Interview: Venus Davis

This week, I got to sit down with Venus Davis (@venusbeanus) for a chat about her creative process and her new project, Periwinkle Literary Magazine. Read the interview below!

What is your favorite creative medium?

Honestly, I’m a vers when it comes to creative mediums. I thought I just loved poetry and that is what comes most naturally to me as a writer. However, I find that I just love to write and any form is perfect for that. So, I’m a lover of all written forms.

What do you love about writing, in general?

I just love being able to express myself and potentially reach other people who are feeling or have felt the same things as me. Being able to connect with other people is one of the biggest reasons that I am still writing. It means alot to be able to get my feelings out for myself and to feel grounded etc. However, I have been touched by the words of other writers and I hope that people find the same peace and understanding in my work too.

Are there any themes or emotions that you find yourself consistently returning to in your work?

I often write with spiritual imagery or imagery that is spiritual to me such as astrology, gemstones, tarot, etc. I find myself writing about heartbreak, romanticism, both platonic and romantic love, and finding my true self.

How do you begin your creative process?

I begin by word vomiting on the page. It helps me get all of my ideas out and into the world. Then, from there, I weed out the unnecessary phrases and words. After I have a draft of a piece done, I like to write notes to myself for how I can improve said piece. Then, I sit on the piece for a few weeks and don’t touch it or even think about it. Often, if I return to the piece before that, I’ll second guess myself and delete well written phrases and imagery. Whereas, if I return to the piece after a few weeks, I’ve almost forgotten all previous criticisms.

Do you write on a laptop/computer/etc. when you are outside or do you prefer a more pen-to-paper method?

I tend to write on receipt paper at work and conceptualize my ideas while I’m out running errands or working. Then, when I finally have downtime, I go home and type up the finished product. I prefer pen-to-paper just because it’s easier to not focus on the structure of what I’m writing and get my raw ideas on paper. However, it’s just not as practical these days especially since I tend to lose things very easily.

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

Under a shady tree. I feel so drawn to nature and the outdoors and I just love writing outside on a spring or summer day when it’s not too hot and not too cold. Being able to connect with nature is very important to me as a person. I don’t really have the chance to meditate because I have major anxiety but sitting under a tree and writing is as close as I can get to meditation.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

I actually can’t listen to music when I create because I get too distracted! I have to create in silence because if I play music, I end up singing and jamming out! It’s truly a curse.

Is there any kind of music that gets you into the mood to write?

Indie singer/songwriters like Frankie Cosmos, Girlpool, Soccer Mommy, and a few others really inspire me to write just because their lyrics are so personal or at least they seem awfully confessional to me. So, I tend to hear their music and think, “Wow, I want to write poems like that!”.

What piece of literature (i.e. CNF, poetry, short story, novel, collection, etc.) set you on fire most recently and why?

What I Like About You by Marissa Kanter. It’s a young adult novel about a girl named Halle who lives this double life as a famous book blogger/ high school student. The book really delves into the twitter literary scene and publishing world in a way that I’ve never seen another book do. Honestly, I wish the book were around when I was a teenager because I think I would’ve thought about my dream job a lot sooner which is to work in publishing.

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?

Marias at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose Magazine, Brave Voices Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow, and Crepe and Penn. These are the mags that I follow the closest because they publish such strong unique work. I also love how easy it was for me when I first got into literary twitter last year to connect with the mastheads of these magazines. It’s important to connect with your readers and especially new folx in the literary scene. The mastheads of these magazines were so supportive to me and my journey as a writer. Since I’ve stepped onto the literary scene, I’ve been reading their works and supporting them and I love that some of them have done the same for me.

Where is one place that every person who considers themselves a “creative type” needs to travel to and why?

A small midwestern town because what else can you do but create when there is literally nothing to do but visit Walmart or take a walk?

Do you have any small, midwestern towns in mind when you say that?

I can give Kent, Ohio and Hiram, Ohio as examples just because I’ve lived in both places. However, I can’t speak for any other small midwestern towns because I’ve only lived in the aforementioned places. Though, any place where you can really only hang out at night at Walmart will do.

What advice would you give to your younger self about the creative process?

“Don’t stop writing just because you haven’t received recognition for being a “good” writer! That’s normal when you’re first starting out or when you’re a kid. Just because someone else writes “better” than you do, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write. It just means you have different styles. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.”

You recently started Periwinkle Mag. What was your inspiration for doing that?

Initially, I wanted to start a literary magazine after I had a certain number of publications and a lot of literary “street cred”. However, in November, after much encouragement, I just bit the bullet and decided to start a literary magazine. The name comes from Pablo Picasso’s blue period + rose period. It’s intended to reflect sad girl energy and beautiful yet grotesque imagery like a rose that pricks you with it’s thorn. I wanted to create a platform for writers like me who may have no formal education or little formal education as a writer. I see a ton of mags for college students and students of any variety and that’s nice but ultimately, unfair to people who can never be students. I wanted to create a platform for people to succeed regardless of education. Yet, I wanted to give opportunities for folx of that nature to hone their craft more. Thus, why we have so many editors and why we have a nonprofit counterpart, The Right to Write Project, for free/pay as you can workshops for writers. Our main focus is accessibility and that comes from writing workshops/conferences/festivals/classes being so inaccessible for me. So, the concept for Periwinkle Literary Magazine mainly stemmed from wanting to support other writers in a different way than what I was used to at the time.

What kinds of things are you hoping to publish with the magazine?

I hope to publish confessional works and abstract daydream kind of poems. Really, anything that has a strong focus on imagery and honesty.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m taking things slow and working mostly on editing. However, deeply in the background of my life, I have a full length that I’m working on tentatively called “Human Waterfall”. Though, the title is subject to change. It’s just about my life as a twenty something and is intended to be sort of a coming of age chapbook that all womxn and nonbinary femmes in their early twenties may be able to relate to – sort of like Lorde’s melodrama!

Where can we find more of your work/projects?

I’m working on putting my works onto my website, venusdavis.squarespace.com. However, for now, you can find my work in a thread on my twitter profile page. It’s not the most professional thing but it’s there, nonetheless.

Venus Davis is a 21-year-old queer writer from Cleveland, Ohio. She is the editor in chief of the Periwinkle Literary Magazine. She is also a former poetry reader for Random Sample Review and a podcaster for Prismatica Magazine. Her work as been featured in Marias at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose Magazine, Ayaskala, Dream Noir, Crepe and Penn, and many other publications. She is the author of Sensitive Divination, an astrology microchapbook as well as the microchapbooks, Blue and @ngel number(s).  You can find her on social media @venusbeanus.

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