Ruth Sabath Rosenthal–Interview

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

I work at home, at my desk, on my laptop computer with just me, my thoughts, the computer screen, my trusty orbit mouse and the magic that flows from my fingers, to the keyboard, to the screen and, hopefully—eventually, into print in some fine poetry journal online, or hard copy, or in a poetry anthology, invariably in print.

What is your routine for writing?

I like to start writing early in the day and often I just barely stop for a bite to eat or a bathroom break. That’s on a day when I’ve no shortage of inspiration and/or my muse, whatever or whoever that may be at any given time, prods me on and on till the poem finishes and I’m mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. That doesn’t happen all that much now-a-days, but it did for the first decade of my writing career.

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

I started writing in 2000 and had my first poem published in 2006 with the very prestigious Connecticut Review and within that year I was also nominated for a PushCart prize by Ibbetson Street Press for my poem “on yet another birthday.” I wrote both poems quickly, as they were, unbeknown to me at the time, already in my head just waiting to be get out—an exciting and mystical experience for sure.

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

My ideal audience is anyone who loves poetry—a non-writer—a poet themselves—an aspiring writer—male or female, young or old. Anyone who appreciates what I call “reader-friendly” poetry—plain spoken English conveying the complexities of the nature of things: human; animal; politics; being loved; not being loved; wanting love; wanting recognition; wanting retribution; that which is wanting; believing; leaving, disappointing; the nature of happiness; longing; waiting; explaining…

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

Personal experience, primarily my own, directs and defines a great deal of my poetry, although I sometimes write poems in the 3rd person. Or, as if I’m not me, but rather, someone else. Reading great works of poetry pf both poets of generations ago and contemporary poets and today’s poets, inspires me to write. Especially when I read them out loud to myself. I find I can’t truly appreciate what’s in front of my eyes until I hear the words, see and hear them as they flow off the page through my voice into my ears and psyche and fading into the air. Sometimes I have to stop reading because I’m suddenly filled with such need to write. When that happens I feel it’s magic. A magic where I feel the words I type, which then appear on the computer screen, are coming from a place or a person channeling me who is not in the realm I exist in. When that phenomenon occurs, more often than not, the poem gets finished quickly and goes on to meets great publishing success. The experience is awesome but, unfortunately, doesn’t happen all that often. If I find I’m blocked, I turn to my older poems and heavily edit them—usually to fit a “call for submissions” where a theme has been assigned as the criteria for the poem to be submitted. And of course, reading already established poets work and reading that aloud (I know I keep saying this, but I find it so very helpful ). There will come a time in that reading process that the urge to write pushes through and the reading is put away, and the insistent computer or pen and paper break through the rough patch of writer’ block and I’m back on track again.

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

I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, niece, cousin and someone who loves watching “Reality” TV—the absurdities lift me out of any doldrums and the overly dramatic behavior on the big screen takes me to a place so alien that I forget my reality enough to be recharged for facing the oncoming day. I also destress by watching some of the BBC and British TV programs and the Series on the PBS channels (13 and 21: the various mystery series; the Downton Abby like series; the period pieces – Jane Austen’s some of my favorites. And, while watching these British shows I often use the “closed captions,” even though the spoken language is English, because many of the words, spoken with heavy British accents, elude me unless I’m hearing them and simultaneously reading them on the screen.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part of the creative process. Umm. I could say the writing itself and the pride when the poem is finished, that pride furthered when the poem is published. But there’s an even greater creative process that comes later on—even years later—and that’s taking a look at any one of my older poems, written even decades ago, and taking on the task of adapting the poem to fit a specific theme via a publication’s “call for submissions.” Because the themes provided are universal in subject matter, and because my poems are also universal in subject matter, I find it thrilling to edit a existing poem of mine till I believe it nicely fits the criteria put forth. The “magic” that I spoke of comes into play here, as the re-write to meet the theme requisite, always greatly improves the poem; it evolves into being better, more meaningful work. The process in which this happens brings excitement and reward. Very exciting and rewarding when the revised poem is accepted for publication.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Read lots of great poetry – diverse forms of it – formal – those with little or no punctuation like Kay Ryan’s. Try writing only syllabic poetry with end-line rhymes. That’s what I did for the first couple of years. It was so good for me in creating a personal rhythm – especially if the syllabic lines were heavy in iambic pentameter. I got good at crating my own forms of syllabic poetry. I’d do one long line, one short line, one long line, stanza after stanza. Each end of the line, a rhyming couplet or every other line that. I got quite good at rhyming and structure. rhythm and cadence. Then I started moving the rhymes into the body of the poem instead of at the end of lines. And I loosened up on the syllabics and added alliteration into the mix, but always, using everyday language, albeit sometimes a bit formal. I experimented with poems without any punctuation – others, heavily punctuated, and others – a balance of punctuation. Specific line breaks to make the poem more interesting and quirky or more poignant. Specific line breaks to emphasize a mood or break in a mood or to create movement by directing where the reader’s eye has to go to find what is after the line break. Stanza breaks can also serve the same function, maybe even more profoundly because of the extra blank space between one stanza and the next. So, in conclusion – my advice to aspiring writers is read read read and read out loud. Hear the words as they leave the page and hang mid air, or float, or crash, or demand attention, or as they taper off into silence.

