Category: interviews

Women Writers We Love: Mary Sims

This week we have an interview with the lovely Mary Sims. We featured her poem “Lavender Lazarus” back in September of this year.  You can also find her latest poetry on Peach Mag and The Rising Phoenix Review. 

 

_DSC5729 (1)

What got you started as a writer?

I came across some horror books at a book-fair as a kid, and soon after I tried to write little horror stories of my own with friends. Eventually, I started moving away from plot-centered stories and became more interested in individual lines. 

Poetry turned out to be exactly what I was searching for. When I stumbled across Literary Twitter, I found poetry magazines and became immersed in the genre.  

Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? How does this inform the way you see/experience the world around you?

Poetry. It has the power to give things a second meaning and shows you countless perspectives. I believe it’s made me more empathetic and opened my eyes to ideas, forms, and styles I never thought possible.

Are there times in your life where you feel drawn to other styles? What draws you to them? Life events, moods?

Sometimes I do feel drawn to prose poetry or flash fiction. Poetry is beautiful in all its indirect complexities, but sometimes I want to read the direct nature that flash fiction or prose poetry deliver. Normally, I’m more drawn to these styles during hard times, when I know a certain piece will give me a specific feeling I am craving. It can be nice to address things directly at times rather than trying to piece together meaning indirectly.

Who are you reading right now?

Kristin Chang’s Past Lives, Future Bodies, and Louise Glück’s Vita Nova. I love how Kristin Chang plays with form and language. She intertwines them in a way I hadn’t previously thought possible. She also plays with spacing in a way that gives each poem another level: an element I’ve tried to incorporate into my own writing.

Louise Glück’s ability to manipulate simple objects, such as plants, into large emotions is a skill I cannot read enough of. I spent the summer reading a collection of her first four books. I feel there is still so much I can learn from her about poetry and language. 

Can you tell us a quirky fun fact about yourself?

My friends say that in everything I do, I have a grandma style. For example, when when we go shopping, a lot of times I’ll choose the skirt with the couch print you’d find in your grandmother’s house. There’s just something hypnotic and comforting about the oddness of the patterns. This goes double for any floral sweater I’ve come across. 

You can follow Mary on Twitter @rhymeofblue.

Women Writers We Love: Erin Wilson

Did you read Sex With You is a Strange Violin? Then meet the woman behind the poem— Erin Wilson! We wanted to find out what makes her tick, what inspires her, who she reads and more. Read our latest interview with the talented Erin Wilson.

What inspires me most?

Nature, art, language, the body, strange correlations. Language. Did I say language?

Who are your favorite women writers?

This has been an interesting question to consider. I have a deep attraction to male poets with what could be deemed a feminine spirit (a willingness to express themselves vulnerably) like Rilke, Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Gilbert or César Vallejo in his Human Poems. It took me a moment to recognize the female poets I admire, but once I recalled the first name, the rest came through in a rush, Sharon Olds, Margaret Atwood, Pat Lowther, Alix Cléo Roubaud, Wisława Szymborska and Marina Tsvetaeva, to name a few. And while Sarah Moon is primarily a photographer, her narrations of film are agitated poetic sessions which leave one breathless. (Which calls to mind the writer Clarice Lispector. See how this goes? Once the list begins, there is little stopping. And isn’t Francesca Woodman a poet with her camera?) What is interesting to me about these female writers is that they are writers with extreme courage. And so I begin to recognize just now that it is this synthesis that is most attractive and powerful for me, a merging of vulnerability with steadfastness.

What does your writing process look like?

Every morning I wake to read. And I read in order to become awake. Really, there could be no writing without reading. I write every day or I am not myself; a sadness descends upon me. Reading and writing, this is home for me. And so I carry books with me everywhere I go. And if not books, paper and pen. And also, birdseed. (But that is for the birds.)

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Advice. I can’t imagine I have advice to give. Write!

What are you currently working on?

I write whatever it is that occurs to me to write in the moment. I don’t organize to write in terms of projects. However, I have a number of projects I am working on simultaneously. Perhaps some hard work, in conjunction with an editor who appreciates what it is that I would like to accomplish, might see the publication of a book of poems regarding the indomitable nature of woman, a second volume in praise of the natural world, and a third concerning the glint, gleam, glom and glimmering of being. Once again, a synthesis.

 

Check out Erin’s latest published pieces on her website here!

 

Women Writers We Love – Allison Thorpe

We got a chance to catch up with past contributor Allison Thorpe! (You can read her poems “The Last Time My Mother Baked Bread” and “Resolution” in our Winter 2017 collection ebook, available for purchase here.)  Her latest book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue is available for preorder through Finishing Line Press.  Find out what inspires Allison, her advice for women writers, and more!

What inspires you the most? 

I lived in rural Kentucky for many years, and nature was my constant inspiration.  When I moved to Lexington, I found motivation in the tremendous creative energy all around me:  the artists at the museum across the street, two bookstores (Brier Books and The Wild Fig) who continually hold readings and workshops, the woman who draws mandalas on the sidewalk, the colorful book benches from the Carnegie Center, the Buddha Babes, and all my writing groups. Lexington is a dynamic center of literary pursuits and encouragement.

PICWho are your favorite women writers?

I’m all over the board, and my catalog of women writers grows every day.  I do tend to gravitate toward Kentucky/Appalachian writers like Crystal Wilkerson, Ada Limon, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Jan Sparkman, and so many others.  I’m involved with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (the longest running literary festival of women in the nation and held in Lexington each September) which offers amazing women authors in a variety of genres.  I come away with armloads of books and more new favorites.  Currently, I am reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh which is beautifully disturbing.  I support women writers and am heartened by the variety of voices and stories.

