Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Jason Carney: Starve the Vulture

November 10, 2014

Jason Carney, an alumni of the Wilkes Graduate Creative Writing program, is due to release his memoir, Starve the Vulture, in January of 2015 with Kaylie Jones Books. Starve the Vulture has already received excellent feedback, including a review from Kirkus Book Reviews which states, “Carney will easily win sympathy for his life, in which he has persevered to show others the hard work of his salvation.” The novel opens violently, with a car crash happening right before Carney’s eyes, just before a moment of epiphany which leads to Carney’s “grace”. This traumatic experience opens the novel with an enticing sense of danger, consistent with the chaotic uncertainty of Carney’s early life. There is an immediate understanding that the contents of this memoir will not be for the faint of heart. starvethevulturecorrect

Akashic’s website describes the memoir as, “A lyrical, mesmerizing debut from Jason Carney who overcomes his own racism, homophobia, drug addiction, and harrowing brushes with death to find redemption and unlikely fame on the national performance poetry circuit. Woven into Carney’s path to recovery is a powerful family story, depicting the roots of prejudice and dysfunction through several generations.” (You can head to Carney’s page on Akashic’s site by clicking on the book cover to the right.)

One of the most prominent themes in the book is the importance of tolerance and compassion, and how those two things led to Carney’s redemption. Carney learns–through his relationship with an empathetic gay man dying of AIDS–to set his prejudices aside. When Carney does this, it leads to a greater, horrific discovery about the nature of his personal hatred for homosexuals–but instead of getting stuck in his own tragedy, he shares what he has learned about himself and the root of bigotry to students all over the country. Carney teaches others, when we lash out at a group of people, we learn to do so from personal experience and past prejudice.

Recently, Carney had the honor of performing a TED event at Mountain View College near Dallas, Texas. During his talk, he discussed the origins of his family, the hatred he once held for minority groups, and how he was taught to use poetry to define his world. He recites a few of his poems to a completely enraptured crowd, comparing past crimes against minority groups to modern statistics about the disparity between black and white inmates in America. He urges “White America” to have an honest discussion about the continued segregation of minority groups in our country, the silence of hatred, and the lack of conversation that perpetuates it. Carney closes the discussion by stating, “White America needs to have an honest conversation with itself because we segregate ourselves and we talk about freedom.”

I urge readers to check out his talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8ZiB3gjwo8

Carney’s memoir is one of the most important memoirs you will ever read. I encourage everyone to get their hands on this book, which is available for preorder on Amazon. Until then, I was fortunate enough to have Jason Carney answer a few pre-emptive questions I had about the nature of Starve the Vulture, which you can read below!


Tell me a little about your book. What does it mean to you?

Starve the Vulture is the deciphering of the signs of my life. The breaking down of moments to their meaning, when a person takes a look back at their life trapped within severe moments of adversity.

I know that you mostly write poetry–why the switch? Was this a story you had been planning to tell for a long time?

I have been telling this story for 15 years on poetry stages and college campuses. So the progression from poetry to prose seems like a natural one. I had no intention of writing this story until my mother died in 2007. After my plunge into the final throes of addiction and the car wreck, I went to NYC and stayed on long-time friend and American Poets Roger Bon-Air Agard’s couch in Brooklyn. The next thirty days were spent at the Spring Lounge in Manhattan. Eight hours a day, in the back corner with my laptop. From those crazed and drying out hours of writing came 47,000 words which have been molded and revised into the present thread of the story. The original title of the book was Flowers from my Mother’s Funeral.

How was writing this similar to or different from writing poetry?

Similar in the sense that a narrative is a narrative. The poetry slam thrives on narratives, which I think helped me cut to the core of the scenes and not waste time with bullshit that did not belong. I honed my ability to bare my skin in that arena. You cannot hide in front of an audience. After a while, they become part of your writing ritual. I mean the writer brings this influence into the writing process with them.

Was writing this memoir a cathartic experience for you?

In the sense that this book gave me a gift. I wrote it to heal part of myself. This is the gift of this type of project. All writing should be done first for the writer and second for the audience. You cannot give away what you do not have. You cannot manufacture the treasure either, it will manifest the way it wants to in the writer’s life. The gift I received from vulture was not the one for which I wrote it. However, when it presented itself, I fell to my knees in that dorm room in gratitude. I refer to a spiritual gift here—no money or movie option or publishing contract can give this type of gift to you. It must come from the writing. From the universe to the artist, a thank you for the excavation of their bones.

Writing about things does tend to stir up the past and allows old things to resurface in your mind, were there any memories that came back to you that surprised you while writing this?

No not really. That is not true, when I wrote about spending time with my grandparent from the ages of 7-12 on Friday and Saturday nights, I was surprised at the hidden emotions of happiness

that I had denied myself for many years. The chapter was eventually cut from the book, yet when I read those passages I still tear up and cry. Happiness is hard for me.

I know that you had to change a lot of names for the memoir. Is there a concern that the people you’ve written about might recognize themselves and be angry?

I tried to write folks the way I remembered them being. I wanted to change names when discussing illegal acts. I am willing to put my actions out there, but I don’t have a right to expose anyone else. Those involved will recognize themselves, those not involved will not figure their identity. I will not tell them. The names in the book are not clues either. They are just random choices, they hold no secret meaning or metaphor. Cuban came from the lunch I was eating, Yardstick from the yardstick my son was using as a Light-Saber. And so on.

How do you feel the experiences you’ve had have shaped the man you are today?

Everywhere you go there you are. You are the constant in your own life.

Do you ever feel embarrassment in your professional life because of where you’ve come from, or prouder because of the adversity you’ve overcome that others have never been tested with?

I don’t measure myself against you or anyone else. I am unique to me and as common as everyone. No one is more or less than anyone around them. But I offer for you to under-estimate or overlook me. I like to be an unexpected surprise.

I usually make the last question, “What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?” But you have a story so powerful, so interesting, and very unique. I think a better question might be, “What advice do you have for other members of the human race who are faced with adversity?”

In the words of Jimmy V. “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Throwing your arms up into the air is a sign of praise as much as it is a sign of surrender. People should be happy for what gifts they do have, especially amid all the clamoring for what they do not have.