Check out Ruth’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2

 

Roger Camp–Interview

I think most artists would agree that the world is your creative space. Most of what takes place creatively happens in an artist’s head and can occur anywhere at any time: walking in the street, day dreaming, attending a concert, having a conversation. The list is endless. If you are speaking about a work space, in the past that would have been a darkroom. Currently it is at home in my office which has a floor to ceiling window and looks out upon a garden.

In the past I used film, including black and white, color negative and color positive film. My longest experience was with Kodachrome 25 film (no longer made) and making color prints called Cibachromes (aka Ilfochromes). I now use a digital camera and make digital prints using Adobe Photoshop.

I don’t have a fixed routine except to work daily.

I’ve been making art for over fifty years. I date my first serious photograph from age ten when I climbed up into a fir tree in order to take Yosemite Falls from a different perspective. When I was sixteen I taught myself how to print in a make-shift darkroom I set up in my father’s woodshop. There is something magical about seeing an image come up in the developing tray that never gets old.

I have never consciously thought about an audience. I believe that would have a devastating effect on an artist’s work and it is what separates commercial artists from fine artists. You make art for yourself. I have hundreds if not thousands of photographs which have never been seen that mean as much to me as those I’ve shared, exhibited or published.

Inspiration comes from being alive but only if you are paying attention. It could be a love affair that ends badly. Or a terrific novel you are reading. An overheard remark in a cafe. A dramatic stage setting by a gifted set designer. If you are “blocked” you wait, just like a farmer allows her/his land to be fallow before sowing.

I spend a great deal of my time traveling, reading, gardening, writing poetry and as much time as I can in conversation with people who are more knowledgeable than myself in a variety of subjects.

Seeing the photograph in my head the millisecond before pressing the shutter.

Spend as much time as possible in your own company. Expose yourself as much as possible to nature without the trappings of media. Visit as many museums as possible and examine the art that has gone before you, not your contemporaries.

Check out Roger’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

Roberta Gould–Interview

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

THIS HAS VARIED OVER TIME. I USED TO GET UP EARLY EACH MORNING AND SIT THERE AND WRITE.  With experience now I live and listen to the inside and out, and catch something when something is there.  It is always a great surprise.  I do have a space to type, submit, revise…a room for this only…but most of the poems come when I am walking or swimming, living, and then I quickly jot down what I have after which the hard work begins.

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

I write on whatever paper I can find…sometimes I do a journal and select phrases that grab me…the journal is a journal of what has been going on in my life.  Many of us have written good poems on napkins.  Me too.

What is your routine for writing?   Sometimes I work in the morning…but these days I am working in the late afternoon.  With years of experience and 11 books behind me I do not fret or force anything.  And poems do keep coming but usually not in the writing office

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

Began writing age 25…Many years…

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

I write for the ideal world called by some “truth.”

I do write political poems but they are poems not slogans etc.  They are challenging but my responsibility as a person who believes in democracy.

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

I do not fret about being blocked…I always come out of lapses. I wait.  I sweep the floor,  I go swimming , I wash the dishes,  I walk in the woods, I pet my dog..etc., (I live.)

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

I swim, I play piano, talk with a few friends.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

When something comes up and then I have a pencil to write it down and then work on it expand it, hone it or leave it alone. When done I feel happy, I only recently realized that doing this makes me happy and that I have to do it, with no worry of course.

Getting a flash, a phrase and then keeping focused to continue it.

Check out Roberta’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

Linda Crate–Interview

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

Usually, at home. I can write anywhere, though. I’ve sent poems off whilst at my best friend’s house as she was still sleeping, at my parent’s house when they’ve left me behind to do something, and I have even written outside. However, I wouldn’t recommend the latter as bugs are annoying.

