be available July 2020.

The optional theme is A Defining Moment. See the Submit tab for details on how to submit. We accept photography, art, comics, creative nonfiction, fiction, flash fiction, experimental work, hybrid work, and poetry.

Congratulations, Gary Beck!

Check out Gary Beck‘s latest books EARTH LINKS, MORTAL COIL, THE BIG MATCH, STILL DEFIANT, DESPERATE SEEKER. Congratulations!

The Anatomical Venus–Helen Ivory

The Anatomical Venus by Helen Ivory. Bloodaxe Books, 2019. 64 pages. $9.95, paperback.

Gentlemen, the Venerina is a dissectible young woman

            presented voluptuously in her final moments.

               from The Little Venus

In the forty-eight poems that comprise Helen Ivory’s latest collection, she herself dissects society’s attitudes to women over the past 500-odd years, from the dark days of puritans and witches to our own (supposedly) enlightened era of AI and ex machina porn. The Anatomical Venus literally refers to an 18th Century wax effigy of an idealised woman, to be examined and deconstructed by (typically male) medical students, but also provides a neat metaphor for every doll, real or figurative, that has ever found itself marginalized, manipulated and misunderstood – or else confined to the eponymous house, in which

            A woman lies so tidily

            below the belly of her cooking range,

but

            A child presses fingers to a pattern of blood

            on the candy-stripe wallpaper,

            traces the outline of the pink blanket

            draped over the edge of the cot

            while her mother explains

            that something bad has happened

            in the dolls’ house.

               from The Dolls’ House Mysteries

          Helen Ivory is a feminist, an intellectual, an historian and (very nearly) a scientist, and yet above all she is an artist, not a polemicist, a poet, not a politician, and subject matter that might, in clumsier hands, have become mere manifesto is transformed into gorgeous riffs on a multifaceted theme where

            The rattle of clockwork

 fell about her feet

            as faces blazed down

            from every high place they’d been hiding.

            And the vesper, that evening star, rang out.

               from Chair

In The Anatomical Venus you will find wit and compassion, intelligence and research, realism and surrealism, allusion and illusion, history and myth. But most importantly, you will gain access to a carefully constructed work of poetry that quite simply needs to be read –

  In the third dream

  I am shining the silver

  of every smoke-tainted

  coffeehouse in Vienna.

  Spoons queue up –

  clever schoolboys

  on the first day of term –

  I polish their faces.

  All of the girl-children

  are folded lace parasols

  packed up in a casket

  at the back of the nursery.

     from Housewife Psychosis

In short, this is a wonderful (in the original sense of the word) collection, a literary wunderkammer, a work of serious intent and deft achievement that deserves an essay, not a review. The essays, I am sure, will be forthcoming. In the meantime, let this review suffice.

—Michael Paul Hogan

Aidan Coleman–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I like the idea of writing in coffee shops, and often do drafting there but the main business of writing takes place in my cluttered study at home.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I mostly work on the computer … Boring, I know.

What is your routine for writing?

With poetry at least, I’m usually working on something else and I’m taken by a line – never by an idea. I try to write the line down as I receive it, and that usually provides a way into something. Often my first draft is quite similar to the final version in terms of the trajectory, rhythm, tone etc. but some of the language will sharpen through drafting. I have more of a set routine writing prose because you can just turn up with prose and some days are better than others, but you know you’ll get something down. With poetry you’re really at the mercy of the Muse.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I wrote limericks and stuff like that as a kid but I started writing seriously when I began university—so about 22 years now.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I would have said in the past for as many people as possible, but I have come to the reluctant conclusion that most people like clichés, and as poetry is a war against cliché (a statement that may be a cliché itself) the poet really can’t write for everyone if they want to be true to their art.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

Reading great poetry, especially contemporary work.

I’m not particularly prolific, but I’ve never worried about writer’s block.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I teach, play with my kids, read, watch soccer, and go to church.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

The initial rush of a line, and the final edit.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Read all you can … and—if they’re not too famous—seek out those writers you admire and ask for some pointers. Most likely, they’ll have done the same in the distant past, and they will be happy to help. This is an easier proposition if they’re poets. If you are aspiring to be a poet, just enjoy being part of the community and you will quickly improve. Once that happens, never assume a poem you write is good just because you’re a good poet. Resist becoming one of the two or three stereotypes society assigns to poets. … Keep reading.

Check out Aidan’s work in Volume 5, Issue 1.