An interview with Beth Gordon. Author of chapbook Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press.

 

Bio Photo - Beth Gordon 6.19.19

 

 

Beth Gordon Bio:

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother, currently landlocked in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have been published in numerous journals including Riggwelter, Into the Void, Five:2:One, SWWIM, Verity La, Califragile, Pretty Owl Poetry and Yes Poetry. She is the author of the chapbook, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press. She is also Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.


 

  1. Tell us a little about your new book and the inspiration behind it?

My new book published by Animal Heart Press is Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe. Since 2014, my poetry has been informed by loss, grief, and realizing that I live in a world where my experiences of loss are shared by more people than not. The poems I wrote 2014-2016 were explicitly about death and grief. The poems in this book were mostly written in 2017 and 2018 and are about what survival looks like, what life looks like after loss, how to find joy in a life that will end. And how to think about that juxtaposition of joy and death/tragedy on a more universal scale.

2. What experiences or people have had a significant impact on your writing?  

The most significant experience that impacted my writing over the past five years was the death of my granddaughter at the age of seven months – November 2013. And in the 9 months that followed her death, I also attended five other “significant” funerals. In the middle of the “year of the funeral” I met another writer, John Dorroh (JD) who has become my writing partner (and muse). Not only did he help me as a friend during the darkest time in my life; he led me back to writing.

 

3. Since you started to write how do you feel you have changed, and your writing developed?

 

I’ve been writing poetry since I was seven years old, so I’ll speak more narrowly about changes in my writing over the past five years. I would say that like many writers, I was very attached to the subject matter of my work, especially when I began writing about my granddaughter’s death. I relied heavily on the emotion of that subject matter. Over the past five years, through a willingness to let my work evolve, I’ve tried to rely more heavily on my craft…on the art of writing…to carry the weight of each poem. If I’m successful, the emotion will surface through a more deft use of language.

 

4. Which period of your life do you write about most often?

I tend to write about the present. I may pull in elements of past experiences, but usually I’m writing about recent experiences and external events. If I write about the past, it’s because it is relevant to a certain theme.

 

5. What did you edit out of your book?

 

This book started as a full-length manuscript, with a section that included some older poems that were peripherally related to the other poems in the book. I decided to pull out that entire section. I thought it would be hard to do, a kind of emotional amputation. But I was happily surprised to find that what was left was so much tighter and powerful. I’m a brutal self-editor as it is…I have no fear of ripping apart poems and re-assembling them…which is what I did with the book.

6. How many hours a day do you write?

For four years, I know I wrote at least an hour a day during the week (I have a fairly demanding day job) and 4-8 hours a day on weekends. I would say now I write about 10 hours a week, on average.

7. In terms of receiving feedback for your writing who or what do you use for a sounding board?

My main sounding board is my friend and fellow writer, JD. If we are both in town, we get together every Friday night (and sometimes Saturday night). We share what we’ve written the week before and spend focused time writing new poems. I’ve been asked if we are writing collaboratively, i.e. are we creating poems that are co-authored. Except for one poem recently, the answer is no. What we do instead is read our work out loud…which is so important. I hear so many things I would not otherwise notice if I’m just looking at words on a page. It’s easy to become self-absorbed and convinced that no editing is required. But I hear glitches when I read out loud and can also get a sense of how the poem is being experienced by the listener. I’m also part of a writer’s group in Carlinville, IL and get feedback. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some poets along the way (both through social media and “in person”) who are willing to read/critique work in progress.

 

8. What are the aspects of writing that you find challenging?

The biggest challenge is making sure that I continue to evolve. I go through phases where I become proficient at writing a certain kind of poem – whether it’s form or subject matter or both – and then I explore that “type” of poem for awhile. Eventually, it becomes too easy to write multiple version of the same poem and I know it’s time to switch things up. That period of time when I push myself to improve my craft…for me, it feels like I’m lifting something very heavy. Pushing to the next level is difficult…then I’m there and writing feels “lighter” again. Until the next plateau.

9. Other than your writing, what else occupies your time?

I have a job that often takes up 50-60 hours of my time (weekly) and I spend as much of my “non day-job” time writing. I also like to spend time with my family which includes a son in St. Louis, a daughter in Richmond, VA, a daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandkids in LaBelle, FL, a brother, sister-in-law and nephew in Winchester, VA and parents in Asheville, NC. If I can find time, I also like to travel for fun. This year I’ve been able to spend several days in Portland, Oregon for the AWP Convention and I’m wrapping up a week in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (on the gulf coast).


 

 

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Four Questions with Karen Ankers

Karen Ankers

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I’m a poet, playwright and novelist, living in North Wales, with my partner, dog, and nine cats. I published a collection of poetry, One Word At A Time, last year. My first novel, The Crossing Place, was published in January, by Stepping Stones Publishing. I have eight one-act plays published by Lazy Bee Scripts, which have been performed in the UK, US, Australia and Malaysia.

My writing is inspired by what I see around me, and by my family. I am often moved to write by a sense of injustice. What interests me most is the point at which connections are made – whether that is between humans, or between people and the natural world.

The poet who has most influenced me is Patrick Jones, with his powerful and inspiring work.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

Yes, promotion eats into writing time, but it can also bring you into contact with other writers, which is great. I do spend time contacting writing groups and sometimes get invited to go and talk to them. I also read at various spoken word events. I’ll be reading at One Hundred Thousand Poets For Change, in Colwyn Bay, in October, and also at Wirral Bookfest. I run a regular open mic night in Anglesey, which gives me a chance to share my work, but also to hear the work of other people.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

At the moment, I’m working on my second novel. I’m currently about three-quarters of the way through the first draft. But I’m still writing poetry. I tend to use writing poems as a daily warm-up exercise, to loosen up the creative writing muscles before I tackle the novel.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry means communication. Poetry’s concentrated language means that it can communicate on a powerful, emotional level. And that is where change happens. So does that mean poets can change the world? Probably.