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

My computer, my notepads, my phone. I do both—writing by hand usually when in a public setting. If not, I will attach little notes to my phone to remember an idea later.

What is your routine for writing?

I work night shift so I normally spend the morning to the afternoon writing before leaving to work around 3:30ish. On my days off I will just get up, turn up some music, and get to it.

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

I’ve been writing since I was five or six so twenty-six years.

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

I don’t have any particular audience I try to  appeal to. Whomever is moved and touched by my writing I do appreciate, but I write for myself. I write because I have a song to sing, and I hope that others can relate to that in some way.

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

Anything and everything. I am constantly inspired by other authors, things that have happened in my life, the weather, songs. I always have ideas, it seems.

If I am blocked then I take a break and go outside or just listen to some music or  cook (I love cooking). I don’t try to force anything. I just let the words come back to me.

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

Reading, swimming, spending time with friends and family, shopping, listening to music and dancing, singing, crafting, occasionally acting, I used to roleplay a lot  (forum based ones), cooking and baking,  taking adventures out into nature, watch anime and manga, etc.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I love when you get in your groove and the words start flowing and you put one word after another word and somehow it’s become this story or poem. The musicality of words has always entranced and intrigued me.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Dreams don’t work unless you do. If you want this, really want this, then don’t give up. There’s going to be critics, people who hate your work simply because it’s you, rejection letters, and bad days. But if you keep on going despite all that, it’s really rather rewarding.

Check out Linda’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

Mark Hudson–Interview

What is your creative space? Where do you write?

Sometimes observations of things in real
life inspire me, I might write a poem about something
I saw. So I usually have paper to jot notes down, so
I never lose an idea. The only problem, my handwriting
is so poor, that I can’t even read my own handwriting!
(One time, I was writing a poem on the train, and
some man said,  “What’s that? Sanskrit?”)

What kind of materials do you use?

I think it was Ray Bradbury who said,
“If you want to be a good writer, read more than you
write! Even read bad stuff, so your stuff won’t be like
that!” I read books everyday, but I can’t get by without
my laptop, either!

How long have you been writing?

Since the seventies! I was born in 1970,
and I have early childhood photos, those “square”
size photos they used to have, of me constantly
in front of the typewriter! In third grade, I went to
a young writers conference at school, and most of
the kids had a ten page short story, and I had a 140
page book! Then I wrote a book called, “The spy
in space,” a long epic, and my uncle borrowed it
to read it, and he lost it! But I’ve lost other pieces,
bodies of artwork, computers crashing, you
hopefully learn to protect your ideas better!

Who is your intended audience?

Humans! I guess if you’re trying
to get people to listen to your work and appreciate
it, you never know who will like it and who won’t!
I was asked to read a poem of mine two hours
away from me in an art gallery in the middle of
nowhere! The people loved it, and I got several
compliments on my work! But I don’t drive,
so if I didn’t get a ride, I couldn’t get there!

What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Rome was not built in one day?
I just started reading a book about Ernest
Hemingway, and on one of his super-famous
novels, he had five different endings he wanted
to use, but none of them fit. When I was in
writing school, they talked about the need to
rewrite, and it’s true. I’ve written whole novellas,
and realized they were terrible and was grateful
they weren’t published. But anyone could say that.

What else do you besides writing?

I’m also an artist, so with all my
interests, I’m never really bored. When I was in
my twenties, I’d tell my peers, “I’m never bored.”
But the truth is, I was always bored.  If you want
to be a writer, you sometimes have to be alone
a lot. And if you were married, or you had kids,
they would have to understand that when you’re
writing, you’re working. There are writers and
artists who make money, sometimes a lot,
and they’re not starving, nor are their families.
But I’ve been given a chance in the circumstance
I’m in to have the free-time to pursue writing.
I’m 46 years old, and I could look at it as I’ve
wasted time along the way. But who doesn’t
say, “If I knew then what I knew now?”

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Giving praise back to the creator
of the universe, who made “everything,” for
making me realize I can be “me” and still
be a child of God. And I love to be in the
company of other creative people, of whom
I know many. I belong to many writers
associations, and one is Rockford Writers
Guild in Illinois. They have a “Good news”
section of their newsletter, where you can
report publications, and I reported the
good news of publishing “balloons”
to Magnolia Review to Wilda Morris,
who is in charge of that, and she e-mailed
back and said, “I had a balloon poem
accepted as well!

