Online literary magazine The Boiler has an exciting interview series “Under Pressure.” This series highlights previous contributors and focuses on elements of craft and process – excellent reading for both writers and readers.
You can currently find interviews with Dana Alsamsam, Esteban Rodriguez, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Jenny Molberg, Stephanie Cawley, Alyse Bensel, Dorothy Chan, Anthony Cody, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Marlin M. Jenkins, Todd Dillard, K-Ming Chang, Michael Torres, Dorsey Craft, Tatiana Ryckman, Alan Chazaro, Malcolm Friend, Sara Lupita Olivares, Roberto Carlos Garcia, Melissa Wiley, Jody Chan, Naima Yael Tokunow, Kelly Grace Thomas, and Jessica Abughattas.
On August 17 literary magazine The Common featured a conversation between Ilan Stavans and Haoran Tong on poetry and the use of multiple languages. Besides talking on how language is used and how they consider it in their own work, you also get to learn how they grew up and learned their languages from it being completely natural with no dominance of one language over the other to acquiring a new language as being an invasion.
My English education, in contrast, focused more on practical dialogues than on literature. English was taught to me as a useful tool to acquire more knowledge, but Chinese was me. This probably explains my initial reluctance to use English elements in Chinese poems, or vice versa. Moreover, I seriously scrutinized my poems, out of guilt, for any “latinized” syntax that sounded “unChinese.”
Stavans and Tong also talk on “decidophobia” and how common it is now when in societies today choices are constantly demanded and their is always the underlying fear that you may make the wrong one.
Decidophobia is a common social trait, especially in capitalist societies: we are constantly demanding ourselves to make a choice. This, obviously, comes with the fear of making the wrong one. Is it possible to have too many choices before us? Should one try to avoid such a situation? Probably not.
And if you are interested in translation versus translingualism, Stavans and Tong have a lot to bring to the table on the subject as well: “Whereas translation tells, explains, or instructs, translingual writing shows, infuses and liberates.” Check out the interview in it’s entirety.
The Massachusetts Review aids readers in learning more about the writers they publish on their MR Online component. In a section called “10 Questions,” contributors answer the same ten questions. Because these are the same ten questions and are not personalized, the interviews are all pretty casual, but they do offer insight into writing rituals and inspiration.
Contributors also answer the question, “What did you want to be when you were young?” I loved seeing the variety of responses and especially appreciated Amanda Hawkins’s answer:
When I was seven I wanted to be sixteen so I could drive. When I was ten I wanted to be a writer. When I was thirteen I wanted to be an English professor. When I was seventeen I wanted to be a person who kept lentils and and rice in jars. When I was twenty I wanted to be a baker. I’m not sure looking back if I’ve been determined or just unimaginative, because I’ve done all these things to some degree, but not exactly in that order.
Other recent interviewed contributors from the Summer 2021 issue include Mike White, Bettina Judd, Adrian Matejka, and Joshua Garcia.
Translator Frances Riddle sits down to interview Argentine author Claudia Piñeiro about her writing life and new book, Elena Knows (Charco Press, July 2021). Piñeiro talks about how she believes writing came formatted in her DNA as she felt the need to express herself with the written word. She also talked about how she couldn’t study writing or humanities at college as the military dictatorship in Argentina had closed all humanities departments. Her writing education was informal workshops taught by well-known, important writers at houses, cafes, or bars. She personally recognizes Guillermo Saccomanno as her mentor as she studied with him the longest.
If I could sum it up: my formation has been just me seeking out things I could add on to learn to write better.
Piñeiro talks about how you cannot make a living as a writer in Argentina and how she had to write surrounded by her kids, the doorbell ringing, and other distractions. She also talks about her writing practice.
I don’t have an outline. . . . But I do have an idea—a global idea—of where the characters will go and what’s going to happen. And I do imagine the ending. Then, during writing, sometimes I take those routes, or sometimes I veer off onto other paths. Often the ending changes.
Visit The Festival Review for The Inkhorn, home of weekly online exclusives. There, you can find a recently published interview with singer-songwriter Rachel Lynn. The interview discusses her song “She Tried to Drown me” and activism. Half of the proceeds of “She Tried to Drown Me” will be donated to the Audre Lorde Project.
Interviewer: The last time we spoke, you said you weren’t interested in promoting, or even creating, during the pandemic. What’s changed?
Rachel Lynn: We’ve been sitting on this release since the beginning of the quarantine. It was supposed to have been released in early June. The content was already created. This is a project I’ve had for a while, and I’ve been ready to move forward creatively. But I didn’t want to take up space. I still don’t want to take up too much space. One of the things I realize is that the fight for racial justice has to be woven into our lives. I thought, if I do this release and donate to an organization that is fighting for Black Trans lives, that is one way to incorporate the fight into my life.
I put out a song one year ago about veganism and animal rights, another system of oppression. And all the proceeds from that song were donated to Mercy for Animals. I definitely feel like it’s one way I can connect art and my work to activism and social justice. I am kind of a broke artist and this is a way I can make a donation, by linking it to the sales of this project. I probably won’t be doing anything new though, like creating new content.
