Tag: interviews

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. 

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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 Writers We Love – Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Time for another interview with the lovely Sneha Subramanian Kanta! Her poem “Recovery” was featured on Dying Dahlia in January 2016.  Read about what inspires her, her excellent advice for fellow women writers and more.  Also, find out how you can read Sneha’s micro-chapbook, Synecdoche. It’s a must read!

Sneha-AuthorPhotoWhat inspires you the most? 

Narratives that have been long ignored by the world at large are of major interest to me as an academician and someone that engages with the written word. What moves me is the organic constitution of oral literature and the manner in which it has prevailed for decades. I’m interested in literature as being an alternate form of history. I’m very influenced by my maternal grandmother and mother. They were two strong women in my life and their lives have been nothing short of an inspiration to me. The legacy of kindness they’ve left behind continues to be an influence, as does everything they did for society. Their contributions to my life remain magnanimous.

Who are your favorite women writers?

There are many. A few names would be Akka Mahadevi, Rassundari Devi, Savitribai Phule, Amrita Pritam, Imtiaz Dharker, Arundhati Roy, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Tarfia Faizullah, Tracy Smith, Sharon Olds, Patricia Smith, Fatima Asghar, Chelsea Dingman, Kelli Russell Agodon. At this juncture, I must also recommend the books Women Writing in India—Part I and II. It is seminal in the sense of its extensive scope and research. The practice of this project is central in the recovery of voices from the South East Asian continent. It speaks to us from across centuries: from the voices of Buddhist nuns, or theris, and their songs, recorded as terigathas in the 6th century BC to more modern selections. The book is also important in the narratives it carries: Rassundari Devi, for instance, learned the alphabet by tearing pages from the notebooks of her children. She practiced writing them with charcoal inside a dimly lit kitchen, over walls. She later wrote her autobiography, titled ‘Amar Jiban’ in Bengali. These narratives speak to me of resilience and a certain detachment from the world.

What does your writing process look like? 

I’m quite disciplined about writing. I make sure to write, edit and spend some time with drafts regularly. I engage with reading extensively as I believe it is vital to read for as much time as one may accommodate for the practice in the day.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Mostly— it is indispensable to be kind to each other. I love when women support one another as it is my belief that one rises only by raising another’s voice. We have incredible journeys, each one of us, and I am filled with admiration every time I encounter stories where women have been enablers of beautiful things for each other.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m working on my next collection at the moment alongside research. I’m also very interested in culinary skills and have been practicing the intersection of newer vegetarian recipes with good health. I’ve also been a mountaineering enthusiast and after a major hiking trail in 2015, I plan to undertake another in 2019.

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For more information and to download Synecdoche (for free!) visit here.  And be sure to visit her Goodreads page here and leave some love.

Women Writers We Love: Ehlayna Napolitano

We have a very special interview this week with our own associate editor, Ehlayna Napolitano!  Her chapbook, penelope in the morning, was released earlier this year.  Find out a little more about Ehlayna including what inspires her, what she’s been reading lately and more!

E.Napolitano Headshot

What inspires you the most? 

What inspires me the most is the experience of personhood and the vulnerability that is necessarily attached to it. I am fortunate to have a group of friends who are joyously, beautifully, generously open and vulnerable with their emotions, their experiences, and their love. They have been a huge source of inspiration for me. Trying to figure out what being a person means, and how to do it, for myself, and attempting to give language to feelings that are not simply categorized, is what inspires me to keep going. Mostly because it’s weird! It’s weird to be a person, and sometimes I can only navigate that in poetry.

Who are your favorite women writers?

At the moment, I’ve been reading Maggie Nelson’s work, which has quickly become some of my favorite work I’ve ever read. I also really enjoyed Liz Bowen’s, “Sugarblood.” It’s hard to pick just one or two favorites, though! These are just the ones I’ve read most recently.

What does your writing process look like?  

I don’t write every day. I usually try to write at least once a week, but there are times I’ll sit down and immediately have three poems down on paper, and some days I’ll feel something start to take shape in my mind, but won’t be able to get more than a few words down. I try to let the writing come out in its own time.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

I don’t feel like I’m in a position to give anyone advice, so this is a tough question. I’m still figuring out what my own process is, what my voice is, what art I want to make. I’m still new to the game!

So, I suppose my advice to them would be the reminder I try to give myself when I’m writing: don’t be afraid to give all your ideas to a single piece of work. There will be more ideas, and your drive to write won’t disappear. You can lay it all out on the table and still come back to it the next day.

What are you currently working on? 

Right now, I’m trying to focus on creating more and submitting more frequently. I have a few larger project ideas that are long-term goals, but in the short-term, I’m just trying to write more and focus on improvement over anything else.

Women Writers We Love – Alarie Tennille

This week we catch up with Alarie Tennille, author of Waking on the Moon.  Her poem Still With Me was featured on Dying Dahlia in October 2016.

Tennille

What inspires you the most? 

I’m inspired by many things, from family memories to quirky news, but looking at art is my surest cure for writer’s block. I’ve learned that art without a strong narrative works best for me, even abstract works I don’t understand. It’s easier to create something new when I’m not rehashing a Bible story or Greek myth that the painter has already told. Reading is also a great inspiration.

Since I retired five years ago, I honor my biorhythm and stay up to the wee hours when the house is quiet. My cats and I commune with the moon. My latest poetry collection, Waking on the Moon (Kelsay Books, April 2017) pays homage to Luna for her help, even though it also contains my usual art and family poems.

Who is your favorite woman writer?

I adore so many women writers. A few of my favorite poets are Jo McDougall, Jane Kenyon, Andrea Hollander, Maryfrances Wagner, Margaret Atwood, Lucille Clifton, and my critique group, Tina Hacker and Teresa Leggard.

What does your writing process look like? 

Because I’m a night owl, I write mostly after 10:00 p.m. I don’t pressure myself to write every day since I did that for almost 30 years on the job. Retirement gives me more leisure. (Leisure means reading.) I do look for ideas every day. If I go more than a week without writing a poem, I force myself to sit down with paper and at least try. That rarely fails me. My critique group tells me I’m prolific. They wouldn’t be happy if I brought in 30 poems each month.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

My advice to all writers is the same. READ. Too many people fancy themselves as poets when they don’t read good poetry. By reading, you learn a lot about the craft and what you may be doing wrong. When you discover poets who write the way you want to write, cultivate them. Often the journals where they publish will also like you.

My second piece of advice is to join or start a CRITIQUE GROUP or at least find a couple of readers willing to tell you when a poem goes astray. It’s important that you find a group that suits you. They should be honest and offer helpful suggestions without making you give up hope. My group has only three writers, which is the ideal number for me. Too many poets can cause more confusion than help.

Women are more likely to feel all the family organizing and nurturing falls on their shoulders, so they often have trouble carving out time to write. Set aside some time twice a week if every day is too difficult. The good news is that most writing happens in your head. You can plan what you want to say between errands. If I think about a poem for a few days before I get to paper, the writing goes more smoothly.

What are you currently working on? 

My next poetry collection started before the last one was published. Each new book begins with poems published too late to go into the previous book. Once I collect 20 or so, I inspect them for common themes to see how to direct more writing to the project. I’m also going to try publishing some poetry reviews in 2018.

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For more information on Alarie, visit her website at AlariePoet.com.