Interview with Sandy Hiortdahl

Today’s interview is with Issue 4’s poetry contest winner, Sandy Hiortdahl, who contributed “August Vortex” to this issue. She also called me “the coolest person ever,” but don’t worry,  I assure you her poetry is much better than her judgement of coolness.
joker in hat

Describe your work in 25 words or less.

My writing is a weird reflection of the way my mind combines thought with metaphor, characters, and imagery; I often don’t know where it’s going.

Tell me about your poem “August Vortex.”

We were having one of those terribly hot Maryland summers and the weathermen were so rational even as they were clearly excited by the coming new heat wave. I wondered what it’d be like if they used vivid, poetic language and metaphors to say what they really felt. The poem then combined with me missing someone and trying to express to him how much.

How does it feel to win the contest? Is it your first time?

I am overjoyed to have won Bop Dead City’s contest. I’ve admired the journal very much. Though I’ve won prizes for prose, I feel quite vulnerable with my poetry and this was my first poetry prize, ever. Thank you!

Where did you hear about the contest?

I was cruising BDC’s website like I do when I saw the notice. Then I saw it again on Duotrope.

What or who inspires you to write?

The inspiration for me seems to come from strange moments in time or a turn of phrase, what normal people would call trivial. Sometimes I don’t even know I’ve been inspired. A friend will read my work and say, “Oh, that one’s from the incident at the zoo, when we saw the sloth…” and only then can I see it. My mind mixes things like one of those paint machines at the hardware store so that I don’t even see it myself.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

I’m a John Gardner fan from way back. His scenes and characters become real in my mind like no one else’s, even when they’re as fantastical as Grendel. I admire his dedication to scholarship and teaching as well, and I’ve teied to live up to his high ideals. I also enjoy James Joyce and Flannery O’Connor a great deal. As for poets, I adore Wallace Stevems and Billy Collins. I guess I’d say that the shared characteristic is that none of them take themselves too seriously while at the same time being completely dedicated to the craft.

Do you have a blog/website?

I do. I have no spacial/artistic skills at all. My good friend, the illustrator Howard Dale, looked at my attempt at creating my own website and said, in his sweet, Southern way, “How about you let me have a go at that for you, Sandy?”

What are you working on right now?

I’m struggling through the middle of a novel I’ve been fighting with for a couple of years; I’ve written the beginning and much of the end but the middle is a mess. It’s a literary mystery novel set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and includes Blackbeard. I hope to finish it by October.

Any advice for other writers?

Most writers suffer daily from a lack of confidence and the best lesson I’ve learned in life is to leap over all of that–just leap over it and get back to the work and let the work run itself, separately from the ego. Read Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist: it’s warm, wonderful, good advice.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to thank you for this opportunity and the work you must do, day in and day out, to keep the journal going. Journals like BDC are the lifeblood of the profession, in my opinion.

About bopdeadcity

Bop Dead City is an independent, quarterly literary magazine. We are seeking new writers who have a great story to tell. Sound craftsmanship couldn't hurt either. All of our issues are available for purchase here on the site through Paypal. If you’d like to know more about what type of work we publish, reading a back issue would be the best way to do it. View all posts by bopdeadcity

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