Jason Carney Southern HeritageJason Carney, a performance poet from Dallas, Texas, is a four-time National Poetry Slam Finalist, honored as a Legend of the Slam in 2007. He appeared on three seasons of the HBO television series Russell Simmons’ Def Poets. Jason has performed and lectured at some of our nation’s finest colleges and universities as well as high schools and juvenile detention centers from California to Maine. A graduate of Wilkes University MFA Program for Creative Writing, where he was an honored winner of the Etruscan Prize, the Bergman Foundation Scholarship, and the Norris Church-Mailer Scholarship. He is Co-founder and Artistic Director of the non-profit Young DFW Writers.

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The Girl Who Loved Books and Emdashes

January 29, 2014
The Girl Who Loved Books and Emdashes
Thoughts on the Wilkes Publishing Internship
By Kim Loomis-Bennett
 

I am a reader and being a reader made me a writer. I have loved books forever and they have loved me back. Grammar and punctuation did not love me and I pretended we would never meet again—until a few years ago when I entered the Wilkes M.A./M.F.A. program and began teaching part-time in Washington State.

One of my first gigs was a grammar review class. Learning theories acknowledge that students learn more when they teach a new skill to a classmate. When I had twenty-five students counting on me and I was hired to be the “expert,” I knew that I would never have a better occasion to learn the twenty different ways to use a comma or how sometimes subordination adds a touch of elegance to stale syntax.

As the time to intern with Etruscan Press approached, I was direct and told Phil Brady and Managing Editor Jackie Fowler that I wanted to experience the duties of a proofreader and editor. With a green light, Jackie sent me home with books to read and consider reviewing. A few weeks after residency, my first proofreading task arrived in my Gmail inbox.

editCertainly, proofreading led me down roads I had never planned to go, but I loved each fresh challenge. My main technical question concerned the endash (–) so named because it is the length of the letter n and it is often used between numbers: such as, 3:00–6:00, and the emdash (—) which is defined by the length of an m, and can be used in place of a colon, and commas or parentheses that are placed around nonessential information—or to indicate a long pause. Dashes are entirely optional. When I went through James McCorkle’s poetry manuscript, The Subtle Bodies, I was in love with the language, but had to shut down the content reading part of my brain and look at the mechanics. What I found were endashes and emdashes employed inconsistently. This happens when files are transferred from laptops to desktop pcs. Mr. McCorkle loves his dashes, as do I, so my job as a proofreader for a dash-user just happened to be a good fit. And just a few weeks ago, McCorkle’s uncorrected proof appeared in my mailbox. I saw how what is often unacknowledged work bear fruit in McCorkle’s close-to-publication manuscript; I appreciated that background work is a good fit for me. During the internship, I took an additional brief editorial course and found that I want to go even farther and seek a professional certificate. Eventually, I would love to work as a book editor and shape a manuscript from submission to publication. For now, the unexpected offer to continue with Etruscan Press as a poetry manuscript consultant is satisfying.

My internship duties were primarily divided between proofreading and book reviewing. Before I approached Phil and Jackie about writing book reviews, I brought book review skills that I had begun to hone during my M.A. while reviewing memoirs for alumni Donna Talarico-Beerman’s Hippocampus Magazine, and a poetry review in [PANK] that I landed via another alum, Amye Barrese Archer. I wanted to offer Etruscan Press something in exchange for the chance to experience proofreading.

I worked harder on the book reviews than I expected to. While polishing them, I found my reviewer’s voice: a reader/writer that writes for readers/writers. Silly to say, but before the internship, I hadn’t considered my published book reviews as publishing credits. I followed up venues for book reviewing online sites that were in the Internship course packet. I was excited to see my reviews appear in Founding Editor Lori A. May’s Poet’s Quarterly and The Small Press Book Review.  As I heard back from gracious authors who appreciated the time I took to review their books, I realized that the more I submit my work, and the more conversations that I have with writers, an intimate and reciprocal writing community exists. I may have never considered writing book reviews as a regular goal, but because of breaks given to me by Wilkes alumni and the internship, I will continue reviewing. On February 1st, I am launching a book review blog to feature my wide-range of reading interests and books that I choose, instead of my editors. I can be indulgent and celebrate exceptional writing talent at the same time. I am not saying goodbye to the Wilkes Creative Writing Program as I had expected to. I forged and fostered relationships that weren’t forced but are authentic. One of my writing mentors, Neil Shepard often said to me, “Onward!” and that’s the plan.

Kim Loomis-Bennett is a life-long resident of Washington State, besides a detour into Oregon where she met her husband. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Copperfield Review, Poet’s Quarterly, and Hippocampus Magazine. Recent work is included in The Prose-Poem Project and The Far Field. She has served as poetry editor for River and South Review. Kim also teaches part-time at Centralia College. She has an M.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Her work, Soiled Doves: A Poetic Sequence, published in 2011, is available as an e-book.

An interview with Lori A. May

December 31, 2013
An interview with Lori A. May
By: Heather B. Lowery
loriamay1 - web size

Lori A. May

A woman who can call both Canada and Detroit home is a woman who must be well rounded. Lori A. May, poet, performer, speaker, instructor, is a jack-of-all-trades—at least when it comes to the writing, marketing, publishing, speaking side of things. So pretty much anything that has to do with communication Lori has on lockdown.

Lori A. May writes across the genres, edits, teaches and travels as a frequent guest speaker. If you want to know how to save a buck she can spout out a list of fifty tips in less than two minutes. You can find her work in print and online with publications like Brevity, The Writer, Phoebe, Writer’s Digest and The Atlantic.  

Lori has a new collection, Square Feet, out in January 2014 by Accents Publishing. In the following interview, Lori shares what her writing process entails, details about her collection and gives advice to struggling writers.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? And how long did it take you embrace it?

Of course I wrote when I was a kid and that’s really when the desire to be a writer grew within, but I’d say I started taking writing—as a vocation—more seriously when I was in my early to mid 20s. There was definitely a time when I wrote only for myself that transitioned into wanting to share my work with others and seek publication. That grew very quickly into thinking how nice it would be to do this in a full-time capacity. Once I had proven to myself that I could finish a book-length manuscript, it became very clear to me that I had to find a way to make this writing gig a permanent and prioritized part of my life.

What does your writing process look like?

crumpled-paper

It’s messy. From idea discovery to complete draft, there’s complete disorganization in between. Or, so it may seem from the outside. I tinker a lot and let things simmer; I go back and forth between projects and seem to be all over the place. Then, one day, I’ll have this moment where I realize how close to first-draft-finished a project is and I’ll wonder how it all came together. That sounds magical and it’s not at all. For me it’s more of a trust in the organic mess, that what starts off in clunky drafts gradually grows into something better. I guess that’s why it’s called a process and not something more definitive.

