Interview: Charlotte Hamrick

This week, I got to speak with Charlotte Hamrick about emotion in the creative process, her love of poetry, and more! Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in The Rumpus, Literary Orphans, Connotation Press, Eunoia Review, and numerous other journals. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a Finalist for the 15th Glass Woman Prize for her Creative Non-Fiction. Currently, she serves as the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Barren Magazine. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets.

What is your favorite creative medium?

Poetry

What do you love about poetry?

It just comes naturally. It’s the form my daydreaming, anxiety, or rage takes when I write. I love free form poetry because the only “rules” are ones you impose on yourself. It’s truly the most liberating and creative process for me.

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

I write a lot about my relationships with people I love or people who have made an imprint on my life. I think that’s why I also write and love Creative Nonfiction. I think a lot about my life and experiences, what I’ve done wrong and why, what I’ve done right. What I hope to do. 
I like writing about the natural world and how it’s often a kind of medicine when I’m soul-sick or just tired of living in a frenzied world. On my blog I’ve written a series off and on for years called “Morning Meditation” that focuses on the natural world. Maybe one day I’ll put together a chapbook. 

How do you begin your creative process?

I rarely have deliberate writing sessions. When inspiration hits I write. When I’m pissed off I write. When a phrase or idea comes to me I write it down and I’ll visit this list when I’m composing a poem. Sometimes something will happen, sometimes not. I never force it since I realized that doesn’t work for me. So I guess my process is haphazard and spontaneous.

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

In my bedroom on my bed because I’m surrounded by my favorite things, the bed is comfy, and it’s quiet.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

I rarely have music on because I find it distracting. When I listen to music I really listen, so it takes my mind away from the writing.

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

Jericho Brown’s The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) because it has such honesty, fire, and grace. Because it taught me so much about opening up in your writing and that’s something I need to do more. Because he’s a Southern writer and I love the Southern references and nuances. Finally, because he’s a human being unafraid of showing his human-ness.

I know you recently interviewed Jericho Brown for Barren Magazine. What was the most important thing that you learned from that experience?

That sometimes you get a “yes” when you least expect it. Sometimes we assume that people with his level of recognition won’t be receptive if you reach out. I fully expected not to hear back from him but I was wrong. Jericho was very open and giving, making me admire him more. And, of course, I loved hearing his take on poetry.  

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?

Well, of course I’m going to say Barren Magazine, lol. Because Barren has opened a new facet of literature and writing for me. I love reading the diverse writers who send their babies to us and I love working with the writers. Other zines I read most regularly are SWWIM, Foliate Oak, Bitter Southerner, The Oxford American, Milk Candy Review, Literary Orphans, Pidgeonholes because they always have stellar writing.

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

New Orleans because it’s one of the world’s most unique cities with a diversity of people, ideas, cultures, and creativity. It steps to its own beat.

Is there any nook in New Orleans that you would recommend to fellow writers in particular?

Well, it’s not exactly a nook but I’d recommend coming to The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival which is actually happening right now. It’s so interesting with readings, panels, history walks, plays, music, and a Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest on the last day. So many cool things to see and do. You can learn about it at TennesseeWilliams.net. 

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

Don’t place expectations on yourself. Just let your creativity flow naturally.

What are you currently working on? This is a space for you to brag a little– what are your most recent pubs, etc.

I’m looking forward to NaPoWriMo in which I participate every year. It’s a great way to practice and connect with other poets, and it gives me a little structure. I write on my WordPress blog and I most often use the prompts from napowrimo.net. Besides that, right now I’m looking through my work, editing existing poems. My most recent poems can be found in Burning House Press, Nine Muses Poetry, and Nightingale and Sparrow. I have poetry coming soon in Foliate Oak, Muddy River Poetry Review, and MORIA.

What is your blog URL? 

https://zouxzoux.wordpress.com/

Review: Candy Cigarette

16 is sacrifice. Serpents seek skin. Sequestration a season, and then they begin — reptilian gazes, demon enchantment, sheepskin, diabolists who crave consumption within. You are an entrance. Composition is doors, all orifices, indefensible pores.

– From “An Entrance is Not an Exit”

In her latest full-length collection, Candy Cigarette: Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019)poet Kristin Garth offers an intimate, raw look into her former life as a stripper in the deep south. Following her recent, heart-wrenching collection, Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), Candy Cigarette navigates the ups and downs of finding power in life during and after trauma.

Garth doesn’t just play with the Madonna/Whore dynamic, she obliterates it. Her speaker is simultaneously 16 and 25, victim and victor. She harnesses power through the commodification of her body, even as she acknowledges the self-effacement that can happen when one becomes a product for consumption.

Candy Cigarette is exactly like the title suggests: darkly sweet, richly important, and doused in the smell of old bourbon, jolly ranchers, and cigarette smoke.

Candy Cigarette is available for regular pre-order here.

