Tag Archives: Interview

Interview with Sarah Ann Winn

Sarah Ann Winn won our 2nd Annual Flash Poetry Contest with her poem “Sargasso Sea,” got published, and pocketed $20. You want twenty whole dollars too, and the dubious honor of publication in Bop Dead City? You’ve got less than a week to submit your best story or poem about the first time you…well, anything.

Hurry up.

Describe your work in 25 words or less.
I think my poems are all a variety of being carried away with an idea, usually in the direction of “what could be.”

Tell me about your poem “Sargasso Sea.”
“Sargasso Sea” is the result of a prompt I was given in a class that required us to write 79 poems in a semester. This prompt gave the title, and suggested it be a certain number of lines. (I’ve since forgotten the full constraint.) I’d been doing a lot of reading about the plant life in the ocean, and that one struck me as full of mythic potential. I wanted to write a poem that used the ocean references in a fresh way, hoping for a sort of image echo between the massive drift of weeds and a field of grazing horses on a cloudless day.

Is this your first time winning a writing contest? How does it feel?
The same day I won this contest, I received notice that I’d won the Virginia Downs Poetry contest, and I’d never won a writing contest before. I was awarded the Completion Fellowship at George Mason for my final year there, but an individual work being recognized feels much more affirming!

What or who inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved to write, and have a daily routine to keep the inspiration close at hand. I also read widely, and when I start to struggle for inspiration, I grab my camera and go for a drive. Something about the somewhat mindless activity of driving combined with the search for something to frame pulls the poems a little closer. I find a lot of inspiration in conversations with my husband, who watches a lot of news stories. He always has something strange to share that gets me scribbling.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Elizabeth Bishop, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Federico Garcia Lorca, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Solnit, Natalie Goldberg, E.B. White, Mark Doty – the list is enormous. I have always loved to read, and as a children’s librarian, I return to the ones I loved growing up, so they continue to shape my writing now. Of course the authors who have had the most direct hand in shaping me as a writer are my teachers. Their encouragement and guidance have shaped my poems and my poetics, particularly Jennifer Atkinson, Eric Pankey and Judyth Hill.

Do you have a blog/website?
I do! I post writing prompts and photos about once a month at bluebirdwords.com.

Where can we read you next?
My poem “The Horsehead Nebula” is in the current issue of Stirring. I have a particular fondness for this one, because it was written right after “Sargasso Sea,” and uses the form of a beautiful in-law (which requires every word in the poem to come from the letters in the title). I also have upcoming poems in [d]ecember and the Massachusetts Review.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on poems which I hope will become my second book. They’re inspired by my love of children’s literature, especially stories I read as a child. My manuscript, entitled “Variable Stars” is submitted all around the web, and I have high hopes that it’ll get picked up.

Any advice for other writers?
Don’t take rejection personally, and read as much as you can! Also, if you don’t already have one, find a group online or offline who will be with you in your submission highs and lows. I’m part of a great group on Facebook, who cheer me on, and boo and hiss at Tuesday (rejection day).

Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for the opportunity, and I’m happy to have had the thrill of my first contest winner with Bop Dead City!

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Interview with Ruben Rodriguez

Time for another interview, if only to prove to readers and issue buyers that I don’t always slack. We’re talking with Ruben Rodriguez, winner of Issue 7’s Flash Fiction Contest, and it wasn’t even close this time around. An unmentioned fact is that in lieu of prize money cash, he wanted to be paid in issues. Such a darling.

Also, full disclosure, we are related. (This joke plays better if you know my last name and can see how pale, pale, pale I am). Well, somewhere down the line we are, but then again, aren’t all of us? Anyway, here he is.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Focused. Leaping.

Tell me about your story “Inheritance.”

I wanted to see how much of a relationship I could build over a short stretch of page. The subject matter is a bit gruesome, but I wrote it, so I guess that’s my fault. I was thinking about the extremes of thrift and burning the end of a rope. One thing led to another and I had ended up with a corpse on my hands. The final image is a personal favorite. It’s the only one in the story I can say is in any way autobiographical. I really wanted to give the reader the notion of closure. I don’t know if that comes across, but let’s pretend that it does, and I’ll concede that we are talking about an itty-bitty door.

Is this your first time winning a writing contest? How does it feel?

This is not the first contest I have one, but it is the first time that the prize included publication.

I’m stoked. It’s cool to show people you name in print. It’s the final validation for a story. Someone else in the world has said, Yes, people should read this. And that’s always nice.

What or who inspires you to write?

I do it because I have a good relationship with my subconscious. I like it and its indifferent about me. I’m always curious as to what I’ll write. I try not to give it too much thought. This is not to say I’m driving blindly through a corn maze, but I have been part of a backyard-corn-maze-project and I am a terrible driver with worse vision. I think it is important for people to be in the business of creating, not for any monetary gain, but for the opportunity to increase their humanity.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

This question makes me sit funny in my chair. No Direction Home turned me on to Ginsberg, who led to Kerouac. The two pushed Burroughs, and though I wouldn’t call my style of writing Beatifik, Burroughs’s epigraph in Cities of the Red Night “Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted” is the basis on which I write my stories. Vonnegut lights up my brain. Ron Arias’s The Road to Tamazunchale stirred something in me recently. Aimee Bender blows my socks off, but I’m extremely jealous of her ability, so let’s not talk about that. There are others with stranger and some what impossible to follow connections, but I’d hate to bore everyone.

Do you have a blog/website?

No.

Where can we read you next?

I have stories coming out in The Sand Canyon Review and Badlands. If you really got a hankering Black Heart Magazine and theNewerYork have a few of my stories in their online archives.

What are you working on right now?

Too much. The heart of it is a collection of short stories. They explore the absurdist/surreal quadrants of my brain. I’m inclined to drive myself to utter madness over the summer and dive into a longer project, but let’s keep that labeled as speculative for the time being. I am also excited to start work on The Great American Literary Magazine, a new online journal. Check it out.

http://www.thegreatamericanlitmag.com/

Any advice for other writers?

It only happens if you do it.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I saw some people hang-gliding today. I saw someone work a cleaver. And I listed to some Nina Simone. I also broke my comb.


Interview with Tom Weller

Our latest interview is with the writer Tom Weller, who contributed the story “Lightning Woman” to our last issue.  To read it and lots of other great, important works that will keep you up with the zeitgeist, buy a copy of Issue 7.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Whimsy, meet despair,   Despair, meet whimsy.  Now dance.

 

Tell me about your story “Lightning Woman.”

Years ago I read interviews with novelist Harry Crews in which he described how while growing up poor in the South the Sears catalogue was one of his greatest sources of entertainment. He would flip through the catalogue creating characters out the models, complete with dark secrets hiding under their shiny veneers, and create stories by imagining these characters interacting.  I now do this with strangers’ Facebook pages.

“Lightning Woman” started when I found pictures of a dog’s birthday cake on Facebook.  The story pretty much took off from there, fueled by a desire to experiment with fabulist and fairy tale elements.

What or who inspires you to write?

Lots of things. Old pictures and advertisements from circuses and sideshows. Dear Abby letters. Peanuts comic strips. Fragments of conversations I hear while eavesdropping. Pro wrestling shows, especially from the late 80s. Extended and surprising metaphors and similes in hip hop lyrics. I also spend a lot of longish runs thinking about and refining drafts of stories.

 

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Many of the superstars: Flannery O’Connor, Raymod Carver, Tobias Wolfe, Sherman Alexie, Stuart  Dybeck, Gabriel Garcia Márquez.  Lewis Nordan’s Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair was the first short story collection I ever loved.  I reread Junot Diaz’s Drown every couple of years.  Aimee Bender short stories always surprise me in good ways.

 

Do you have a blog/website?

I don’t have a website or blog, but anybody who is really curious can find me on Facebook and we can become weird internet friends. That’s a good way to get updates on my publications and writing projects, and to know every time I’ve gone for a run, and see pictures of my dog.

 

Where can we read you next?

My short story “Mrs. Cinnamon” recently went up at Paper Darts.  My short story “Ponko Returns” is forthcoming in Phantom Drift.

 

What are you working on right now?

A series of stories inspired by entries in old editions of The Guinness Book of World Records.


Interview with Rhiannon Thorne

It’s the time of the season for interviews, and they should be trickling in fairly steady now. In the meantime, keep up the submissions, people: at this rate Issue 8’s going to be double sized.

Our first interview is with Rhiannon Thorne, who gave us two poems for Issue 7: “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” and “Small Hands.” As you can tell from her picture, she likes beer.

A lot.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Mostly autobiographical and stylistically eclectic.

Tell me about your poems “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” and “Small Hands.”

Long story short, Kate Hammerich and I met on the internet, then later in person. “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” chronicles our first in-person meet-up, when I was the shy hobbyist and she the published poet, whereas “Small Hands” comes much later, during her first great illness, when I flew to IL to spend a weekend singing her Shakira. These are both happier moments plucked from a rocky couple of years of cancer, incarceration, the distance of state lines, and a slew of other curve-balls.

What or who inspires you to write?

The usual suspects: love, loss, current events, the work of other poets, or you know, the glory. I go through periods of time where I write several poems a day and my inspirations are more arbitrary, and then other times where I write one poem every few months and it’s because of some momentous life event – but rarely do I sit down to write something specific and I certainly can’t pull inspiration out of a random prompt.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?
It’s an extensive list, but off the top of my head: da levy, Maxine Kumin, Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes, and Pablo Neruda. I’m also really influenced by specific publishers, and the feel of the manuscripts they publish, such as: flipped eye publishing, CavanKerry, Toadlilly, Words Dance, Blue Begonia, and Milkweed Editions.

