Monthly Archives: February 2014

Interview with M. Robert Fisher

Today’s interview is with the winner of Bop Dead City’s Issue 6 Contest Winner for fiction, M. Robert Fisher. I forgot to ask him what he thought about winning the contest, so let’s assume it was the greatest moment of his life or at least top three. Handsome devil, too.
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Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Gritty to light literary fiction with humor and heart, grounded in realism.
Tell me about your story “Small Town Girl.”
“Small Town Girl” is a story that follows Ray Beaudry, a hard drinking, sardonic writer with a firm, potentially twisted world perspective that tends to get him in more trouble than anything else.  This follows him on an almost petulantly inspired road trip out of the city after feeling placated and unappreciated for his literary mastery.  In most of my “Ray stories” he gets drunk and does something stupid or reckless but usually with good intentions; in this story I wanted to feed the romantic in me.  I’ve often described this story as my version of a Gothic romantic comedy, a fractured fairy tale so to speak.  It was an opportunity to show Ray’s softer side, which I don’t often give in to.  And what’s more romantic than going on an adventure and meeting a beautiful stranger in a strange new place?
What or who inspires you to write?
Words.  Sounds basic or simplistic but I can be inspired be a single phrase, even a word.  This story was inspired by a conversation I had with an editor I was working with at the time and she simply said “you’re growing.”.  I once wrote a 4,000 word short story completely inspired by the word “unfurnished” which I’d come upon while reading a Henry Miller novel.  If I am reading, chances are I am writing.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Because I started out in screenwriting a lot of my influences came from film and television.  I would say my greatest literary influences have been Charles Bukowski and Nick Hornby, who couldn’t be more different but speak to me in ways other authors like Vonnegut and Henry Miller failed.   Reading fiction to me is such a deeply personal thing that I am inspired by people who I feel bled on the page, whether it is light or stark in tone.
Do you have a blog/website?
Just Facebook:
Where can we read you next?
Other than Bop Dead City?  I have a short stories published in “Bleeding Heart Cadaver” and “Notes Magazine” which are both available on Amazon.  A lot of my previously published fiction was published on now defunct web magazines.  I am in the process of resubmitting a lot of that work as well as placing some older stories I’ve been polishing up.
What are you working on right now?
My novel.  The novel that is killing me.  It’s a dual narrative about a 20-something drug addicted poet and a woman estranged from her children that form a suicide pact after meeting on craigslist.
Any advice for other writers?
Find your voice and don’t let anyone try to dissuade you from being who you are.  And keep writing, no matter how rough the criticism can get.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Keep reading!  Anything, I don’t care.  Just read!
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Interview with Ariana Den Bleyker

First, a quick thanks to everyone who’s submitting to us so far and to everyone who’s bought a copy. I had to do a second run to meet demand, which is both satisfying and frustrating to my lazy self. Next, we’ve got an interview with Ariana Den Bleyker, who not only writes but also runs ELJ Publications, a real deal publisher of literary things.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Relentless in truth, fearless in confession.

Tell me about your poem “Making Love After Kids.”

I think anyone who’s been married for over 15 years and has one or two young children understand that getting a few minutes to steal away with your spouse is a rare opportunity, even at bedtime. This poem amplifies how we toss and turn with pieces of ourselves all week until we can finally take what we want and need when there is a moment to rest.

What or who inspires you to write?

My inspirations vary. Most of what inspires me to write is my past and working through it. Sometimes, it might just be a lyric to a song, a memory or a dream that opens me up.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

I devour Mary Stone Dockery and Noelle Kocot. These are two contemporary woman poets to read. I’ve also been a fan of Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich.

Do you have a blog/website?

Yes. http://www.arianaddenbleyker.com. Admittedly, I don’t update it as frequently as I should. I spend most of my spare hours maintaining all of the ELJ Publications’ sites.

Where can we read you next?

I have several pieces floating around out there in A NARROW FELLOW, Stone Highway Review and others. 2014 will bring the chaps Hatched from Bone and Stitches. It will also bring micro-chaps On This and That and On How Steel Breaks Stone, Bone.

What are you working on right now?

The manuscript doesn’t fit anything. I am a poet, but this is not poetry. It is not fiction in a traditional sense. It is not fan fiction, despite the character used as a vehicle. It is not creative non-fiction despite it being based on my own self-discoveries and dream sequences. It is strange, hybrid. It is lyrical but not prose poetry. It is written in standard sentences but not really traditional prose. I hope the writing itself lets you decide. I can freely admit it fits the dark fantasy genre, like a graphic novel without illustrations. What I’ve done is illustrate with words.

It is dark fantasy tale written in ten flash chapters, each a tiny dream sequence, perhaps prose poems, involving a well-known and loved horror figure born on the big screen. The figure, though only alluded to throughout the tale, is purely a vehicle by which the narrator explores herself and her psyche through her own dreams. At its heart it is a deep, psychological collection. Although not revealed until the end of the story, the tale cohesively explores the emotional death and rebirth of the narrator through a retelling of dreams to her listener, Freddie Krueger. Written in a first person present tense point of view, the subconscious revelations of the narrator are both rich and accessible. It is narrated dream about a therapy session that explores dreams. Despite the fact each of the pieces are complete fragments, it is a classic literary growth cycle with a twist. It is tale of dreams and the dream master.