Interview: Jason Stoneking

This week, I got to do both an audio and written interview with Jason Stoneking. He had some incredible thoughts about the creative process and pressures around the publishing industry. Jason is a writer and performing artist. He has published 2 volumes of poetry and four collections of essays, and performed in various ways for more than 25 years. Currently, Jason is working on a conceptual writing project in which he writes entire individual books for people by hand. You can listen to our conversation or read the initial interview below.

What is your favorite creative medium?

Poetry / Epistolary / Journaling

What do you love about those media?

I’m attracted to ideas that don’t easily fit within the traditional structures of fiction or nonfiction. And I’m interested in the intimacy and authenticity of capturing thoughts at an early stage in their development and sharing them with the reader before they’re more formulated.

How do you begin your creative process? For instance, if you are a writer, how do you get into a writing session?

My favorite headspace to write from is the one just emerging from sleep. I like to wake up early and alone, and let my dreamstate linger in the morning silence, where it can influence my writing before I start taking in too much outside input and sliding back into my day-to-day conscious thoughts. If I have to start later in the day, I begin by just clearing some mental space. I turn off all devices, and maybe take a long shower, or a walk, or a nap, to let my mind wander into its own territory before I pick up the pen.

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

I can write almost anywhere, as long as I don’t have any direct distractions. But I suppose my favorite places are in transit. I love to write in airports, in bus stations, on trains. In those transient, non-spaces between defined realities.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

I often write in total silence. But depending on what I’m writing, I can sometimes work with classical, jazz, or psychedelic rock. The most important thing is that it can’t have lyrics. I can’t write while I’m listening to someone else’s words.

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

I recently spent a few months reading everything I could find by Clarice Lispector. She had the most invigorating way of diving into any depth, or exploding into any kind of conceptual space, without ever being constrained by preconceptions of genre or by self-consciousness. Discovering her work has been extremely liberating for me.

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?

There’s so much out there now that it can be a bit overwhelming. I mostly try to support local publications that feature people from my community, because I think that’s important. Paris Lit Up is one that consistently features a good blend of established and emerging writers and artists with connections to Paris.

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

Wherever is farthest away from their own comfort zone and the things that they’re used to taking for granted. Creativity isn’t helped by confirming the same ideas over and over. To see further, we need to have our assumptions rocked, and our perspectives widened as much as possible. This could mean traveling to the other side of the world, or just to the living room of someone on your street that you can’t imagine talking to.

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

To never hesitate out of fear, or worry about public reaction. To write everything I was curious about writing. To give less attention to the opinions of my peers, and more attention to my relationship with the eternal.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a project I call Bespoke Books, in which I write entire unique books, by hand, in a single draft, for individual recipients. Each person who commissions a book receives the only copy of a text written specifically for them, along with the rights to share it or keep it private, as they wish. It’s like a cross between a journal and a letter. A long, intimate text addressed to a specific person and written by hand. It’s a lot of work, but I’m inspired by the intimacy of the exchange, as well as the heightened stakes of creating a singular object.

Interview: Andrea Lambert

Andrea Lambert was kind enough to answer a few questions about creative process as part of the Luna Speaks Interview Series.
Andrea Lambert is the author of Jet Set Desolate, Lorazepam & the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles, and the chapbooks G(u)ilt and Lexapro Diary. Their writing has appeared in Luna Luna, OCCULUM, Grimoire and elsewhere. More information can be found on their website, andreaklambert.com.

What is your favorite creative medium?

I alternate working in multiple mediums: Novels. Plays. Creative non fiction. Flash fiction. Poetry. Mixed media oil painting. YouTube videos. Collage. My creative non fiction is most widely published, thus what I have am focusing on for now. I still write unpublished novel manuscripts for my own therapeutic amusement. There are terms in my will for them to be published after my death. Alternately, if anyone want to hack my iCloud and sell my unpublished works on the dark web, I would be honored. That’s some cult classic clout. Take this as an invitation, tech bros. As I can’t be paid, I would still like to be read.

What do you love about that medium (i.e. why do you create that way)?

What I love about creative nonfiction is the sheer brutal honesty. My life credo. Unavoidable tendency. I cannot tell a lie. All my work is based on reality. A mentally ill, unreliable narrator reality. In my occult writing: Luna Luna Magazine and Grimoire. The anthologies: Impact and Haunting Muses. I synthesize my Wicca practice and the tendencies of the voices in my head to present as ancestral or deceased domestic partner’s ghosts into paranormal creative nonfiction. My reality, my truth, is not as others.

How do you begin your creative process? For instance, if you are a writer, how do you get into a writing session?

If I am writing a play, I must first begin to auditorily hallucinate. Perhaps bought on by sleep deprivation or involuntary deprivation of prescribed antipsychotics. Happens. All of my plays are transcriptions of psychotic episodes. With auditory hallucinations presenting as multiple character dialogue. I am the only human in the drama. Get some very odd cameos. For my monthly food column for Entropy Magazine? Mental gears begin to turn throughout the month. Gathering gustatory material. Until the essay’s themes and topics are conceptualized. Finally, I brew a pot of coffee, sit down with my laptop and pound it out.