You are a writer of many genres. Do you see a merging of genres in your work?

At times, yes. When I’m writing poetry, I let the draft take shape but then I step back to see what the story is arising from the verse, then use that to revise and tweak. When I’m working on prose, I’ll poke around at the draft material to revision how I might improve word choice and sound quality—like I would with poetry. I think all writing feeds itself.

What motivates you to sit down and write even when you don’t feel inspired?

I remind myself how fortunate I am to write. To have that leisure to write any time, all day, or not at all. Writing is my choice, my pleasure. Sure, there are times that I don’t feel like writing or, more accurately, like sitting at my desk. Writing is work. It is never perfect, not in the beginning, nor in its final draft. It takes effort and patience and, as Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Inspiration is overrated. Persistence gets the work done.

SqFt_LoriAMayYour new collection is called Square Feet. Where did you get the idea for that title?

The title came to me fairly early on in the process. I had been working on a few poems about life behind closed doors—where we laugh and share secrets, where we grieve openly without shame. I found myself working on the human component, yes, but also looking at those domestic objects that surround us and either comfort or irritate us: utensils, furniture, photo albums. The title was a gift, dropped in my lap from the working subconscious, and once I had it on my tongue I knew I had a direction with the full manuscript. It rarely works that way for me, by the way.

You have a good number of poems that deal with co-existence: spouses living together, partners trying to make it work, family members visiting, etc. It is interesting to see how all of those relationships are different, and yet have the same struggles in common, accommodation and compromise being two major themes. How did you come to those conclusions?

I don’t know that I did so with intention, but at the end of the day aren’t we all the same? Aren’t we all after the same things—love, acceptance, a sense of security within ourselves and in our lives? These things are possible, sure, but they often require compromise. I think Square Feet shows how our lives touch one another—for better, for worse—and respond to one another, particularly in small or private spaces.

Any advice for writers who are struggling to finish a piece of work for whatever reason—boredom, pain, exhaustion, time, etc?

I’m easily distracted so it’s not uncommon for me to work on a project ten or fifteen minutes and then lose focus. When that happens, I give myself a choice: continue to work on Project A or shift focus to Project B and so on. It’s good to have multiple projects on the go. There’s always something to work on. Writing needs time to breathe and simmer on its own, so if something is giving me a hard time I’ll adjust focus and move on to something else. But I try not to abandon projects, unless I know I’ve hit a wall and don’t want to break through it. I think, for all writers and especially emerging writers, it’s important to remember to have fun and not put too much pressure on one’s self. The writing will come, in time, and it’s okay to take a break from something. Find something else that moves you for the time being.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’m excited about 2014! I’ll be traveling often and working on a number of projects. I’m also thrilled to say I have another book coming out at the end of the year. In December 2014, I’ll have a new nonfiction book out with Bloomsbury. More details will be shared on my website, www.loriamay.com, very soon!

Where can interested readers get a copy of Square Feet?

I’d love to see readers pick up the book direct from Accents Publishing, but an indie bookseller can make sure the book is ordered and/or delivered. Of course, readers can also find Square Feet on Amazon or at their local Barnes & Noble. The B&N in Wilkes-Barre PA has some copies in stock, too. During AWP in Seattle, I’ll be signing copies of Square Feet at the Accents Publishing table in the bookfair (AA3) on Thursday Feb 27, from 12-1pm and books will be available there all weekend. Signed copies can also be purchased directly from my website: http://www.loriamay.com.


Photo credit for crumpled paper: acrumpledpaper.wordpress.com

Interview with poet Loren Kleinman

December 25, 2013

Loren_NYC-8

Loren Kleinman is a young, American-born poet with roots in New Jersey. Her poetry explores the results of love and loss, and how both themes affect an individual’s internal and external voice.  She has a B.A. in English Literature from Drew University and an M.A. in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Sussex (UK). Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Writer’s Bloc, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review (PLR), Resurgence (UK), HerCircleEzine and Aesthetica Annual. She was the recipient of the Spire Press Poetry Prize (2003), was a 2000 and 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee, and was a 2004 Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Prize finalist for poetry.

In 2003, Spire Press (NYC) published her first collection of poetry Flamenco Sketches, which explored the relationship between love and jazz. Kleinman judged the literary entries for the book  Alt-History: New Writing from Brighton published by QueenSpark Books (UK). She was also a contributing editor/writer for the Cancer Dancer by Patricia San Pedro. Kleinman is also a columnist for IndieReader.com (IR) where she interviews NYT bestselling indie authors. Many of those interviews in IR reappeared in USA Today and The Huffington Post.

Her second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs,  is due to release in 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). She is also working on a New Adult literary romance novel, This Way to Forever; and a collection of interviews and essays that explore the vibrant community of indie authors called Indie Authors Naked: Essays and Interviews on the Indie Book Community  (Publisher: IndieReader).

Kleinman recently presented a two-day seminar at Sentences 5: A Conference on Writing Prose at Drew University in July 2013. She also owns and operates a small, boutique editorial firm, LK Editorial, where she edits poetry, offers social media services, and instructional design consultations.

Kleinman shares insight into her writing life and news about her latest book here on The Write Life.

Hi, Loren. What can you tell us about your forthcoming book, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs?

My second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, is due to release in March 2014 by Winter Goose Publishing. It took me seven years to finish. The collectionattempts to bear witness to trauma and its healing process. Trauma survivors will clearly remain tortured as bodily wounds may heal, but the wounded psyche bears witness to years of reconstruction.  I’m exploring love and loss. I’m trying to find its language. The Dark Cave Between My Ribs will appeal especially to those craving an authentic voice that is at the same time raw and universal.

You’re also working on a novel, aren’t you? How do you balance the time and energy in writing for multiple genres? Have you always wanted to write for multiple audiences?

I just finished a New Adult literary romance novel, This Way to Forever and am seeking representation.  The novel explores how young people deal with love and ambition and the choices that come with each.  Other themes the novel explores are choosing romantic love over security, love as an ideology, and long distance love/dealing with long distance relationships.