Yup, can’t find anyone that wants it other than in an anthology. It’s too personal for that.

Any advice for other writers?

Read. Lots. Oh, and always be willing to accept constructive criticism from wherever it comes. Sometimes we are too close to what we’re writing.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you. And, if you have the time check out my press ELJ Publications (www.eljpublications.com), parent of Emerge Literary Journal and scissors & spackle. Sorry, Kevin, I had to plug it. : )


Interview wih M.E. Riley

Ahh, I’m back to my lackadasical updates. I was good for like… almost two weeks? Regardless, I do have a very thoughtful and informative interview with M.E. Riley, who waxes poetic below sea level in New Orleans.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Memories, the hurt of them. Carrying and sharing narratives that define who I am. A survey on what’s lost and what I can regain.

Tell me about your poem “De Valls Bluff Voodoo.”

It’s a retelling of a memory made years ago, when I was a teenager. The memory itself is hazy in particular places, so I used it to my advantage, language-wise, and tried to encapsulate images + dialogue in dense snippets. It’s dirty weird South.

What or who inspires you to write?

Hearing folks telling stories, trying their accents on my tongue. Music – I listen to so much music. Talking family history with my mother and aunt. Visual art that challenges how I define my views on the world. Traveling through the south.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Frank Stanford, C.D. Wright, Jericho Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Philip Levine, Anne Sexton, Dorothy Parker, Langston Hughes, and Sharon Olds, to name a few.

Do you have a blog/website?

I’m currently both Blog Editor and Associate Poetry Editor for Bayou Magazine. Check out our series + highlights @ bayoumagazine.org. Haven’t had the time yet to cultivate a personal website, but folks can read my musings on Twitter (@RiotGirlRiley).

Where can we read you next?

Find my most recent work in The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society as well as in the debut issue of Quaint Magazine. A poem is forthcoming from Deep South Magazine.

What are you working on right now?

My MFA thesis. It’s in its final stages, but somehow, the ending has been much more difficult than the beginning. Understanding what a body of work is, what it does/could represent, may be the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn as an artist. If I ever figure it out, you’re the first I’ll call.

Any advice for other writers?

They say write what you know. I agree, but with an addendum: Write what you know, even if you don’t know what it means. No one has lived your life and therefore, no one can make your art. DO YOU.

Can you explain the appeal of New Orleans?

It constantly engages all my senses — I wear my gold locust earrings and pin-striped jacket to the corner store without a stranger’s glance. From my bedroom window, I see horses running the race track each morning. I hear poetry + music nearly any day of the week. I eat pounds of freshly- boiled crawfish out of a neighbor’s truck bed.

Anything else you’d like to say?

WRITE ON


Interview with Isaac Black

Today’s interview is with Isaac Black, who contributed “Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear” to Issue 6. He’s achieved more than I ever will and this makes me sad.

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Describe your poetry in 25 words or less.

Thought-provoking and enthralling, I hope. One undying theme

is that life is a Pandora’s box re: love, relationships, making it,

failing. Can we cope? How?

Tell us about your poem “Objects.”
Well, for years I worked as a social worker, was an assistant Director
at a group home, counseled at the infamous Spofford in the Bronx.
Over time I dialoged with “characters” in jail and/or on the streets.
“Objects” took me backwards, away from my usual romantic and magical poems.
What or who inspires you to write?
My parents say I was born “a Dali,” doodling, drawing, my crayons
and brushes in every corner. I went on to art schools, got a BFA in
Fine Arts, even painted at Columbia. But early on, I was also writing in
pads, stories with pictures. I always felt imaginative, and knew I’d
be an artist and/or writer down the road.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?

My major influence has been poet Robert Hayden. Overall, I think his work is masterful, and I can honestly say he taught me the most as a poet. I wrote my MFA thesis on him while at Vermont College (MFA), by the way. Also the Black Arts period (when I was publishing in most of the black journals), had major impact on me. I studied the *giants* during those years (Harper, Brooks, Lorde, to name a few), including the poets closer to my age who are now considered major. I could say far more, but I also have to give high-fives to my MFA advisors, Mark Doty, the late Jack Meyers, and Roger Weingarden who were very helpful, and widened my vision and insights.

Where can we read you next?
A number of poems are scheduled, but a recent poem I like appeared in
Do you keep a blog/website?
Yes. I am the founder of a major 501 (c) college help organization, and have
a website (www.BlackExcel.org). But my poet’s gateway will be going up in early 2014. There I’ll tell my story, how I went on a decades long hiatus after winning top poetry fellowships and other awards. I was helping thousands of college students across the nation.

What are you reading right now?

I’m playing catch-up. Poetry books and journals are stacked high. Right now, I’m reading/rereading books by Charles Harper Webb, Natasha Trethewey, Terrence Hayes, among others.
 
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’ve heard writers say, read, read, read, which always makes me smile. If you’re a serious poet/writer you already know that. I’d go deeper, if I was sitting with you and I was asked.
What are you working on right now? Editing “Hourglass,” a long overdue first poetry collection. Anything else you’d like to say? Just smiling. Many from the past who remember my work, might’ve thought I was in a urn or six feet under. Not so, obviously. Stay-tuned, please.

Interview with Rachel Nix, Issue 6’s Poetry Contest Winner

Our first interview for this go-around is with Rachel Nix, who was so kind as to give us two poems: “Kathryn,” which won the contest, and “Acreage.” It’s always nice to get submissions from fellow Southerners (even though I’m really just a carpetbagger), especially gracious Alabamians like Rachel.
Rachel Nix
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
I aim to convey the human condition; be it through my own stories or opinions of other things, and hopefully with a little Southern flavor.
Congratulations on winning such a prestigious contest! Is this your first time? How’s it feel?
 
Thank you! It is my first time and it shocked me, to be honest. It really gave me the nod of approval in wondering if my narrative approach was getting me anywhere. And to win with “Kathryn” is the best part of it all, as that poem is so personal and nostalgic for me.
Tell me about your poems “Kathryn” and “Acreage.”
 
“Kathryn” was written for a mentor of mine, Kathryn King, who so kindly let me visit her home in the summer of 2012. She’s become a very close friend of mine and I wanted to pay respect to the grace she’s shown me. “Acreage” is my way of paying homage to the wonderful childhood I had. I was surrounded with so much love and happiness growing up that being ‘poor’ was not something I even registered into thought until I was older.
What or who inspires you to write?
As a child I always followed after my grandmother who constantly told me stories and shared the most entertaining perspectives. I think in some way, poetry is my way of emulating her effect on me.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Andrew Glaze, Mary Oliver, Amber Tamblyn, and as of lately, I’ve been catching up on Pamela Gemin’s work. I love writers with sure voices, and reading so much of these writers’ poetry has helped me to find my own.
Do you have a blog/website?
I do; it can be found here: http://chasingthegrey.com/
It’s fairly bare right now but I’m working on posting more there soon.
Where can we read you next?
I have two poems slated for publication at Stone Path Review; I believe that’s to happen in the spring.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m just going through scraps from a project I took on with a few friends where we agreed to write every day for the entire year of 2013. I slacked a little, but I have quite a bit that I’m hoping to form new work from.
Any advice for other writers?
 
Don’t lose your nerve. It’s easy to get battered down with declines and whatnot, but the process of writing and getting your work out there is extremely rewarding. Also, develop a circle of people to help with editing and overall opinions. My work has grown so much in the past year and I attribute that to having eyes other than my own to help me ready my poems. I’d also highly recommend reading the poem “A Letter To David Matzke” from ‘Damned Ugly Children’ by Andrew Glaze; it’s full of bold advice for anyone wanting to say anything.
Do you find there’s any stigma being a writer from the South?
 
I do; to be honest, the stigma on the South goes far beyond literature, and it’s very unfair. We’re often viewed as ignorant folk who can only be trusted for a proper cornbread recipe. But I welcome the stigma, and am proud to be a writer from North Alabama. I feel like my work shows the charm and warmth we’re afforded down here, and I’d like for everyone to realize they ought to be envious, if anything.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d just like to thank you, Kevin, for giving my poems a home in Bop Dead City.

Our 2nd Annual Flash Fiction and Poetry Contest is On!

Last year, I decided to do a contest because it seemed like the thing to do. It’s why I still do them, to be honest. I usually pick a theme based on what I want to read about (summer, home, etc), but I’m making it a yearly tradition to celebrate our lightning-fast response times that Duotrope credits us with.

(If you’ve not using Duotrope, you’ve either never heard of it or you’re a cheap bastard. It’s only $5, and an incredibly valuable resource for writers. Just check them out).

Anyway, we’re ranked 18th for fiction at 2.8 days from submission to response (contest entries are ranked 9th at 2.1), and for poetry we’re ranked 7th (contests are 18th at 2.8). So…pretty goddamn fast. Along with a bunch of other goals for the magazine, I want to get all of those back to the top 10. It would help if I wasn’t such a slacker and let things slide for far too long (like announcing this contest, for starters). Here’s the specifics:

Prizes: $20 to the winner of the flash fiction category, and $20 to the winner of the poetry category.

Rules: For fiction, we’ll use Duotrope’s definition of flash fiction as “less than 1,000 words.” For poetry, we’ll use my made-up rule of 50 words or less. Plus, do everything that the usual submission guidelines say. Everything submitted until April 1 that follows these guidelines will be considered for the contest. And of course, even if your work isn’t within these parameters, we’ll still consider it for publication as usual.