If you don’t mind me asking, how do you capture those hallucinations? Do you keep a notebook close by or are you able to remember?

Because I am on Disability, no job. The myriad psychiatric medications I take to manage my condition make driving a DUI on wheels in Nevada. Their pesky Oxytocin epidemic immobilizes legally prescribed patients, so I don’t drive. Therefore, I am pretty much always at home with time on my hands. Once the auditory hallucinations hit, I sit down immediately at my desk and start typing. 

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

I have a MacBook Pro 15 laptop, Although heavy, it is an excellent workhorse for someone prolific. My favorite place to work is an 2005 black and white IKEA desk. Bookshelves at my right. This ancestral home’s guardian ghosts hover all around me.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

While writing my novel, Jet Set Desolate, it was the RENT soundtrack. For a very long time between: Lana Del Rey. Lately Cardi B has stolen my ear with her badass swagger and confidence to do and say whatever she pleases. I am inspired by her to be more daring in my already transgressive work.

Do you find that what you are listening to sets the tone for what you end up writing?

With the RENT Soundtrack it did, because Jet Set Desolate’s urban drug addict demimonde intersected with the musical in multiple ways. When I lived in San Francisco doing all the cocaine, my friends and I once stumbled upon a part of South of Market closed off for RENT filming. When I watch the film I see the San Francisco mean streets of my youth.

However, as my writing has progressing in the ten years since. and become more creative nonfiction? I take the essence of what I am listening to rather than the content. Thus the benzodiazepine chill of Lana Del Rey led to relaxed recollections in a series of unpublished memoir novels. 

Cardi B’s ruthlessness, lack of fucks given and willingness to do and say whatever she wants become driving forces in my Entropy columns. Translated through my own life experiences. To her attitude I owe the “innocent bloodbath” scene at the end of my December Entropy essay: “Nip Slips for Christmas.” I drew a pentagram on the bathtub floor of my own saved menstrual blood. Summoned the Virgin Mary, Hecate, Jesus and Satan in Latin. Bathed in the sacred blood of my womb. Scared some familial readers half to death, but que sera sera.

What piece of literature set you on fire most recently and why?

I’ve been reading a lot of Kristin Garth’s poetry in online magazines. Finding it exquisite. Ingrid Calderon-Collin’s poems always blows me out of the water. For inexplicable reasons the book I return to again and again is Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life. Although my novel debut ten year prior is a less monied, more hardcore version of the same drugs, clubs and mental illness downward spiral? The electric zing of Marnell’s glamorous prose always gets me in a blanket fort wearing Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium, glittery scarves and fur. Good times.

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?                                                  

In print, I enjoy Juxtapoz for the Los Angeles art scene I left behind. Usually I read online literary magazines such as OCCULUM journal, Moonchild, Entropy and Luna Luna.

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

Given the financial limitations placed upon writers by a broken system, I wouldn’t dare presume. I am on Disability. Must live solely on a fixed income. Never commit fraud by selling paintings or writing. I always write inside my House of the Rising Sun. The coffee is free and the cats are friendly.

Fair point. Is there a particular “space” that you “travel” to regularly (figurative space, I mean)?

I rarely leave my home, except for go to my fiancee’s apartment downtown. However the space I think you mean is an internal spiritual space where magic is possible and hallucinations reality. The spare bedroom in my House of the Rising Sun is a Wiccan chapel. An altar with my own baby teeth, nails, silver crucifixes, candles, funeral cards of beloved dead etc… is surrounded my rings of tumbled rose quartz, amethyst and black Tourmaline. I go in that room to practice witchcraft and pray. I regularly walk down the hardwood hall to this spiritual space. Light candles and incense. Enter a mystical liminal space. Attempt to find power in a world where I am mostly powerless.

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

As Lana Winters says at the end of American Horror Story: Asylum, standing before her dead lesbian partner’s tomb, “I did it for the story. I just never knew how much it would cost.” I would tell my younger self that you will sacrifice all semblance of a normal happy life. Walk through fire that almost kills you and leaves you deeply scarred. At the end there is peaceful sanctuary. The satisfaction that having failed at almost everything real people do, you excel at a few non remunerative dead arts. I would also tell her: become an engineer instead.

What are you currently working on? This is a space for you to brag a little– what are your most recent pubs, etc.

I write a monthly column for Entropy Magazine called “Dining with a Cursed Bloodline.” It is about my tight knit Reno family. My own queer neurodiverse experiences with cooking and witchcraft. I am extremely thankful for my editor, Stephanie Tsank ,for giving me March off to go to AWP. I plan on writing her a brutal April column. About the pharmaceutical incompetence preventing me from attending after all, when I was a featured presenter and in two off sites. The food focus will be all the ice cream, energy drinks and RxBars I ate in bed grieving. It comes out the last Monday of the month. Archives on my website: http://andreaklambert.com

Where can readers find your books? 