What does your writing process look like? 

Being retired, I have the joy of writing every day.  I often have several projects going and see where my keyboard takes me when I sit down.  I’m someone who gets ideas when I should be sleeping, so I always have pen and paper close at hand.  That drowsy state just before or upon waking is a gold mine for me.  I can’t tell you how many poems have been born in those moments.  June is Lexington Poetry Month, and Accents Publishing challenges writers to post a poem a day.  It’s fun and exciting to read and respond to the work of others.  I love the chain reactions that arise. 

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Support each other!  Go to readings. Buy books.  Open those doors that allow women a voice.  I am a great believer in finding a writing partner or a writing group that will support and critique work.  Even joining a book club can be insightful to one’s own poetry. Feedback is vital and necessary.  I am also a great believer in revision, something I preached to my students over the decades. Revision is a good place to experiment with voice, with point of view, with language.

What are you currently working on?
At present, I am developing poems about Rosalind Franklin, a chemist who played a major role in the discovery of DNA.  I received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to research and write about her.  She is a fascinating woman who did not receive the recognition she deserved.  But who knows what other inspiration may come along?

book cover

You can preorder Allison Thorpe’s book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue here!

Women Writers We Love – Miss Macross

In this week’s interview, we are featuring the super awesome Miss Macross (AKA Sheena Carroll).  Her poem “False Cognates” was featured in June on DDR. Her book Miss Macross Vs. Batman was published recently by the CWP Collective Press. 

37736688_10160682147495322_9051137702186975232_n

What inspires you the most?

I find inspiration through connecting the alien to the deeply personal. Everyone finds their own ways to cope with trauma, mental health problems, and hard-to-process emotions. One of my coping mechanisms is to immerse myself in the strange and the unexplained (I’m especially influenced by unsolved mysteries). When I experience intense feelings (be it abuse flashbacks, grief, or crushing unrequited feelings), it best manifests in writing as a reflection of something bizarre with which I share no concrete connection. It reveals those feelings in a more novel way.

I also like looking for connections to the personal with nature and ritual; in particular, through tarot. I take a lot of inspiration from the imagery of the tarot (which more or less follow the tropes of the Hero’s Journey).

Who are your favorite women writers?

My favorite writers include Anna Akhmatova, Nnedi Okorafor, Banana Yoshimoto, Roxane Gay, Sylvia Plath, Shirley Jackson, Han Kang, and Kim Yideum.

I especially love and am influenced by women graphic novelists and manga-ka. Hagio Moto, Marjorie Liu, Rumiko Takahashi, and Riyoko Ikeda regularly inspire my poetry and writing with their engaging storytelling and beautiful art.

What does your writing process look like?

I write a little bit every day; I keep a daily poem journal on Google Docs so I can access it anywhere. I’d say maybe 10% of that writing goes into poems that I submit for publication. Most of the time it is incomprehensible rambles about my day, but sometimes there’s a gem of a line that I pull out and turn into something else.

I also write fiction, and am in the middle of developing a new routine of writing 3,000 words per week. That has been much more challenging and unpredictable.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

It’s normal to feel self-conscious about your work. Submit it to that lit mag you really like, anyway. As a creative writing workshop facilitator, I’ve worked with writers of many genders and the majority have shared similar levels of self-consciousness about their work. But I feel that women writers can be less likely to submit their work because of those feelings. I’ve certainly dealt with that block – it took me almost ten years to start submitting my poems and stories to magazines.

What are you currently working on?

Because I like to torture myself, I’m working on three separate projects. One is another short poetry collection, which I’m almost finished editing. I also have a short story collection. I’ve already submitted it to some presses that I love, but have recently considered expanding it from a chapbook to a full-length collection. The biggest goal I have the remainder of 2018 is completing the initial draft of my first novella, which combines my loves of sci-fi and unsolved mysteries.

Be sure to check out her book Miss Macross Vs. Batman! and follow her on Twitter @MissMacross.

Women Artists We Love: Savannah Loebig

We are switching it up this week. Instead of a writer, we have the very talented artist, Savannah Loebig.  We featured her art back in January 2017.  We got a chance to catch up with her and ask her a few questions about her process and what she’s working on now.  

What inspires you the most? 
 
There are a lot of things that inspire me. I can be inspired by how nice the day is or how well my plants are growing, but I can also be inspired by things I hear in the news and stories of other women. When I hear about other peoples struggles I’m reminded of my own and I’m able to use that in order to think about myself from a different perspective. 
 
savWho are your favorite women artists?
 
Oh my god there are so many. I love Sally Hewett, Stephanie Law, Caledonia Curry (Swoon), Soey Milk, Bunnie Reiss, Jaw Cooper, Lauren Brevner, Kelsey Beckett, Paloma Smith, the list could go on forever. 
 
What does your process look like? 
 
I’m constantly looking at art and getting inspiration on a daily basis. I have a folder with thousands of pictures of things that I find interesting. I wish I could say that I create every day but I don’t. I have a million different interests and things I want to do but I just have to take it one day at a time.
 
What advice do you have for fellow women artists? 
 
My advice would be to work as much as you can and to be involved in the local art scene. Also be aware what other artists are doing so that you can be as informed as possible when making your own work. Have a thick skin and apply to all the shows around you that fit with your work and go to gallery openings to meet people.
 
What are you currently working on?
 
I’m currently working on developing a body of work having to do with the female body and constraints surrounding it.
 

For more info about Savannah visit savannahloebig.com or check her out on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook