Charles W. Brice–Interview

Creative space: My wife, the poet Judy Brice, and I are lucky enough to have two homes: one in Pittsburgh and one on Walloon Lake in Petoskey, MI. In Pittsburgh I have a wonderful garret on our third floor where I work and in Petoskey I have a second-floor study that looks out on the lake. The truth is, however, I can write anywhere: bookstores, cars, libraries, coffee houses, hotel rooms, park benches—anywhere.

Writing materials: Most of the time I write in a notebook that I keep in my back pocket. So I usually write the rough drafts of my poems by hand. I edit as I get them into the computer and then edit some more. I love my Pilot G-2 10 ink pens and hate to write with anything else.

Writing Routine: I read in the morning, poetry, novels, nonfiction, whatever, then, after lunch, go to my study and write all day. That’s not quite true: I consider submitting part of my writing day. Usually I’ll start something new or edit existing poems (some poems go through 30 edits), but always finish the day with submitting to at least one venue.

Writing, how long? I wrote poems in college but when I met my wife, Judy, I read some of her poetry and stopped writing myself for about twenty years. Her work was so good that I thought I’d be better off not writing anymore. I shouldn’t have done that, but it’s the truth. I started writing fiction again about 20 years ago. I got a few stories published but found that people really enjoyed my poems and they started getting published frequently so…I became a poet.

Audience: My first audience is my wife, Judy, then our son, Ariel, then my best and closest friends. I always have someone in mind when I write. Even though writing is a solitary process, it’s a relational process for me. I love to get my work published because I love to have people read it. It’s a special boon for me when I meet someone new because of my work. That’s happened when people have read my work on Facebook. I love it!

Inspiration: Reading other poets really inspires me, in fact, I’ve got this crazy idea that the worth of a particular poet I’m reading is directly proportional to the number of poems I get inspired to write while reading her/his work. I’m blessed, I’m never blocked. I think this is because, years ago, when I was in college, I had an English prof named Bernie Beaver who taught us that “anything can be a poem.” That piece of advice has been so helpful to me, Another teacher of mine, Jack Ridl, says that out of ten poems he’s written only one might be publishable, but the other nine were worth it. That’s a liberating thought, one that has helped me write about anything, anywhere! I’m also a member of a terrific writing group at our public library. I get a poem a week out of that group.

Other things I do: On my third floor in Pittsburgh sits the exact drum set that Ringo Starr played in the Beatles—a Ludwig Oyster Pearl drum set with Zildjian cymbals. I love playing them. I was in a rock band and a soul band when a young guy and have recently taken up jazz drumming. Also, I love taking long walks with my dog Mugsi. She’s a sweetie!

Favorite Part of Creative Process: I love editing—tinkering around with the original draft. I think of it as sculpting, getting the poem into a particular shape usually dictated, eventually, by the poem itself rather than by some design of mine. I agree with Billy Collins who says that the best part of the writing process is being surprised by what comes up in the poem, especially the ending.

Advice to writers: Get rid of your inner critic! When you hear that voice say, “it’s crap,” or “you’re no good,” give it the inner finger and write. Find your own writing rhythm. I write every day, and I’ve got friends who tell me that I’m so disciplined. I’m not disciplined! I love what I do and that’s what feels right for me. If you write only when the muse arrives, then that’s great. My wife writes only when the mood hits, and she’s a tremendous poet. Also, if you don’t want to submit your work, that’s fine. There’s no law that you have to, but if you want to publish your work, you’ve got to get it out there. You can’t catch fish if you ain’t got no bait, as the old blues song goes. Make submitting part of your normal writing day. Don’t take rejection personally. Wear rejection like a medal on your chest! It means you’re trying your best. Read like mad and eventually you’ll find your own voice. If you have a book, market it like crazy! The books don’t sell themselves! People who feel that marketing is somehow beneath them get what they deserve—few sales. They also are often the ones who whine that no one reads poetry anymore.

Check out Charles’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2, and the review of Mnemosyne’s Hand: Poems in Volume 4, Issue 2

What Now?

The project did not reach the goal of $6,000 for printing two issues of The Magnolia Review. However, I am working on finalizing Plan B, and all of my backers will be the first to know about this new option. Thank you for your support of this crazy project and dream of mine. Someday there will be print issues of The Magnolia Review. This is just part of the journey toward that dream. Stay tuned for some better news, and Happy November!

–Suzanna Anderson

Aloura Hattendorf–Interview

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

My creative space can be pretty much anywhere. I sometimes have random flashes of inspiration where I have to drop everything and write. It could be at the store, walking my dog, out with friends. For my brain, it doesn’t matter. I do prefer working alone in the quiet because it lets me think over what I’m trying to say. And when I need to read it back aloud to myself I don’t look like a lunatic.

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

My preferred tools are simple: a (specifically) blue ball point pen, lined paper, and hours of alone time. I’m not entirely sure why I like blue ball point pens. The only thing I can think of that makes me really like them is how smooth they move, I guess. I like using loose paper because it allows me to easily look back on what I just wrote.

What is your routine for writing?

I have a structured system. I write what I have, expand on that, check tenses, then I add onto what I have until finally I type it.