Finally, I have a collection of interviews and essays that explore the vibrant community of indie authors called Indie Authors Naked: Essays and Interviews on the Indie Book Community (Publisher: IndieReader). Indie Authors Naked explores and defines the world of independent publishing.  Comprised of a series of essays and interviews by indie authors, booksellers and publishers, readers will get a look at the many aspects of the indie community, where publishing professionals of all types come together with the simple goal of creating something unique; something that speaks directly to the reader, no middleman necessary.  Contributors include James Franco, Hugh Howey, McNally Jackson Books, Sarah Gerard, OHWOW Books, Raine Miller, David Vinjamuri, Toby Neal, Rachel Thompson, Eden Baylee, Christoph Paul, Jessica Redmerski, and more. The book is due to release 1/15/2014.

I’m very territorial about my time. I take one day off a week from writing, which is Saturday. The rest of the week I work full-time and write after work. When I take breaks from writing, I’m reading a lot. The only way to keep to schedule is through discipline. I keep my energy by working out and eating a mostly organic diet. Your body is a tool. You have to maintain it in order to function at your best. Anyone can write. It’s another thing to be in the place to write.

As far as writing for multiple audiences, it’s always been something I considered, but have been too afraid to try. I’ve always written poetry, and thought I could never write fiction. Really I was terrified. Fiction is scary. It’s a beast. And you have to outline. You can’t mess around. I wrote the first line of something: Everything we know is fiction. Even love. I showed it to my close friend and fiction editor and he said, “You’ve got something here.” A year later I finished my first novel This Way to Forever.

My point is, it’s important to be verse in different genres. While it’s scary, you have to keep readers surprised. I cried through most of the re-writing of the novel. It was awful. But I did it.

You’re a busy freelancer, too. Can you tell me about LK Editorial and what sort of services you offer?

LK Editorial is a small editorial firm that specializes in select projects. I primarily work on press releases, media kits, bios, LinkedIn profile writing, and poetry collection edits. I also manage a writing program at an NJ college so I’m incredibly active. Right now I taking more time for my writing, and being even more selective about the types of projects I take on. Again, I have to be territorial about my creative life.

You also conduct an interview series and so much more. How has freelance writing and editing contributed to your overall writing life? Do you ever feel these activities distract from the creative writing?

I feel that they add to my writing life. It’s important to network, to develop your community and be a part of a creative community. The more people I meet, the more exposed I become to what’s trending or up-and-coming. I schedule all of my interviews at least 6 months in advance so I can keep on track. So, it’s also about planning out your time so you can get your own work done.

Essentially, the blog, Twitter and Facebook keep me connected to readers and writers. If you are writer or another creative, you MUST plug into social media. It’s the only way you are going to reach readers. And it’s not a sad truth, just the truth. I’ve met so many fantastic people via social media and through all of the interviews I’ve done. It’s an important aspect of who I am. Naturally curious.

I also believe in forming alliances, in supporting each other through the writing process. I mean, seriously, it’s scary sometimes and mysterious. I feel less alone when I interview someone and they say the same thing I was thinking. Or they something uplifting and charming. It’s great. It’s such a snapshot of life. They always make want to write more.  True story.

Where can readers learn more about your work? Do you have any links to poems or other work available online?

Readers can follow me on Twitter for updates. The best is to keep checking the website. I have sample poems on my site and links to all interviews and publications.

So stop by any of these platforms to say hi:

Website: www.lorenkleinman.com

Winter Goose Publishing Author Page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/loren-kleinman/

IndieReader Column: http://indiereader.com/category/columns/loren-kleinman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorenKleinman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorenkleinman1?ref=hl

Email: lorenkleinman@yahoo.com

Tumblr: http://lorenkleinman.tumblr.com/

Brooklynite gives back: Lowery interviews Florio

November 20, 2013

Interview with Patricia Florio, by Heather Lowery

Patricia Florio

Patricia Florio

Patricia Florio’s book My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes was released this November. A recent graduate from the Wilkes University creative writing program, Florio reveals how her experience at Wilkes helped shape her into the writer she has become. From Brooklyn to Jersey, Florio is doing great things in the creative writing community.

Heather Lowery: Your book, My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes, was just recently released this November. How does it feel to have your work out there in the open?

Patricia Florio: My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes is a spinoff of my original MA thesis at Wilkes. The idea for the book was inspired in my 510 nonfiction class with John Bowers. I guess it was the way I shared the scenario with the class, “My mother gave me to her sister after I was born.” That sentence triggered a whole lot of conversation between friends and cohorts from other classes that I shared the idea with, and the idea constantly churned inside my head in stages of how I would sit in front of the computer and write this all down trying to make sense of it.

HL: With memoir, the potential of revealing something about yourself that a small amount of people, and sometimes no one else, knows about you can be paralyzing. How did you overcome this fear?

PF: It felt a bit odd writing about my family, to actually expose one’s self to whatever type of criticism from peers. For one thing, there was a part in the book that a kidnapping took place, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about that fact. I backed away from writing the book for several weeks, trying to come up with another idea for my thesis, until I could figure out how to handle this much talk about family situations. When it was clearer in my mind, and without using names, or I should say giving this particular family member, the kidnapper, a different title, Uncle Sly Fox, I was able to live with the fact that in memoir the facts have to be true, the names didn’t have to be. So I continued moving My Two Mothersforward writing. But for a while there, I thought I was going to chuck out a year’s worth of writing. Then I remembered why I was writing this book: I wanted to acknowledge both of these women, pay them a tribute for raising me the way they had with all the difficulties like “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the …” Yes, I was doted on by Aunt Jennie. I also knew I was loved by her. It made me feel privileged, even to this day, to have two mothers at different parts of my day, every day of my life.

HL: Where did you get the idea for your title?

PF: The title is from the second chapter and a sentence in the book, “When I came into the world, I came in having two mothers.” My mother’s oldest sister Jennie, whom I called Nanny, couldn’t have children of her own, and my mother already had two older children, my sister and brother (my sister 15, my brother 10). We all lived in the same three-family house, in different apartments. My mother handed me over to her sister Jennie, “on loan, that is, to care for me.” For the first fourteen years of my life I had two mothers.

HL: What does your writing process look like?

PF: I grab time at the computer every day, perhaps not at the same hour of the day, but shortly after I awake I open up the computer and write something. It could be a continuation of what I left off the day before, or it can be an idea I have for entering a short story contest, or it could be a travel piece.