Do you have a blog/website?

rhiannonthorne.com is where you’ll find a list of my publications and the occasional blog, but mostly I use it to track what I’ve been reading. I’m more reachable by email: rhiannon_thorne@live.com.

Where can we read you next?

Existere and Grasslimb should both be coming out soon – Existere is publishing a poem inspired by Anne Sexton, and Grasslimb, one inspired by Ted Hughes. I’ve had other poems appear recently at Up The Staircase, Melancholy Hyperbole, Words Dance, and Foundling Review if you want to find my poems on the net.

What are you working on right now?

I went through a huge writing spurt last year, but so far this year have only written one poem. Mostly, I’ve been editing, a lot. I’ve also been putting more time into the publication (cahoodaloodaling) Kate and I started in 2012, which has been really gratifying. I’m also working on reading through a huge stack of books on my shelf, because I completely agree with what Dan Sicoli said last round of interviews, “for every word you write, read a thousand more.”

Any advice for other writers?

Kill your babies.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Seriously, kill your babies.


Issue 6’s Last Interview and Issue 7’s Last Day

Today’s the last day to submit your poem or story and have it be considered for Issue 7, so keep adding to the deluge that’s hit my inbox in the past 48 hours. Also, to tide you over until Issue 7’s been released, here’s our interview with Jennifer Jackson Berry.

THIS ONE

Describe your work in 25 words or less:

My work is my truth. And to paraphrase Muriel Rukeyser, I want to split the world open with it.

Tell me about your poem “Another Poem About Infertility:”

The first stanza was in my head for a long time. Once I finally got it out of my head, the rest came quickly. I liked the “this, until not this” construction as a way to try to make sense of the perplexing issue of infertility, as well as the word “another” in the title pointing to the idea that dealing with infertility is often a long, drawn out process. I gave the poem to a writer-friend for his critique, and he said this doesn’t have to be an infertility poem. It’s just a great sex poem. But at the time I wrote it, the two were intertwined too deeply for me to not direct the reader with the title.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

There were three collections that were very important to me in my early college years, when I first started writing poetry seriously: Mad River by Jan Beatty, Girl Soldier by Denise Duhamel, and Satan Says by Sharon Olds. All three women continued on in their own careers to write many more stunning collections, each one inspiring in its own way.

Do you have a blog/website?

I try to maintain a tumblr: http://www.jaxnberry.tumblr.com, but don’t always do that much with it. I’m always on facebook though: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.j.berry.

Where can we read you next?

My e-chapbook When I Was a Girl was just published with Sundress Publications (http://sundresspublications.com/echaps.htm). I have poems appearing in upcoming issues of Cider Press Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Lilliput Review, and Iodine Poetry Journal, as well as the online feature Chapter & Verse of the Pittsburgh City Paper.

What are you working on right now?

I’m revising my full length manuscript, tentatively titled To the Pith; I hope to send it out to contests and open readings periods in the next few months.

Any advice for other writers?

Find a community! The act of writing is often a solitary, lonely experience, but I rely on my fellow writers to find sanity.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you to Bop Dead City and Kevin Rodriguez for giving a home to my poem.


Interview with Dan Sicoli

Dan gave Bop Dead City his excellent poem “In,” and, if the interview is tl; dr for you, then please just visit his wonderful Slipstream Press at http://www.slipstreampress.org/. They’re painfully legit.

 

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

I hope it’s cinematic–that is, imagistic free verse–grounded in place whether it be physical, emotional or psychological. And a little mysterious, at times.

Tell me about your poem “In.”

I see the piece as somewhat of an exploration of a lover deluded by his infatuation with a woman he believes he is “in” love with. She remains aloof and distant and uses him when it’s convenient for her to fill in her own emptiness and needs. He misinterprets this as real love and thinks he’s “in” with her. She may be longing for another’s unrequited love and thus is depressed, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled.

Of course, other interpretations are welcome and probably more interesting.

What or who inspires you to write?

Well, inspiration can come from everywhere–real life events, family situations, arguing neighbors, a hound howling in middle of the night, a dented car, a painting, a news item, an injustice, another poem…

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Oddly, it’s more than just authors. The work of the following individuals (in no particular order) have sparked something in me to write: Shakespeare, Bukowski, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, John Fante, Salvatore Dali, John Steinbeck, Martin Scorsese, George Carlin, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, e.e. cummings, John Coltrane, Robert Service, John Lennon, Picasso, Homer, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Richard Braudigan, Neil Young, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Paul Kelly… 

Do you have a blog/website?

No, but you can find the small press magazine I co-edit at: www.slipstreampress.org.

Where can we read you next?

I have some stuff upcoming with Snail Mail Review, Architrave, and Santa Fe Literary Review.

What are you working on right now?

Besides my kitchen, more pieces and re-writes.

Any advice for other writers?

For every word you write, read a thousand more.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Give your $upport to the small/micro presses–like Bop Dead City and others.

 

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