Amazon distributes my novel “Jet Set Desolate” and the anthologies. “Impact: Queer Sci Fi’s Fifth Annual Flash Fiction Contest,” “Golden State 2017: The Best New Writing from California,” “Haunting Muses,” and “Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices.” My Swedish poetry collaboration, “Lorazepam and the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles / 730910-2155” is available from the valeveil publisher’s site. My chapbook G(U)ILT is out of print. My digital chapbook “Lexapro Diary: Events of January 22, 2007” is available at the Moonchild Magazine site.

Kick

I’d complain it’s too hot

            But I know

you                  and you would tell me

that your skin was practically peeling off the

            bone

            yesterday.

And you wouldn’t remember the metal sign

with the dachshund cut out

                        in curly q’s

that marked the entrance to the hideout

where I am sweating into a trough now.

My skin flakes like bird feathers—

                        Down to the pebbles that support      

            my back about as well as that pillow top mattress

we got conned into buying last year—

you know,

            the one that already has an imprint of you

two feet deep and dry desert dust in its veins like us

like the foreigners that it holds each night as they wish they

were from                                here.

Like us, like us,

            Howling at silver plates and kicking over the bulbs of

the star on the mountain just to see them explode

glass firecrackers

                        in our faces.

Feet

The puddles that formed in my husband and I’s backyard after a rain smelled different than the ones outside Sarah’s. I loved the way it felt to be drenched standing in front of her downtown one-bedroom, flirting with the rapid waters of brown arroyos, angry that they must twist and turn through oil slick streets with no storm drains to speak of.

The gathering piles of rainwater pulled cars along like paper boats in a stream, but we were women barefoot on the pavement that was still warm from the noonday sun. It was filled with garbage and debris, stinking like sulfur. The tufts of grass in the muddy park felt good on my feet. My toes were black as grackle feathers crowing in the howling wind—letting thunder through my ears and head and sleeping on a lightning bed—

Sarah’s home smelled like palo santo and sweetgrass, burning, and chaotic sweet, she would

offer me chocolates that she made with delicate petals and green tea. I loved the way we laid in her backyard, backs flush against smooth, warm tile, mouths wide to catch

                        watery seeds,

                        Marveling at how little the drops fell between our teeth. How improbable it would be to drink—

How improbable to consume, but how easy to be swept away

each time the mountain bleeds—

No. My husband and I’s first real house two miles away had the same carpet from 1962 that ran through every room in the house except the kitchen and the bathroom. There, the carpet gave way to linoleum that thinly coated concrete. When we toured the place, there was barely any linoleum left, just patches of plastic laid haphazardly over grainy grey. It felt coarse, both hot and cool against my bare feet.

Outside, the house had a backyard slathered with tile, dirt, and even more concrete. Grey, heat-holding concrete. I was poked, prodded, cut by pebbles and shattered glass from the tiny casita that was slowly imploding on the edge of our concrete yard. I pulled cactus spines and bee stingers from my soles and walked over dried chunks of charcoal.  Dog hair, must, creosote, salt-water skin. These are the smells that the rain brought in.

Feet like ribbons, oil-slicked, dirt-caked,

            Drenched; head to my husband’s chest, streaks of hot white paint streaked overhead. I breathed in musk and his Pennsylvania dust, pulled flannel to my skin

                        To skin drenched in

                                    Oil-slicked, dirt-caked,

                                                Sin.

Interview: Lannie Stabile

This week I spoke with Lannie Stabile about her creative process. Lannie is a Detroiter and Finalist for the 2019/2020 Glass Chapbook Series. She is currently penning her second chapbook, as well as a novel. Her work has been previously featured in The Hellebore, Kissing Dynamite, Cauldron Anthology, and more. She serves as the Project Manager at Barren Magazine and as Editor at Knights Library Magazine. She is a member of MMPR Collective.

What is your favorite creative medium?

I tend to write poetry, but I’m no stranger to short stories and abandoned novels.

What do you love about that medium (i.e. why do you create that way)?

Like every other writer out here, I’m stewing in a lot of emotions: anger, shame, doubt, loss, etc. And to be a semi-functional human being, I have to find a way to release these noxious fumes. Poetry just seems like the best conduit.

What in particular makes it a good conduit? Any particular kind of poetry?

Poetry is constantly evolving and being experimented with. Because of this, it can be so many things. It can be a snapshot or a scream. A murmur or a scramble. A misanthropic cave or a beckoning precipice. Depending on how transparent I want the poem to be, conceivably, I can offer the reader as many bricks as we both can carry and still keep my wall intact. On the other hand, I can give them the one brick that will make everything collapse. 

I think the more personal the piece, the better conduit it can be. Even if it’s never meant for consumption, it’s good to get the gunk out. My mom used to write letters to people she was upset with, then burn them. Burn the letters, not the people. Haha. Maybe I get it from her. 

How do you begin your creative process?

Headphones are the key for me. Once those bad boys go on, I get transported to Pen Land.