Four Questions with Dane Cobain ( @danecobain )

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Dane Cobain

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

Sure! So my name is Dane Cobain and I write in a range of different genres and formats encompassing fiction, non-fiction and poetry. My books are quirky and a little bit weird, and I like to write things that reflect both my own life and the society in which I live. For example, my first fiction book, a supernatural thriller novella called No Rest for the Wicked, takes a look at the war between science and religion and how we’re all guilty of “sin” to a certain extent. My first full length novel, Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network, is about a social networking site for the dead. You sign up, post updates that are visible only to yourself until you die, when your profile goes public.
For my poetry, I memorise and perform it and so it’s generally best read aloud. It uses a lot of stream-of-consciousness and wordplay as well as the sound of language itself to paint pictures. My poetry is arguably the most autobiographical of all of my work, and I’ve written about everything from anxiety disorder to binge drinking and getting freaked out by police dogs at an airport.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

I use a specific productivity routine that allows me to focus on different areas, so the marketing stuff rarely cuts into the writing time. Funnily enough, interviews like these come under my writing time because it involves me writing a bunch of answers, but it doesn’t cut into my time too much.
I’m pretty active on social networking sites and also have a mailing list, but I actually find that the main avenues for me to promote my work are my book blog (www.SocialBookshelves.com) and my BookTube channel (www.youtube.com/danecobain). I use both of them to talk about the books that I read, but it also increases exposure for my own books and helps me to get the word out there.
It’s a balancing act though, and I’d love to be rich enough and famous enough to be able to hire PR and marketing agencies and to only spend my time talking to national TV and radio hosts. At the moment, I’m not. So working on marketing and stuff myself is the only real option.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

As always, I have a bunch of projects on the go. The second book in my series of detective novels is edited and ready to go, but the first one has recently been picked up by a small publisher and so the rest of those are on hold until I figure out the lay of the land. The third one is already written and is currently going through its second of three rounds of edits, so I’m ahead of the game a little bit there.
As for poetry, I’m about 60-70% complete on my second collection, Kiss Kiss Death Death. That should be out within the next year or so, but we’ll see.
Finally, I’m working on a bunch of first drafts and plans for other stuff. My main writing project at the moment is my memoirs, which I’m tentatively calling “My Life in Books”, and after that I’m going to start working on a novel called Real Monsters, which I’ve been describing as Lord of the Rings meets Spinal Tap.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

I think Leonard Cohen put it best when he said, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”


eyeslikecobain


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Four Questions with Patricia M. Osborne ( @PMOsborneWriter )

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Patricia M. Osborne

 

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1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I’m a writer in my early 60s, married, a mother to three, and grandmother to five and although I was born in Liverpool I live in West Sussex. I have just finished the end of a four-year study for an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Brighton. As a writer, I am a novelist and poet which work perfectly as a combination for me because I don’t always have time to get into novel mode but can always start a new poem. I love nature, myth and folklore, and all these influence my poetry.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

I use Facebook, Twitter, and have a blog which I intend to be more active on now the MA has finished. I’ve dabbled in Instagram but need to understand this better and I’ve yet to tackle Pinterest. Does it eat into writing time? Yes it does and sometimes Twitter can be tedious. I have a routine: marketing in the morning, along with critique and editing, which leaves the afternoon/evening free for my writing time. Of course life gets in the way too, but I do my best to keep to the structure. My muse works better later in the day so in a way it’s a perfect plan as I can be thinking about what I want to write while marketing.
I haven’t published a collection of poetry yet but I am working on it. However, I’ve had many individual poems published in anthologies and magazines and even had a first prize win for my poem Grandad’s Garden. I was inspired to write this poem following a poetry workshop run by Alison Chisholm at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in 2017 when she handed us all a pinecone.


Grandad’s Garden

I turn the cone upside down,
it changes to a flower,
like the dahlias
in Grandad’s garden
where creepy earwigs
hide inside.

I paint my pinecone fiery orange,
use a green-striped straw for the stem,

wrap it in mistletoe paper,
place it under the tree
as a special present
for Mummy
on Christmas Day,

to make her smile,
cos she cries in bed, every night,
since Grandad died.

More of my published poems may be found on my website.


3, What projects are you working on at present?

I’ve just finished a collection of poetry for my MA dissertation titled ‘Spirit Mother’ based on myth, folklore and legend around trees. This has been an interesting and exciting project. I’m hoping to get this published later this year or early next year. I am also working on my second novel, ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ and a cover reveal along with releasing the first four chapters is imminent. This works as a sequel to my debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, or may be read as a standalone.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry for me is story telling in a few words and I love story telling which is why most of my poetry is written in narrative form. I love the way my subjects spring to life through layering and editing. Poetry, along with all writing, gives me the opportunity to escape to any place or any time of my choosing and I can be anyone or anything I want to be.


Where can you find me?
Facebook: Patricia M Osborne, Writer
Twitter: PMOsborneWriter
Website: http://patriciamosbornewriter.wordpress.com
Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Link to debut novel House of Grace, A Family Saga
http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace
Watch this space for upcoming poetry collections.


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