Four Questions with Martin Grey

 

 


 

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

 
I’m a Nottingham based performance poet and event organiser. I spent the best part of a decade writing poems I barely showed to anybody, before starting a now defunct poetry blog in 2011 and nervously taking to the stage for the first time in 2013.

 
My poems tend to be about little details and connections to people, objects and time, but I also write nonsense and found poetry when the mood takes me. I try to layer a positive social or political message into my poems, but generally prefer to leave it under the words for people to find. I consider it a compliment if three people read a poem of mine and take three different meanings.

 
I’ve always been drawn to nuanced and character focussed writing, especially in poetry and song lyrics. I used to blow my early teenage mind exploring all the possible meanings in 90s lyrics from the likes of Richey Edwards and Gruff Rhys. Today, I still find that poets who have had the most influence over my writing tend to explore these same themes. Mike Garry’s poem “Made in England” is a great example of this.
My writing is also strongly influenced by how many incredibly talented poets there are in the East Midlands. Just seeing great poet after great poet at an open mic is often enough to make me work extra hard on a poem, in the hope it can hold up next to everybody else’s!

 

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 promote through my social media accounts (instagram, youtube, facebook) and a website. While I do find these useful (it’s great if you want to get people to your event or livestream, for example), I also find they have limited value on their own, and keeping them active can be to the detriment of my own focus. All that said though, you should definitely follow me.

 
I personally think the best promotion, especially locally, comes from not actually promoting, but from being present, being genuine and being aware. Talk to people at events, give people confidence and a platform where you can, tell that instapoet why you liked their poem, make sure you’re on the mailing list, apply to whatever you can and be nice to people. I personally find these help create more opportunities and add time to my own writing, because they fill my mind with ideas and remind me why I love doing it.

 

3, What projects are you working on at present?

 
Quite a few at the moment. My first book, The Prettyboys of Gangster Town, is due out later this year with Fly on the Wall Poetry, which I’m super excited about!

 
I’m also closely involved with two local groups, DIY Poets and World Jam. At DIY we run quarterly events, monthly writing support meetings, and produce what we believe is the longest running free poetry zine in the country, although we’d love to meet a group with a longer running one. At World Jam we try to facilitate global poetry and music through events and workshops, by getting people together from as many different backgrounds, native languages and styles as we can.

 
I was also going to start bringing some spoken word theatre shows to Nottingham, but unfortunately all that has gone on hold at the moment. I guess I find it hard to say no to poetry things!

4, What does poetry mean to you?

As horribly cliched as this sounds, it really does mean the world to me, because it’s good for me in so many ways. It’s friendship. It’s belonging to a community. it’s being part of something positive and being able to help open doors for others. it’s educational, teaching me a lot about how other people feel and process what comes their way. It’s a therapist with unlimited time to help me come to terms with any difficult times I face. It’s also made me much better at taking constructive criticism!

 
On a different angle, it’s also a marker of how good something can be. In a great poem, the words seem to dance on the page or paint great works on the walls of the venue. There’s nothing quite like that breathe out moment, when somebody’s poem gets right into the blood cells of everyone in the room, and the only tools you need for that are a pen and the back of an envelope. It’s magic.


DSC02855 portrait
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https://www.youtube.com/martingreypoet

 

 

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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Ghost City Press Summer micro -chapbook series. Week 1 & 2.

We are into week two of Ghost City Press’s summer micro-chapbook series!

Here are the six chaps that have been released so far.

Graphic 3 by Rachelle Toarmino

Book of Mirrors by Bara Hladikova

Area Woman by Lily Trotta

Ironbound Fados by Carla Sofia Ferriera

The Shelves Exist by Gervanna Stephens

Heatstroke by Christee Henry

Enjoy 🌈


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Through your Chests by Linda M. Crate.

One of my favourite poets, who’s very prolific, Linda M. Crate had a poem published in Willow lit Mag

‘i will help smash the patriarchy

with these glass slippers they’ve put on my feet

come crashing through the ceiling

with bleeding feet

because i am no stranger to pain’

http://willowlitmag.com/2018/11/25/through-your-chests-by-linda-m-crate/