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

I’m actually most creative at work. Probably because it’s a space where I’m productive for eight or nine hours a day. So, I’ll write on lunch or after hours.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

Music distracts me when I’m writing. What I’ve found works best is a compilation of rain sounds. It’s loud and droning, so it cancels out anything else going on around me. It’s sort of like hypnosis.

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

Wanda Deglane’s “a little louder this time” (published in Phemme) split me in half. When I got married two and a half years ago, my neighbor literally “congratulated” me by saying, “I don’t understand the whole gay thing, but if you’re happy, I’m happy.” So, when Wanda writes, “if you have to exist, must you do it so loudly,” it’s like hearing my neighbor’s words over and over again. She understands how they’re trying to muffle us.

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?

Shameless plug alert: I get really excited about Barren Magazine. Our team does such a phenomenal job putting each issue together, and the results are ::chef kiss::

Favorite issue thus far?

Issue Four will always have my heart because it was the first issue I helped curate as a Contributing Editor. However, our current issue, Tinderbox Hymns (Issue Seven) is a monster! I read Barlow Adams’ “Lil Bobby” just this morning and was struck by how lucky I am to be a part of Barren. We have incredible writers entrusting us with incredible works every day.

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

Oh, I can’t speak for everyone. I think we all have a place that would speak louder to one person than it would to another. But I can tell you, as someone whose poetry is highly influenced by Greek mythology, I would collapse in literary ecstasy if I ever visited Athens.

What myths do you keep returning to in particular?

Icarus and his heliocentric fate is a common recurring theme. The Hydra and Hercules have reared their ugly heads now and then. Also, I have an entire sectional poem devoted to Zeus and how much he sucks.  

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

Be afraid if you want to, but submit anyway. Get your stuff noticed. When people say you’re talented, believe them. In times of doubt, remember their words. Instead of getting up two hours before school every morning to read, use one of those hours to write. Develop a habit. Save your journals. And don’t let anyone borrow your book of poems. She’s going to lose it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a chapbook that explores a personal tie with a convicted Michigan serial killer. Recent publications include: Marias at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose, Kissing Dynamite, Nightingale & Sparrow, Monstering, Honey & Lime, and more. Honey & Lime actually showcases my first ever CNF piece. And just recently I took on the role of editor at Knights Library Magazine. My website is https://lanniepenland.weebly.com

What I’m Reading: April 2019

It’s National Poetry Month, ya’ll! You better believe that means I am reading a ton of poetry for this feature (and, you know, also because I love poetry). So, to that end, there are several poetry selections and only one prose selection this month. Thanks to Malvern Books’s National Poetry Month sale, I was able to score some really great collections and I am so excited to share them with you.

If I had to pick a through line in all of the collections I am featuring here, it would be each poet’s engagement with an expansive self that makes these collections both extraordinarily intimate, limited to the particular experience of the writer, and simultaneously ubiquitous. These authors hold up a mirror and ask the readers to consider whether they see themselves in violence or violence in themselves. They also ask the reader to engage with their inner child or adolescent, to play, to be experienced and inexperienced.

With all of that said, I hope that you enjoy these collections as much as I have. Happy National Poetry Month!

Poetry Picks:

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

Boa Editions, 2017, $16

“Like all scholars in any sort of heaven, I will study

the metaphysics of madness”

– “Elegy”

Jericho Brown says it best in his forward to Chen Chen’s beautiful collection when he says, “The greatest achievement of this book is its singular and sustained voice, poem after poem of a speaker whose obsessive and curious nature is that of an adult who refuses to give up seeing through the eyes of an adolescent, one who believes that the world is a malleable place and that asking the right questions changes its form.” Truly, this book suspends you between the beauty of promise and the chaotic muck of searching for one’s identity both within and without a perilous family system. When Chen Chen constructs a thirteen year-old speaker, we believe him. We want to hold that thirteen year old and offer the support and acceptance that they are searching for. This collection really floored me for its honesty and its careful working through the appearance and submersion of intersectional identities.

Personal Favorites: “West of Schenectady” & “I’m Not a Religious Person But”

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Copper Canyon Press, 2019, $17

This is a book you have to read and then read again and read and then read again. Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is the music of rage and love and loving oneself. It is violence and mercy and a whole lot of other descriptors that I would feel silly throwing around now. Brown’s poetry is rhythmic. It pulls you in with its music and tells you to sit down and listen. And you do. Like Chen Chen’s work, Brown harnesses the power of asking the right questions, but also the power of acknowledging violence in everyday life. Brown’s speaker indicts the reader for their ambivalence in the face of terror, even as the speaker also acknowledges the pleasures that can be found in daily life. This book moved me to tears on several occasions. It is powerful and important and I suggest that everyone pick up a copy and read it as soon as they can.

Personal Favorites: “Duplex” & “The Peaches”

24 Hours of Men by Lisa L. Moore

Dancing Girl Press & Studio, 2018, $7

“I wear outrage like a hair shirt/ scary and close to the skin/ prickles covering the zipper down the back/ which I can’t reach anyway.”