I write for www.stripedpot.com and I like to travel; living on the Jersey Shore gives me access for picture-taking, trying out new restaurants along the shore, and writing about those places for my articles. I read a lot. Sometimes I can have one audio book going in the car. Right now it’s Dr. Sleep by Stephen King; another book by J. Michael Lennon, A Double Life, Norman Mailer’s biography; and even something different to read before bed, like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Wishes Fulfilled. And I take notes, lots of notes, when I’m listening or reading books. It’s an occupational hazard from being a court reporter for seventeen years. I write everything down. It gives me fodder, new words, a bit of wisdom from authors who are up there in the industry.

HL: Is there are particular mindset, or a frame of mind, you need to be in to write?

PF: I have to have the house to myself. So when my husband is off to work and the house is quiet, I love that time most of all to write. It’s not that I’m glued to the screen, because I do find myself going down to the laundry room in the middle of a chapter to put in a load of wash. It’s just the way my brain works. There’s no daytime television for me. I can’t do it. I take after my birth mother on that score. She never watched daytime television until she was 90, and I don’t either. It gives me the ability to get into what I’m writing without distraction. There are literally days that I forget to go down and eat breakfast or lunch. Oh, I make up for it later on in the day, but I’m so into what I’m writing. I’m there with these people in my book that I don’t want to leave the feelings, the joy, the occasional tears, so I stay in the moment and let it happen.

HL: What was it like growing up in Brooklyn? How has that affected your writing?

PF: A lot of who I was as a child growing up in Brooklyn comes out in this book. The ethnicity of growing up in an Italian ghetto absolutely has affected my writing. At some point, I’d love Brooklyn to be the main character of a book I write, and maybe it is a bit in My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes. The food is definitely Italian-Brooklyn, the smell of meatballs frying on a Sunday morning, not only from my mother’s window, but from the entire neighborhood of Italian women’s windows. And yet, I was tremendously influenced by my Irish neighbors, nuns, priests, my sister’s husband’s family who are Irish and very much a part of my life. Brooklyn is neighborhood living. You’re outside in fresh air amongst people, sitting on the stoop in spring, summer and fall. You’re not in a backyard. The kids played softball, baseball in the school yard across the street from our house, stickball in the street. You talked to people, interacted, shared stories. I think it was a freer time. You knew who your neighbors were. The peddler who sold groceries, his wife comes in as a named person in my book when I was lost. She knew me even though I was out of my neighborhood at a faraway movie theater. She came to my rescue. It was a different world in Brooklyn.

I was also influenced by osmosis by all of the other well-known writers who came from Brooklyn. I think about working as a court reporter in a courthouse on Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, surrounded by the energy of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Burroughs, Walt Whitman, and so many others. I’ll always have Brooklyn!

HL: I saw that you studied creative nonfiction at Wilkes University as part of the MA. How has that experience influenced you?

PF: Wilkes was a very important step for me. I came back to school late in life. My father never believed in college education for women. Obviously, he was from the World War II generation: women get married, so why waste the money on higher education? I took myself out of court reporting in the year 2000, just upped and quit because I had been taking courses in the community college—creative writing, and the whole gamut of journalism. Then I went to Rutgers, which took seven years piecemeal to graduate. And then my friend Carol found the Wilkes MA and MFA programs. We went together and completed both the MA and MFA. During that time, I wrote for local and major newspapers as a freelancer. Not a stringer, just a freelancer, until I landed the Scene Page for the Two River Times, making $75 an article. At Wilkes, although I felt I made a big mistake in taking screenwriting, my nonfiction classes were the best. First working with John Bowers, then selecting Rashidah Ismaili as my MA mentor (who made weekend house calls), and then Phil Brady for my academic paper on Survivors in Memoir, I had a ball. I loved it, the good, the bad and the ugly; it had to be one of the best times in my life. Of course, the 501 Cohort with Nancy and Mike is some of the best care an aspiring writer can get. I am still in touch and visit with students, some of whom I know will be friends for life.

HL: I also heard that you have a reading series and a writing group in New Jersey?

PF: Back in the year 2000, Carol MacAllister, also a Wilkes alumna, and Gayle Aanensen and I formed what we called Tri-Muse. We three encourage one another and eventually sparked an interest because we turned into approximately 18 writers who are now called The Jersey Shore Writers at The Jersey Shore Art Center. We have found our voices collectively and individually. We are quite a group, critiquing, listening, supporting one another, as well as our arts center, where every form of art takes place.

Irene Maran, another Jersey Shore writer and newspaper columnist of A Slice of Life, and I put together what we named Literary Adventure at the Belmar Arts Center where we selected several Wilkes students and paired them up with our Jersey writers for a great Sunday afternoon of authors’ readings. After a year or so, our Arts Center in Ocean Grove got jealous and said, “Hey, how about sharing those writers in our venue.” And this year we have been exclusively bringing authors and writers in from the Noir series of Akashic Books, Johnny Temple’s company. Monique Lewis, another Wilkes alumna, runs At the Inkwell Series in Manhattan. Monique has introduced some of her NYC writers of noir, and it gave The Jersey Shore Writers a challenge to write noir stories—crime, mystery, and so on. Two weeks ago we put on an event for ourselves and a very interested audience, Taste of Noir—along with some tasty noir treats—we gave our audience a taste of our noir stories. Hopefully, this series will be published as an anthology by the Jersey Shore Writers.

HL: How important are reading groups and gatherings like that of the Jersey Shore Writers to the idea of “community literacy?”

PF: In our particular area of the Jersey Shore, I see lots of senior citizens coming to these readings, like this is something from the story-telling era of their past. For them it’s a social event, and an informative event where individuals can, and do, chat with authors, featured readers and other participants to discuss books and their own attempt at writing. Many times, they share a poem or a story at open mic that they’ve written, becoming part of the fabric of writers in the community. It makes me feel good that they are interested and want to become part of the Jersey Shore Writers in their own capacity. We, as a group, have been invited to take part with a group of artists to put words to pictures. We’ve become an extension in the community. And while we can’t attend everything, or have a literary adventure series everywhere, we are a stronghold in the community at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.

This past September I had reached out to teens who were interested in writing and have held two workshops thus far. My hope is to add younger writers into the mix, with their own workshops and their own separate meeting date. As the writer-in-residence for the Jersey Shore Arts Center, I’m hopeful that this teen program will come to fruition in the future. I will be approaching the Cape Meeting Association, the body that governs our town, this spring to present this idea to the Youth Movement at the Youth Temple in Ocean Grove.

My hope was always to help emerging writers and authors to have a place to share their work, whether you’ve been published or not. I just love being with other writers. And I know the Jersey Shore Writers are happy to meet writers from other states and cities. We network together to learn about agents, publishers, about who’s looking for what genre. We’ve broadened our horizons and we’ve now captured the attention of our beach community neighbors to see who we’re bringing in next to read.

We’ve had so many Wilkes writers and authors to the Shore: Bev Donofrio, Charles Salzberg, Kenneth Wishnia, Anne Henry, Brian Fanelli, Monique Lewis, Jackie Fowler, Amye Archer, Joe Wade, Gale Martin, Dawn Leas, and Jackie Nash, among others. I’m probably forgetting some names, and I’m sorry about that. But coming up on December 8th [will be] J. Michael Lennon, Ross Klavan, Brian Fanelli, all three with new books. This is not work for me. It’s a joyful occasion when I get a ‘yes’ from an author to come to Ocean Grove, to the Arts Center or to Belmar Arts Council to read from their latest books.

How important community literacy is to me and others? I see it as a colorful mixture of talent from the veteran writer to the writer just getting their feet wet, starting their process for the first time; they are on my color chart of writers.

HL: What are you working on now? What is next for you?

PF: I’ve been working on another memoir I’ve called Searching for the Man in the Gray Fedora. I’m giving my father his due in the next memoir. Sometimes I think I’ve given the impression that I was actually raised by two mothers, totally independent of a man. Well, that’s not true. Although, it’s taking me time to figure out this book, several years now, and I did send it out to an agent with a proposal, the prologue, and three chapters. I received a response from the agent that they admired my voice and the premise of the book, but it felt jumpy to them. They suggested I work harder on a narrative arc. So it’s back to the drawing board.

And the other idea I have is for a narrative poetry book called Confessions of a Court Reporter. I seem to be picking this up more often than not. The whole idea of being able to tell a detailed story in poetry has captivated me. Trust me, I’m not a poet, but I’m learning. And that’s another thing about me, I enjoy learning. My husband would laugh at that comment, and say, “Give it a break!”   

HL: Where can interested readers get a copy of My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes?

Cucina D'AmeliaPF: Right now the ebook can be purchased on Amazon, either as My Two Mothers, My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes, or just the cookbook, Cucina d’ Amelia. We are hopeful the print version will be out before the holidays.    

HL: Anything else you would like to add?

PF: Thanks for asking me these questions. It’s given me an opportunity to look at myself as a writer, honestly and completely. And to take a candid look at how much writers mean to me. I admire a human being who can sit in a chair in front of a computer, solo, endless amount of hours and bring a humorous, heartfelt, fiction or nonfiction piece of work to fruition. In the Italian sense of who I am, I say Brava to that woman and Bravo to that man.

Brian Fanelli: All That Remains

October 30, 2013

All That Remains Front CoverAlum Brian Fanelli has just released a new poetry book, All That Remains (Unbound Content). Here, in this Q&A, we catch up with Brian about the new collection, as well as some of his current events.

Tell us about your new book, All That Remains.
The process of All That Remains started while I was completing my M.F.A. at Wilkes. I had poems that ended up becoming my chapbook Front Man, but then I had poems that didn’t fit that manuscript and its very specific theme. So, after I graduated from Wilkes, I continued writing and revising poems and, eventually, I had enough commonality between the poems to build a full-length collection. It was a process that took five or so years. When the book was done, I researched different publishers and presses and discovered Unbound Content through Poets & Writers. Not only do I like what they publish, but also the way they interact with writers. It’s been a great process leading up to this point.

Were some of the poems in the book previously published in journals? Where might readers find a few samples of your work?
About 3/4 of the poems first appeared in other publications. Some of the poems appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Portland Review, Third Wednesday, Harpur Palate, vox poetica, and a lot of other print and online journals. Some of the links can be found on my blog, All the Right Notes, or through a simple Google search.

Will there be a launch event anywhere? Any other events and readings planned?
[I had] a launch party on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Vintage Theater in downtown Scranton. I am reading at the Seeley Memorial Library at Lackawanna College on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. and at the Hoyt Library in Kingston, PA Nov. 18 at 6:30 with Amye Archer and Rick Priebe. Then I have several readings out of the area, including in New Jersey, New York City, and other parts of PA. I’m reading at the KGB Bar on January 8 as part of the At the Inkwell reading series, which was launched by Monique Lewis, a Wilkes alum. On Dec. 8, I’m reading with Dr. Lennon and Ross Klavan, two Wilkes faculty members, at the Belmar Arts Council in New Jersey. This reading series was started by Pat Florio, another Wilkes alum. I’m grateful to have made these connections while at Wilkes and thrilled that so many of the program’s current students and alumni are hosting reading series in their communities. All of my other reading dates and events can be found under the events section of my website, www.brianfanelli.com.

Congrats, too, on the NEPA BlogCon nomination for your blog. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Where else can readers find you online?
My blog started as a way to have a conversation about poetry and post various tidbits and news about what’s going on in the poetry world. I also use it as a space to post information about my own writing process and events happening in the local poetry community. There is a link to the blog on my website, or through the direct website: http://brianfanelli.wordpress.com/.

Online shoppers will find All That Remains available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

poetry manuscript evaluation

October 9, 2013

accents publishing

Accents Publishing is currently offering manuscript evaluation services.

For a limited amount of time, for a limited number of manuscripts, they are providing interested poets with feedback on their work-in-progress.

After the author submits a manuscript for evaluation, the senior editor of Accents Publishing (Katerina Stoykova-Klemer) and another reader affiliated with the press will read the manuscript and provide an evaluation, covering the following points:

  • How well does the manuscript work as a whole?
  • Are the poems ordered in the best possible way?
  • Does it have a good title? How does the title work/interact with the manuscript?
  • Does it read well as a book? If not, what is missing?
  • Are there any poems that do not serve the manuscript or are not as effective as the rest?
  • What else should the poet do before he/she starts sending the manuscript out for publication?
  • Comments on competitiveness of the manuscript in the current market.
  • Anything else that may helpful to the author.

Cost is $100 for a chapbook-length manuscript and $150 for a full-length manuscript. A limited number of manuscripts will be evaluated on a first-come first-served basis.

etceteras_mistress_frontcover_medIf interested, write to accents.publishing@gmail.com. Please note that you are not submitting a manuscript for consideration for publication by Accents. Rather, this service is an opportunity to receive a professional opinion on the quality and marketability of the manuscript.