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

I’ve been writing on and off for years but it wasn’t until about a year ago when I really started taking it seriously. I’ve been writing since I was little but I really got into it in high school and have been trying to incorporate it into my life ever since.

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

I’ve never really thought about an audience. I want to write to those who need to express their emotions but just can’t. By that, I mean they’re almost stuck. One thing I’ve learned is that, personally, I can’t get anywhere without sorting out my feelings first. I know what it’s like to be stuck in a constant state for days, and days. It can drive the best people insane.

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

My inspiration comes from my day to day life, even in stories. I try to take the highs and the lows of a day and turn them into something everyone can enjoy. I can make it rhyme, I can incorporate it into a fantasy story, it all depends on my mood. If I have a block I go and do something. It could be anything, it’s to jumpstart my engine and remember what my end goal is.

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

I like to draw and paint. I find it very soothing and at times, cathartic. It’s very nice to bring the people, things, or worlds that have been floating around in my head in both words and pictures. It helps organize my thoughts.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part is when it all falls together. It’s so rewarding. It feels like finding the missing piece to a puzzle you’ve been dying to solve and you finally did it, and it’s the most beautiful thing ever. It feels like a new kind of euphoria.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Use lots of emotion and this can apply to stories and poems. It’s emotion that drives us to become better. There’s never a moment when you’re not feeling, so it’s important to use that.

 

Check out Aloura’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

Mishigamaa by Robert Krantz

Krantz submitted to the first issue of The Magnolia Review. His poems are magnetic and show poetic mastery. His language builds strong and lasting images. His chosen language sounds a melodious music to read aloud, a rhythm that you have to play to completion.

In “Pearl,” the speaker begins with, “I remember the wheat fields / of Iowa and the photograph / of you I took with me, / and how neither ever really ended.” The speaker continues, “We ate and loved / much in that decade, / collided with stars, / authored myths / and stuffed our age-spotted hands / into denim pockets.” The image and sound carries through the lines, building to the final image of “The half shells we find on beaches / were once a thing joined together, / breathing, and grinding / new pearls into place.” The poem builds like a pearl, with the images stringing together into a cohesive piece.

Laundry can be boring. The speaker reflects on his fellow laundry-doers in “Load,” where “The bachelors in the laundromat / spill their words / like bleach / on black clothes, / speak of condos / and alimonies— / thick humidities turning.” The clothes transform into more, they are “damp thoughts” as they wash, and they “…breathe[s] / restless poems / into my blues and grays. / Soon this summer rain / will end, volume of water / striking pavement / will knob itself silent.” Krantz ends the poem with a moment that draws the reader back to the reality of the laundromat, “The cash machine, / against the flecked wall, / reminds me to change.”

The collection ends with “Pathfinder,” about a hatchet and its story. It shares the story of two boys cutting down a tree and of a sibling wrestling game gone awry.

Overall, Krantz’s poems are musical and full of images that inspire looking at mundane events in a new and interesting way. I look forward to reading more of Krantz’s work.

Check out Robert‘s work in Volume 1, Issue 1, and a review of Gargoyles in Volume 2, Issue 2.

Scarlett Peterson–Interview

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

Both, actually. I work everywhere in that I keep a journal with me at all times. I don’t set aside a certain hour a day, and I don’t find any one place more productive than the next.

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

I try to hand-write first because I find blank word documents intimidating. Seeing my own handwriting is not as jarring, and I find that typing it all up helps me to revise quickly and efficiently anyway.

What is your routine for writing?

I keep a daily poetry journal. My first year of grad school I took a workshop with Cecilia Woloch, and she assigned the daily poetry journal as a means to get us writing more often, and it stuck with me. Since I began sort of forcing myself to write something every day I’ve become more accustomed to looking at everything through a poetic lens.

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

I began writing in high school, very casually. Oddly enough, I tried to write every day back then too, but it was more of a hybrid of fiction and nonfiction then. I followed a twitter called Write One Leaf, which may still be around, and wrote whatever came to mind. I didn’t begin to see writing as a career until I was nearly out of college. I’d planned to study abroad the summer before graduation when I ran out of money and wound up staying and taking summer classes instead; I wound up in my first poetry workshop then, and I applied for my MFA in the Fall of 2015. I’m currently half-way done with the three year MFA at Georgia College, and I’m so glad that my life didn’t go quite as planned that Summer.

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

I write for people who have experienced trauma, and I write for myself. Ideally my audience is anyone who feels something when they read my writing.

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

I find inspiration everywhere, it’s just channeling it into good writing that’s difficult. When I’m stuck, I free write until I find what I need to say. I teach my comp students to do the same thing, and I think it works for any type of writing.

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

I love to cook and bake, and I love makeup. I freelance a little, but mostly I just do photoshoots and weddings for friends.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part of the creative process is probably the final round of revision, which is odd, because you can’t always tell that you’re in the final round until you’re finished. I love having a finished product.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Don’t let rejection stop you. Keep writing, and above all else keep reading. One of the first things I heard in grad school was to read every book that was mentioned by a professor, and I think that’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

 

Check out Scarlett‘s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.