– “Poem I Wrote Instead of Listing the Names of Every Boy and Man Who Has Assaulted or Harassed Me”

The only chapbook on this list, Lisa Moore’s 24 Hours of Men is nonetheless an extraordinary response to the complex interweaving of violence and love day to day. Moore charges you with rage over police violence, homophobia, sexual assault, and sexism, which is carefully tucked in next to the intensity of motherly love. She asks us to consider whether these different kinds of violence can ever be separated from our home-bound selves. This collection is special for its poignancy and its urgent response and call to action. I read through it in one sitting and am sure that you will too.

Personal Favorites: “Inauguration” & “24 Hours of Men”

Prose Pick:

Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

HarperCollins, 2018, $16

This essay collection is so important. Also, I feel slightly attacked by it. As a lover of true crime and Law & Order: SVU, I am no stranger to what Bolin terms “The Dead Girl Show,” but I had never considered the systematic harm that this collective obsession with the dead bodies of women causes. Bolin expertly weaves together personal and cultural experience with shows like Twin Peaks and True Detective, exposing the ways in which U.S. culture suggests that the best kind of woman for a man is a dead woman.

Literary Journal Pick:

Image captured from yespoetry.com

Yes, Poetry

Okay, so here is where I get to rave. I love Yes, Poetry journal! The content that they publish is always full of fire, honest, and well-curated. Most recently, Terri Muus’s “Alternative Names for Rape Survivors” made me hit the floor. The post new things every day, so if you are looking for a new journal, definitely check them out!

Toes

When I was in college, I would walk around campus on the phone with bare feet. I’d feel my toes dipping into the soft earth and let them be warm, covered in mud and slick stone.

            My toes are curled and cracked and filled with callouses. They are flexible beans on the edge of my feet that claw and balance, flex and unflex, sending me forward all muscles and ligaments, tendons and bones, thrusting me from dirt or pavement into the air, into the day, into the night. When I dance, I like to stand on my toes after heels, reaching upwards and back down, stretching and collapsing. Toes are wonderful things.

            My husband cracks my toes when he rubs my feet. He pulls each joint and waits for a pop with each little bean. Then he bends them backward and I feel like they’ve been curled claws for weeks.       I also paint my toes and then let the paint chip away for ten months each year. Easter-egg blue in December is more my speed.

            Two months after I met my husband, I tore a nail off a big toe. I don’t remember which one now, but I remember how it came off. I was half way through a fifth of Burnet’s vodka and feeling light, warm, and free. I watched a man much stronger than me jump from the concrete pad outside of the basement to the porch above us and pull himself up on a single wood beam.

            I felt strong, competent, and a little too green. I screamed that I could definitely do that too and hurled myself at the edge of the decking, lifting three inches from the ground, and landing on the tops of my feet not on air, but the pad of concrete.

            I began to laugh and bleed and heard shouts of “Jane, what are you doing!” I walked upstairs, red streamers trailing from the tops of my feet. I was met with ten laughing young men and women, pimpled and pocked faces staring in disbelief. They sat me out on the deck and poured another quarter of the vodka over my mangled feet. They healed with pink scars like those irises— something I could keep.

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Interview: Tianna G. Hansen

Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life. Her work has been published widely in many forms but her first love will always be poetry, and her debut poetry collection “undone, still whole” is coming in May 2019 from APEP Publications. She is founder and editor-in-chief of Rhythm & Bones Press, a lit mag and small press focusing on the beauty in darkness and turning trauma into art, healing through writing. Learn more and find her work at CreativeTianna.com / Twitter @tiannag92 / IG @tgghansen24 / FB @tiannaghansen.

What is your favorite creative medium?

Poetry, but I write in many different mediums including creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and collage.

What do you love about that medium (i.e. why do you create that way)?

Poetry has always been my first love. I connect deeply with the form, the ability to express emotion and even reach a catharsis while writing poetry. I love the ability to create concrete images using similes and metaphors. Even my fiction and other mediums are very poetic. There’s something about poetry that speaks to me. I find poetry in the most mundane day-to-day and am constantly composing poems in my head, no matter what I’m doing.

How do you begin your creative process?

I normally begin with a strong emotion or image which will help as a jumping off point for a poem, CNF or fiction piece I am writing. I think finding a central emotion I want to evoke or focus on gives my work something to anchor on and makes it stronger. This will always lead me into a deeper revelation on what I want to write about and what I hope to create. I’ve found my environment doesn’t matter – I’ll compose poetry on anything: a napkin, a scrap of paper, my notes section on my phone, a receipt… as long as I have some way of capturing the words, I write. Otherwise, I compose in my head (I often write poetry while I’m driving) and repeat the lines until I think I can remember enough to write it down later.

Is there a singular emotion that you find to be more generative than others?