The Wilkes writing community will recognize Accents Publishing, as they recently published advisory board member Thom Ward’s full-length collection, Etcetera’s Mistress.

Introducing Northampton House Press

May 1, 2013

Northampton House Press LLC, a company founded in 2011, is buzzing with activity–and involvement from the Wilkes commuity.

EmpyresNew titles includes Blood & Honor by Wilkes alum Chelle Ang, Ordinary Angels by Joan La Blanc, The Mirror of Aberrantine from alum C. M. Mullane (Chad Mullen), and Empyres: Bloodblind by Wilkes alum John Koloski.

“It’s thrilling to see my book become a reality,” Koloski said. “I thought nothing could compare to seeing the e-book online, but then I held my first galley copy! That beautiful glossy paperback came with a note from Dave Poyer stating that there’s nothing like a new book in one’s hand. He was absolutely right!”

Koloski has also taken on the role of Science Fiction and Horror acquisitions editor, while Joan La Blanc acquires Romance, Wilkes faculty member Bob Arthur manages Poetry acquisitions, and David Poyer acquires all other genres.angels

The Wilkes connection to Northampton House Press doesn’t end there. Poyer said, “Works are in production from Neil Shepard, Rashidah Abu-Bakr, and Ken Vose, along with several books by graduated program members.” This semester, Wilkes student William Horn is interning with the publishing house.

“Northampton House publishes carefully selected fiction—historical, romance, thrillers, fantasy—and lifestyle nonfiction, memoir, and poetry,” Poyer said. “Its mission is to discover great new writers, especially those graduated from accredited MA/MFA programs who have not yet achieved commercial recognition, and give them a chance to springboard into fame.”

arthurThe publisher aims to bring something new to the marketplace and to readers, particularly the kind of works that may be overlooked by large trade houses. “Watch the Northampton House list at www.northampton-house.com,” Poyer said, “and Like us on Facebook to discover more innovative works of high quality from brilliant new writers.”

Kait Burrier interviews Crystal Hoffman

April 10, 2013

Typewriters, Pilgrims, and Poetry:

An Interview with Crystal Hoffman

By Kait Burrier

Crystal Hoffman has led poetry workshops across the country, from public libraries to Burning Man Arts and Music Festival. She has taught at cover-sulfurwaterAmerican University of Beirut. Poems from her chapbook Sulfur Water (2012, Hyacinth Girl Press) have been translated into three languages. Hoffman studied creative writing at Carlow University and earned her M.A. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is currently walking across the United States, gathering and scattering American myths via poetry.

Hoffman began her journey on March 25th, 2013, equipping herself with a tent, a change of clothes, an Olivetti 32 typewriter, and a modified cart affectionately named Connie. She left western Pennsylvania and is headed toward the Pacific northwest on what she anticipates will be a 6 month long journey spanning 2,550 miles on foot. She may be one of the few people who clicks the pedestrian icon while long-distance Google-mapping.

Crystal intends to revive the American myth and engage interested strangers in acts of poetry, much like she did as a founding member of the Typewriter Girls Cabaret. Along with poet Margaret Bashaar, Hoffman organized cabarets focused onparticipatory compositions. Many Typewriter Girls performances included various performing artists and writing games like Exquisite Corpse, and each event began with a typewriter at the door where, upon entering, audience members contributed a phrase to a collective poem.

In her Poetry Pilgrim Project, Crystal will engage in narrative therapy techniques with willing storytellers. Each poem will reflect that individual’s “hero’s journey” in the form of a poem. Crystal will type the poetry on card-stock, tie it with a ribbon, and present it to the individual, unearthing collective glorified narratives that will upturn a trail of American mythologyforged by poetry.

Kait BurrierPhoto: Jason Riedmiller

Kait Burrier
Photo: Jason Riedmiller

I recently had the opportunity to ask Crystal about her write life and about the Poetry Pilgrim Project:

Kait Burrier: You’re a poet, a performance artist, a teacher, an activist—how has all of this informed your writing?

Crystal Hoffman: When I write, I typically hear a voice speaking the words in my head. If I don’t or I’m concerned that something needs altered from how it came out originally, I will repeat it over and over out loud until it sounds right. This sometimes makes me look like a psycho in coffee shops—adds color to the place. I blame this need to hear on how central performance has been to my creative career.

As an activist, I attempt to resolve the paradoxes that frustrate me most in my work. I write poems that I wouldn’t call “issue” poems necessarily, but they attempt to work out why certain injustices and absurdities occur through narrative and images—not necessarily consciously, but they come up. The actual experience of protest I also find to be a poetic one, an energizing one, one wherein you can hear the magic of certain phrases.

There is also a beautiful absurdity to it. I used to be the one always itching for the game to be stepped up, looking for confrontation, hoping for a battle. It was in this space where I could see very clearly how I try to write the situations around me and get frustrated when I can’t manifest them. I have a lot of need for the control of my own story. I’m trying to get over this.

Crystal Hoffmanpoetrypilgrim.com

Crystal Hoffman
poetrypilgrim.com

In terms of being a teacher, I think that I’ve learned more about writing from teaching poetry at the American University of Beirut than I have in all of my schooling—preparing the classes, clarifying concepts for students, grading, re-evaluating my own standards, being forced to assess things I wouldn’t typically read. It was radical. It was possibly the most vital experience of my life.

KB: You are a founding member of the Typewriter Girls. Will you share about this experience?

CH: The Typewriter Girls were my central creative project for about five years. It was a beautiful thing. I was able to utilize the performances to serve as an outlet for nearly all of my creative urges: comedy, collaboration, theater, poetry, dancing, games, performance pieces, even writing the press releases became a pleasure—I wrote them like stories, absurd ones, and people responded to them!

However, this was also problematic, as it came to consume too much of my creative energy, which made me angry, as I became too attached… It was a rush, but a draining one. Margaret (Bashaar, of Hyacinth Girl Press) and I are actually planning on doing a reunion show, but we’re not going to be doing them regularly as we were before. I would love to start writing sketch comedy again and writing scripts for performance art pieces, but I think I’d like to do it as a part of festivals or in someone’s already established troupe.

I see this walk as almost the opposite of the Typewriter Girls, despite the fact that the interview-poem process I will be writing along the way was developed through them.

KB: You have been active in multiple cities across the country in alternative poetry readings. You have taught both locally and abroad. Now you will travel across the country on your own with a typewriter. What do you hope to find? What do you hope to share? Do you have any plans or will you take a day-to-day approach?

