Monthly Archives: December 2014

Interview with Shanti Weiland, Issue 9’s Poetry Contest Winner

Busy busy busy. Only a few more days until the submission deadline for Issue 10. Hurry hurry hurry.
Here’s Shanti!
Is this your first contest win? How did it feel?
Yes, it is! I was really surprised and happy.
Tell me more about “Dormant Trigger.”
I wrote “Dormant Trigger” to explore the shifting understanding of relationships with ornery people in adulthood. I think, when we’re young, the mean girls and boys seem to wield a power that’s beyond our ability to see through, at the time. As we get older, maybe we see their insecurities and our own vulnerabilities clearer, yet somehow, those stings of alienation from childhood seem to lie dormant inside of us. As kids, we can’t respond because we’re too afraid or embarrassed. As adults, we can’t respond because we don’t want to lose our jobs! It’s funny how people change (or don’t) and the perspective of adulthood, realizing the nuances of behavior and possessing the ability to contemplate them intellectually or to feel them intuitively, and yet still to feel the sting as a child does.
Who or what inspires you to write?
My fellow writers from my graduate program at University of Southern Mississippi definitely inspire me to write. We’ve been sharing our work with each other for the last ten years. Mike Bassett and Jordan Sanderson are great poets, critics, and two of my best friends. They have mastered the perfect blend of no-nonsense criticism and kind encouragement. No doubt, they learned this from our amazing professor, Angela Ball, who is also a great poet, critic, and friend.
What or who do you consider your greatest influences?
Well, when I was growing up, it was Wonder Woman! It was the 80s and my parents bought me Wonder Woman Underoos for Christmas. I used to run around the neighborhood in them, fighting crime. It was pretty great. I loved (and love) any strong, inspirational woman, from Buffy to Gloria Steinem.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Figure out when you’re at your best, as a writer, and try to create a writing routine around that time. It doesn’t always work and sometimes inspiration just comes when it comes. When it doesn’t, though, you’ll at least have carved out a time to play around with your writing. I used to write mostly in the mornings. I felt more open and connected then. I did that for three years. Then, this last summer, I suddenly just wanted to write in the afternoons. I don’t know why I felt this way, but I changed my writing time for it.  Of course, I don’t schedule the time during my long teaching days (although I’ve been known to sneak in a poem while my class is doing group work). Just make sure that your writing time is something you look forward to attending, lest it become the classic ill-fated workout program.
Do you have a website or a blog for your writing?
Yes, I recently started a website:
What do you enjoy doing (aside from winning poetry contests)?
I enjoy reading on the porch and greeting my neighbors who walk their dogs around the neighborhood. Friendly neighbors and front porches are a couple perks that I enjoy, living in the south! I also enjoy cooking and playing with my pet dogs and cat.
What are you currently working on? Where can we read your work next?
I am currently shopping my poetry manuscript “Sister Nun,” which is about a woman who joins a Buddhist convent in response to a broken heart. The manuscript begins with the speaker, who names herself “Sister Nun,” escaping over the wall of the convent even though she has, in no way, been held captive. During the rest of the manuscript (and the rest of her life, which spans over 215 years, not including her casual second-coming) she explores her identity, sexuality, and the path to enlightenment by wrestling alligators, vacationing in hell, and traveling through time and space.
I have two poems forthcoming in Madhatter’s Review, “Bruise” and “Match.” Two Cities Review is publishing “Our Mothers” in March, and “Fantasy Cheryl” comes out in January in Toad The Journal.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I would like to thank Bop Dead City for doing such great work! Also, thank you for including me in your journal.

Interview with Jeanann Verlee

Hiya readers. In today’s interview, we learn that Jeanann Verlee, author of Issue 9’s poems “The Summer of Supplemental Income” and “Impermanence” have at least one thing in common. I’ll give you a hint: it is not a book coming out, being witty, or having a lovely website. It is tacos though,

Verlee_credit Marshall Goff 2014

How would you describe your work in 25 words or less?

Uhm. Here are 20: Ominous. Whimsy. Grit. Candor. Grief. Hammerkiss. Glamour. Fury. Stamina. Allure. Knuckle. Fever. Asphalt. Heal. Grime. Peril. Regret. Dread. Honest. Sugarblood.

Tell me more about “The Summer of Supplemental Income” and “Impermanence.”