The stronger the emotion, the more generative it becomes. Since a lot of my writing is used as a form of cathartic release, many of the emotions I write into poetry deal with internal pain, depression and anxiety (my struggles with mental illness), and my PTSD symptoms. Not a day goes by where I don’t experience one or all of these emotions, and it feels amazing to put them into creating something. I strongly believe that something beautiful always remains, no matter what type of darkness we face.

Where is your favorite place to create and why?

My favorite place to create is somewhere surrounded by nature. I’ll notice things that I wouldn’t notice indoors – the way the wind whispers through the trees or the birdsong echoes over the hill, or the sun warms my skin. This helps me evoke emotions and images and lines that I wouldn’t otherwise feel as strongly or grasp properly.

Is there any place in particular that you find more evocative than others and why?

Lately, I have found writing out on my porch, as the weather warms and Beltane approaches, I feel like my creative energy is restoring itself as well. Not only am I surrounded by nature there, but I also have a spot where I can go to clear my head and I have found myself writing a lot of poems out there, even under the light of the moon. The moon is a large focus in much of my work as well, so writing with the moon shining on me feels right. It is wholesome. I saw something the other day that talked about how the moon has many phases but is always whole no matter what phase it is in. I identified a lot with that, which is a theme in my debut collection Undone, Still Whole with APEP Publications.

What is your favorite music to create to and why?

Sometimes I find it difficult to create to any type of music, but when I do, I enjoy instrumental music or something calming without a lot of lyrics, like Enya. I like my own words to shine through without being influenced by song lyrics, though I’m sure this would be a fun way to create a different type of poetry someday.

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

The short story collection ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ by Carmen Maria Machado has stuck with me since reading for the way it experiments and pushes boundaries of societal expectation placed on women’s bodies, and the way it plays and tugs on the imagination of the reader. I won’t soon, if ever, forget the experience of reading this book and still think of it often.

What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?

In particular, I’m excited right now and completely adore all the work by APEP Publications (and I’m not just saying that because one of the upcoming books is mine), they spend so much time and care with their work, and it is a true collaboration between artists. The poets and other work they publish, the quality of the books, and the artwork included which is all done by Jeremy Gaulke is very impressive and very inspirational. It has made me want to be more innovative with my own personal work and the work of my press, too. I also always get excited by magazines that are truly unique. Magazines like Twist in Time, Bonnie’s CrewMoonchild Mag, Mojave He[art] Review, OkaydonkeySuburban Springtime, Ginger Collect, Pussy Magic, Pink Plastic House really have a beautiful take (but there are so, so many others!). Small presses I’m most excited about lately: APEP (again), Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Selcouth Station Press, Empty Set PressLanternfish Press, Porkbelly PressHedgehog Poetry Press. There are so many that excite me, I hesitate to name any because I know I’ll neglect someone in there. I am just deeply enamored with all the hard work the literary community does.  

I’m a huge lover of physical magazines too, for numerous reasons – yes, I love reading them (in particular, ‘Poets & Writers’ and ‘The New Yorker’), but I also love to repurpose them once I’m done reading into bits for collages. If I find a striking image or words in the magazine, I instantly get excited and envision what I could do with a collage, although my collages are usually just a way for me to creatively express emotion and I have only ever submitted them once (I had one published in Riggwelter this past January).

How does collage inform your writing? Do you find that the visual work interacts with your written work at all?

Some of my collages are just a collection of words, which reminds me of a poem. Others are images joined together to create something else (I have one collage that is a collection of different colored hair, eyes, noses, teeth all looking like they are part of one face, with a set of hands holding up a bouquet of chins). I go by feeling, using a theme or something else that strikes me – maybe it’s an image, or a word (much like the way I begin my creative process for writing poetry) – and build off that until I have an entire collage surrounding that theme. Often the theme emerges as I go, and is usually unexpected. It’s a good exercise for finding links between different images, words or ideas and making them join together to create another meaning altogether. I’m glad you asked that question, Jane, thank you. It made me realize how similar in nature my process of collaging is to my writing, though it’s not something I thought of before. I have always used collaging as a form of stress relief, a distraction and something to put my mind to which has always been a fun, creative way to breathe easier. It calms me down and I love creating anything by hand, so I always create my collages using cut paper and a gluestick. I also love writing my poems by hand. I try not to ever type them first. I love the feeling of holding a pen to paper and handwriting. Then I will transfer to a computer later, and often form a second draft as I go.

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

Travel anywhere & everywhere you possibly can! I am a strong believer that travel enhances the soul and seeing new places, especially as a writer, gives you plenty of seedlings that can sprout into something creative. I particularly love going to a new country and surrounding myself in their cultural intricacies. A favorite of mine is Edinburgh, Scotland, for its large literary history and the atmosphere in general being an inspirational place for writers (it’s also where I had my MFA residency and met my now-husband).

Is there any particular nook in Edinburgh that we should go to write?