Getting “Balloons” accepted made
me very happy, because I wrote it around
the time of my 46th birthday. It is a very
upbeat poem, and I was feeling very
happy at the time. My 46th year as it
has panned out has had some challenges,
family health issues, and so I could
choose to be sad. But I have writing
and art, and it is the greatest therapy
known to man! (and woman!)

(If this interview is published on the blog,
I want to thank Suzanna for accepting my
poem, and putting this interview on the blog,
if it goes on. And if anybody reads this
and hopes to be a writer, I hope that
something I said inspires you. Remember,
not everything has been done yet, and
each individual is a new voice. Every
life is worth a lot to the ultimate creator!)

Check out Mark Hudson’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2 and Volume 4, Issue 1.

Robert Beveridge–Interview

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

I started when I was four. Doing the math, that would be 1972-73, depending on when. Supposedly, the first notebook I used back then is still in existence somewhere. (I still remember much of what was in it. Today we’d call it “bad Speed Racer fanfic,” but that term wasn’t around in the seventies. The first story involved a Satanic goose. Nope, not kidding.)

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

Often a line pops into my head, and I start turning it over and over to see what I can do with it. That may have a genesis (it happens often at poetry readings, unsurprisingly), but at other times it may come out of thin air, like when I’m driving and bored.

I don’t think of “blocked” the way most people do, because writing every day has never been a specific goal. If I’m writing every day, wonderful. I don’t think I’ve done so for more than a couple of months since 1994, though. I’ve gone through three-year stretches where I haven’t written a single poem more than once. I don’t really think of it as frustrating; I’m usually just channelling creative output into another medium (criticism, music, etc.).

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

I was a media critic (mostly amateur, sometimes semi-pro, and pro for a couple of months in 2000; a couple of my reviews can still be found on CNN’s website if you know where to look) for thirty years, and I’ve been in bands more often than not since 1982; my current flagship project, XTerminal, is a little over eighteen years old as of this writing.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

I do a lot of answering questions on the website Quora, and I can’t believe how often I have to say this to people… if you’re getting into writing for the money… don’t. The number of novelists who make a living from writing full-time has increased tremendously with the rise of self-publishing, but it’s still a minuscule number compared to the number of novelists. And that’s a mainstream form of artistic expression. If you focus on short stories or poetry, well, the number of people I have known over the past almost fifty years who have made a living with one of those, without having another job, has been in the single digits. (With poetry, there’s Bukowski, and… yeah. That’s it.) Philip Levine was a factory worker for years while being one of America’s most celebrated poets. A lot of them are professors. A few are on disability. Hey, it counts as a source of income. You don’t make a living, much less get rich, doing this stuff. My first publication credit came in 1988. I crossed the 500 publication mark early in 2016. I’m closing in on grossing $200. (I should add that from 1988 through 2015 inclusive, the amount of money I made from publishing poetry was $3.)

Check out Robert’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

Leland James–Interview

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

I have a recliner, laptop, and lap board by windows looking out from my cabin into the north woods of northern Michigan, fifty-foot maples on a hillside. The chair is flanked by a desk and a work table within reach. View of fire stove in winter.

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

I use a standard laptop with word processing. I love split screen, to compare drafts.

What is your routine for writing?

I rise at around 6 AM. Coffee and news. My wife of 40-odd years gets up later, and we read aloud for a while. Light breakfast and to work for 4 to 6 hours. In afternoon I am in woods with chain saw or on splitter putting up winter’s wood.

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

Started writing poetry when I was twelve. That’s about six decades.

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

I write for people who love and appreciate poetry. Period. I care nothing for what academia thinks, and frankly I find much of what they do and produce a killing influence on poetry in the US. I publish a lot in Europe where more regular people read poetry.

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

I write because I love it and I have to. It is part and parcel of who I am. As to block. I have a system like the minors for baseball. When I have a poem that is promising but doesn’t make the grade for publication, I send it down to the minors—a file system. At times when I’m not obsessed with an idea, I bring a player up and see if I can bring it along to the majors.

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

I am pretty much a home body. I read, play with our new puppy…. I do travel, maybe monthly, to do readings at libraries or to attend a reading for a poetry contest I’ve judged. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with readers.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I really can’t say. It’s all one for me. But I do hate, in longer works, formatting.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Don’t take advice.

Check out Leland’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.