You can find the full interview and links to Rachel Lynn’s music at The Festival Review‘s website.
Online literary magazine Off the Coast features a regular interview series where they correspond with a writer about their latest book. In the Summer 2021 issue, you will find an interview with Fiona Sze-Lorrain. Her book Rain in Plural has been shortlisted for the 2021 Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry.
Interviewer A.E. Talbot discusses poetic lineage, the writing process (“I don’t have a writing process, in part since I fear it may encourage me into romanticizing or fetishizing the act of writing.”), Sze-Lorrain’s roles as both poet and translator (” I work more at being a human being”), and more.
They also talk about Sze-Lorrain’s collaboration with composter Peter Child and her thoughts on “underrated” poets. You can also read three poems by Sze-Lorrain in this issue.
Too bad that the mainstream media and publishing cares more for the “show” than poetry, thought, and reflection.
On the Chinese Literature Today website, find an interview with Liu Cixin by Okuma Yuichiro translated by John Broach. In this interview, the two discuss Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy and how it connects to China’s past as well as the present day approach to COVID-19.
Okuma Yuichiro: Isn’t humanity being threatened by an unknown virus similar to aliens using communication as an attempt to invade Earth?
Liu Cixin: [ . . . ] From a broader perspective, the pandemic has revealed a non-linear historical model: history can change directions at any moment. This unpredictable state of the future gives sci-fi fiction a vast imaginary space and many potential narratives.
We should anticipate possible crises, for example, what would happen if there is a breakthrough in Artificial Intelligence that makes AI smarter than humans? How do we deal with a situation in which medical advancements allow people to escape their limited lifespan and live forever? The problem is that no one person or country is truly thinking through these issues. Only sci-fi fiction sometimes mulls over these potential crises.
The interview ends with a message, Cixin saying, “But again, if we want to survive we have to change, this is, I hope, what readers can get from my work.” Stop by CLT‘s website to check out the full interview.
In Issue 82 of Bellingham Review is a feature on asemic art: “To Those Whose Eyes Wander.” This feature includes work by Sam Roxas-Chua who was interviewed by Stephen Haines. In this interview, the two discuss Roxas-Chua’s asemic work in the issue and elsewhere, and it wraps up with a list of music, books, and film that have moved the poet lately.
Haines asks Roxas-Chua about the work found in Issue 82:
STEPHEN: New Beak and Exhale is another favorite of mine from the work you contributed to Issue 82. I have read that you often use processes like ekphrasis in your work, and I can’t help wondering about that act of creating art in response to other art. Is the asemic writing in the right panel of New Beak and Exhale a direct response to the image on the left? The other way around? Or is this entire piece in conversation with something else entirely?
SAM: I was abandoned as a baby, but was fortunate to have a birth certificate and for some causes and conditions I was able to locate her in 2012. It didn’t have an Oprah show ending. A second rejection happened. I could go on and on about this story but find that it’s best to focus on the two images in hopes that it will let me narrate what I find difficult to tell. The two images are in conversation. Thank you for giving voice to that.
Coming up to that anniversary, I drew the bird image using collected soot made into ink, together with drops of squid ink. I wanted to write a poem by drawing an image. I mean, who is to say what a poem is and isn’t? In the tree where I was abandoned, I imagined I was fed by birds. When I was adopted, I was malnourished and had worms living inside my stomach. I was bloated like an egg. I believe the natural world was answering major questions. “Am I good? If I am good, why was I relinquished? What is wrong with me?”
The asemic writing on the right was a letter to my mother in asemic form where I was trying to exhaust everything I wanted to say. The image of the bird and the letter put together in conversation translates to “I am made of new beak and exhale.”
Podcasts are still all the rage and literary magazines are supplementing the work they feature in print and online with podcast series. Colorado Review has it’s very own podcast series available in Apple Podcasts or the iTunes store.
They list the archive of their episodes, dating back to 2011, online. The most recent episode, posted on June 7, features podcast host C Culbertson sitting down with Brandon Krieg, author of Magnifier and winner of the 2019 Colorado Prize for Poetry. They talk ecopoetics, environmental thought, and how the practice of walking calls on us to notice the world around use.
To start with the walking. . . it’s such a practice for renewal of my own sort of mental state. It helps me get out of my head in a way. . . . You’re moving through a landscape, you’re noticing, you’re in your senses. . . it’s a way of getting out of thoughts for me.
You can also hear Krieg read a few poems from his book Magnifier.
Don’t forget to read the Spring 2021 issue of Colorado Review & subscribe today if you haven’t already.
At the end of every Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review issue is the “4×4” section. Here, four writers are asked the same four questions in a series of quickfire mini-interviews.
This year’s questions touch on corresponding with other writers, solitude and writing, finding a balance of beneficial and less beneficial reading, and how shock-resistant each poet’s writing process is. The writers interviewed are Noor Hindi, Hailey Leithauser, Cheswayo Mphanza, and Jon Kelly Yenser.