Since I’m all about nature, I would suggest climbing Arthur’s Seat which is a beautiful place to go and you can look out across the city. Or going to watch the sunset on Calton Hill. These are two of my favorite spots. But if you’re looking for a cozy nook to write in, any pub will do. There are many of them, and there’s something about the nature of being inside a real Scottish pub that invigorates my imagination. It helps to envision other famous authors and poets who have done the same, wandering the cobbled streets and sitting with a pint or two while they compose words. It’s a truly inspirational city all around. 

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

Don’t force it. If you aren’t feeling in the mood to create, don’t. I used to put so much pressure on myself if I wasn’t writing every day, or even every week, and sometimes you need to give your creative energy a break. I spent nearly a year after my MFA program not writing, hating myself every moment of the day for ‘giving up’ and not doing what I felt I should. But now, I no longer hold myself to those expectations and I’ve rediscovered my love for the process of creating. Allow it to come naturally. Don’t overwork and over-stress yourself when you feel things aren’t coming to you. Let the poetry and the writing and the words come to you. It will, when you’re ready, and you will discover things that you wouldn’t had you forced it into being.

What are you currently working on?

My debut poetry collection “Undone, Still Whole” will be coming in May from APEP Publications. This is by far my most astonishing accomplishment to date. Before I reached out to APEP, I was ready to put my collection to rest and allow it to gather dust, but working with Jeremy, editing and discussing illustrations and spending time with my work again made me fall in love with what I had created all over again. I feel so rejuvenated having worked on this, and it is going to be a true work of art. The time and attention and care that Jeremy puts into his projects is something that is rare and wonderful. I have three poems from the collection coming out in a feature with Thirty West Publishing in April, and some other poems that are going to be featured in other lit mags/journals, namely Moonchild Mag has accepted three poems from another upcoming collection, which is a collaboration between me, Kristin Garth, and Justin Karcher – a poetic opera where we all wrote from a different character’s point of view and created a dark fantasy world. I’m excited to release that, from my small press Rhythm & Bones, this June. There’s always something going on with my press – we have one book coming out each month until September, so I’ll be busy at work editing, laying out, and publishing books myself. I cannot wait, though, to have books with my own work in them coming out. It feels amazing to finally be able to share my very personal work with others and I hope everyone will like my debut collection. I write from a very personal place with a strong belief that writing acts as a form of healing trauma, and I hope I’m able to inspire others through this.

Interview: Kristin Garth

For my first “emerging writer” interview, I Skyped with poet, Kristin Garth to talk about her upcoming projects and her creative process. Kristin was an incredible interview. She opened up about writing about vulnerable topics, the anxiety of publishing, stripping, writing nineteenth century fantasy, and more. Listen to our conversation below!*

CW: Sexual Assault, Trauma Writing

https://soundcloud.com/lunaspeaks/emerging-writers-interview-kristin-garth

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker.  Her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Yes, Five:2: One, Former Cactus, Occulum & many more.  She has six chapbooks including Shakespeare for Sociopaths (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press March 2019) and The Legend of the Were Mer (Thirty West Publishing House March 2019). Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), and she has a fantasy collaborative full length A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony forthcoming in June (Rhythm & Bones Lit) and Flutter (TwistiT Press) in January 2020. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie), and her website http://kristingarth.com 

*I will be uploading the transcript for this interview shortly

What I’m Reading- March 2019

This month’s list is a little shorter than February, but for good reason, I swear!

…Okay maybe it’s not that great of a reason. Basically, I just have been writing a little more than I have been reading this month, which is just the way she goes sometimes. The texts I have been reading have had a lot to do with inspiring and guiding my creative process. For example, I have been working on a lyrical essay collection, so I have been reading several fabulous lyrical essay collections.

If you are a bibliofile and a writer like me, I hope these selections help inform your process too!

  1. Antlers in Space and Other Common Phenomena by Melissa Wiley, Split Lip Press, 2017

I picked up Wiley’s collection of lyric essays as an example of what is possible for a lyric essay collection and I was not disappointed! Wiley’s writing is beautifully rendered, raw, poignant, and just the right amount of meditative. It is one of those books that keeps you thinking long after you’ve turned each page.

$16 from Split Lip Press

2. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Graywolf Press, 2015

Speaking of texts that need no introduction, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts hit me at a time when I have been feeling rather lost in finding my place in the literary world. Nelson weaves together topics like queerness, sexuality, motherhood, relationships, and social theory with deftness that I could only aspire to in my own prose. Let’s just say that by the time she is laying out her entire experience of birthing her child, Iggy, at the end of the novel, I was sobbing over my well-loved copy in the middle of a plane.

3. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, Workman Publishing, 2012

This little book is really just a must-read for anyone who wants to start calling themselves a “creative type.” I read the whole thing in thirty minutes, but you can bet that it is one of those quote machines that I will be carrying around with me forever.

4. LIT MAG PICK: Kissing Dynamite Poetry

Though its a newer lit mag, Kissing Dynamite has been routinely putting out, well dynamite every issue. I was totally enthralled with their most recent offering, Funhouse Mirror, and really can’t wait for the next issue to come out!