CH: I’m definitely taking the day-to-day approach. I know that I’m going to be taking the Great American Discovery Trail at first through West Virginia and to Cincinnati. At that point, I’m going to see what feels right. Hopefully, I can head north from there and get to Montana by July. The only big thing that I want to make is the Rainbow Gathering, but it’s not a huge deal if I don’t. I’m going to try to set up last minute readings/writing sessions as I get a better idea of my timeline, but for now, it’s nebulous. Anything can happen. I like that.

www.poetrypilgrim.com

poetrypilgrim.com

***

If you’re feeling generous, you can donate to Crystal Hoffman’s Kickstarter here: http://www.poetrypilgrim.com/ 

If you’re still feeling generous and want to give her a pair of new walking shoes in exchange for a poem, or if you just want to see what she is up to, you can see Poetry Pilgrim Project updates here: http://www.poetrypilgrim.com/

Kait Burrier is an MFA candidate in the Wilkes Creative Writing Program. She and photographer Jason Riedmiller travel near, far, and further to bring NEPA the latest in live music. Pick up a copy of the Weekender or check www.theweekender.com for updates.

The Next Big Thing: Philip Brady

February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

Philip Brady: “The Next Big Thing” Blog Hop

 “The Next Big Thing” is a blog hop in which authors around the world share what they’re working on by responding to ten questions. Wilkes faculty member Philip Brady responds to questions below. He was invited by Carol Moldaw, whose Next Big Thing post can be found here

 

Phil Brady

Phil Brady

What is your working title of your book?

To Banquet with the Worthy Ethiopians: a memoir of life before the alphabet.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The phrase comes from Homer. It appears in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and refers to the Gods’ habit of retreating from human affairs in times of crisis. But the idea for a long poem came in the Fall of 2010 after major heart surgery. The recuperation gave me months of time off from teaching and directing Etruscan Press and the YSU Poetry Center. Months off from real life of any kind, really. It also changed my relationship to my body. I was weak, dreamy. In many ways, I became a boy again. It was just like the endless afternoons I spent rocking in front of the hi fi listening to Irish music. I lived in Queens, and understood none of it. It was a way of sailing from the world—reveling in the higher nonsense; finding in rhythm a charm against time’s surge. Amidst the violent conflicts of boyhood, it was my way of banqueting with the Ethiopians. During the months recovering from surgery, sitting in my rocker in front of the fire, I felt again like that boy, rocking and chanting.  And when I reviewed the many pages of the prose memoir I’d been struggling to write, they seemed so….prolix; prosaic; so slow and dense and stolid. After having been, briefly, dead, who’d care about all that stuff?  And I remembered a summer in camp when I was twelve, trying and failing to read a prose translation of the Iliad by W.H.D. Rouse. Only now do I realize that it was the prose, not the story, that was difficult. And so I started to transpose my own prosy life into another key. 

What genre does your book fall under?

The book is composed from questions about genre. Are genres sets of conventions and practices? Are they traditions? Or do they emerge from various entwined impulses: to sing, to yarn, to explain, to remember, to marvel? Homer and the works that emerge from the oral tradition do all these things. To Banquet with the Worthy Ethiopians aspires to that condition. It’s a long poem, and a novel-in-verse, and a memoir-in-myth. Timothy Findley puts it best. “I didn’t know quite how to tell this story,” he writes, “until I realized that if I were Homer, I’d have recognized that it isn’t just the story of men and women, but of men and women and the gods to whom they are obedient, and told best through the evocation of icons. So what I must do is transpose this story, which is history, into another key, which is mythology.”

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There have been great movies about the Iliad and Odyssey. Some of my favorites are Ulysees with Kirk Douglas, Troy with Brad Pitt (mentioned in my poem), and Brother Where Art Thou with George Clooney. And of course various adaptations abound.  But I remain an unrepentant John Wayne fan, pilgrim.

What is the synopsis of your book?

The tale takes place at the border between myth and time, between childhood and adulthood, between orality and literature. Following a heart attack, an aging ‘scrivener’ broods on a list folded in a copy of the Iliad. Item 265 reads simply, “Thersites,” a foot soldier whining to go home.  The scrivener recalls the summer he first encountered the Iliad. Though overwhelmed by W.H.D. Rouse’s turgid prose, he gleaned enough to realize that the Trojan War, with all its violence and intrigue, was being waged on a smaller scale at his summer camp.

To Banquet with the Worthy Ethiopians blends Homer’s discovery of the alphabet with a man’s recovery and a boy’s struggle to glimpse the adult world through the prism of an ancient epic. As the story is transposed from history into myth, it ripples from Ithaca to Queens, passing through a murder investigation, a hacked computer, an all-star poetry workshop, a plot to relocate Troy, and a committee charged with writing a sequel to the Iliad.  While it is fantastical and whimsical, this is a deeply serious story about the difficulty of nurturing our personal myths in a world bound in time.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m sending it around to all the usual suspects. It won’t be self published, nor will it appear from Etruscan, where I am the Executive Director. But as a publisher, I hope to be in a good position to work with whomever decides to publish it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Once I decided to write verse instead of prose, it came very quickly—eighteen chapters in as many months. In the beginning I was “translating” as much as writing—working from my own prose pony. I learned that the most telling difference between prose and poetry is pace. Verse moves at great speed, grounded only by a barely audible thrum. It illuminates without revealing—lightning flashing on a dark landscape.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Some of the books that have influenced me are Christopher Logue’s War Music,  Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey,  David Malouf’s Ransom, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, Alfred Lord’s The Singer of Tales, Julian James The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind, Eric Havelock’s Preface to Plato, H.L.Hix’s As Much As, If Not More Than, William Heyen’s Crazy Horse in Stillness, Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy, Leonard Schlain’s The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, and Jonathan Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I didn’t write the book. I composed it. The writing part is merely transcription, which I need to do because my memory isn’t strong enough to hold it all in. But now I have it. I compose and am composed, as I walk, or drive, or shower, or am pulled into the dark tube of an MRI.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book aspires to turn readers into listeners. In the spirit of the oral tradition which provides its impetus, a performance of the entire work is being filmed at Youngstown State University. Clips from this rendition can be found at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1-Ve8aiRjk&feature=youtu.be….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0qGmacdSSo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2eyIuEqQOY

***

Philip Brady is a poet, instructor, and publisher. Learn more at his website: www.philipbrady.com.