“The Summer of Supplemental Income” details one of the less-than-savory spare jobs I investigated during my most penniless summer in NYC. It was the year of bathtub laundry and leftover banquet scraps. One does what one must, yes?

I consider “Impermanence” to be one of my lighter or even (gasp) positive poems. It investigates a long-held belief that abandonment is part of human nature, as is the ensuing grief and insecurity. While that notion doesn’t naturally feel positive, I find the poem simultaneously examines both the disappointment and exhilaration in change.

Who or what inspires you to write?

I’m categorically “EMO” and as a person with bipolar disorder, that is definitely all caps. If something suckerpunches me emotionally, I can’t not write it.

What do you consider to be your greatest influences?

Mania, rage, depression, abuse, assault, oppression, injustice, idiots.

Do you have a website or a blog for your writing?

Any advice for fellow writers?

Read. Experiment. Revise.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a third manuscript titled, “prey,” which examines predatory behavior and the variable means through which survivors survive.

Where can we read your work next?

My second book, Said the Manic to the Muse, will be released in the spring through Write Bloody Publishing—stay tuned! I also have poems forthcoming at Third Coast, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, and The Journal.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Huge thanks to Bop Dead City for giving my work a home! Also, I love tacos.

Issue 9 Interview with Bobby Steve Baker

Hope everyone’s having an only moderately stressful week before Christmas. I made apple pie moonshine for pretty much everyone on my list, so I’m doing great. Anywho, this begins the late interview season, but we’ll have them all done by New Years (probably). First up, Bobby Steve Baker, who gave us the poem “Old Love Letters.”

Until next time, this is your faithful editor, wishing you a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a crazy Kwanzaa, a tip top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. (Something something solstice too).

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How would you describe your work in 25 words or less?

I would have written a longer answer soon but I didn’t have time. (Poe, I think). I write about the larger issues of the human condition, love, death, sex, betrayal, loyalty, grieving, but I try to do it in a tone that may seem better fit to describing the opposite.

Tell me more about your poem “Old Love Letters.”

I flat out stole the idea for “Old Love Letters” from a friend of mine, Barney Cummings, a terrific singer-song writer in Toronto. I often find myself prompted by phrases and although the song goes a different direction than the poem
(I didn’t steal the words, or even the title) the poem got started with that phrase, I do that a lot. I am told my poems have a natural musicality and rereading them I see it but i am never aware of it at the time. BTW you would look a long time through my work before you found as many rhymes as in this poem, I don’t recall writing in rhyme on purpose, in fact if you asked me directly I would say I don’t like rhymed poetry and certainly don’t write it. So, poems go where they go, sometimes the poet is just along for the ride.

Who or what inspires you to write? As described above I write about people and their passions and fears, I do not write about politics or give social commentary. We have an amazingly rich arts scene here in Lexington, KY which surprises many people. I belong to a couple of writing groups but my first real inspiration to go deeper with my work was from Katerina Stoykova Klemer, who just won the Bulgarian national Book Award. She inspired me to get my MFA in Poetry at my advanced age (I started it at age 58).

What do you consider to be your greatest influences? My greatest influence remains my father even though he died over thirty years ago. He could recite hundred, maybe thousands of lines of poetry and often did at diner. As far as I know he did not write but that is a great pity.

Do you have a website or a blog for your writing? Coincidental that you ask, my wife has finally convinced me to open a web site and write a blog so that will be coming along in the next few months.

Any advice for fellow writers? First and foremost write what you like, I don’t care what critique groups say about a poem; if I like it then it’s a keeper. Beyond that the most important message I have for writers is to read as much as you can and as widely as you can especially but not limited to poetry. My writing habit is to write every day but I know some great poets who may go months without feeling the muse.

What are you currently working on? My new book of poetry and ekphrastic photography comes out in March, “This Crazy Urge To Live” put out by Linnet’s Wings, of course with the lag time in getting a book out I already have the next one ready to start sending around and so I am most hard at work on my third full length book inspired by my thirty five years as a surgeon.

Where can we read your work next?

I have work currently in the yearly Lummox Anthology, the fall editions of Avocet and in the Heartland Review, coming soon are poems in Cold Mountain Review, Stray Branch and Deep Water Literary Review. This may seem like a lot but to all you writers out there I have at least ten and often twenty rejections for every acceptance, so persevere.

Anything else you’d like to add? The one thing I have said that I think bears reiterating is read, read, read, read at least a hundred books for everyone you write. Thanks again Kevin and Bop Dead City (one of the best).