Friday, 20 September 2019

Interview With Poet, Elise Emersyn

There are two qualities that I so genuinely appreciate in another human being; a warrior spirit, survivors’ endurance and riddled with raw honest talent.  Ok, make it three idiosyncratic characteristics. I just feel that writing is such a personal release – especially when writing about difficult subjects.  I genuinely believe that specks of our soul detach from us -- as we release immense pain or joy. The gift there is to be able to take that pain and manifest something that be appreciated – and the release of poetry. As it oozes from us as we desire to do nothing but express our most inner emotions into woven tales. Emotive work is truly housed within the Poetry of Elise Emersyn. The quality of Elise’s work is quite distinctive as she immerses herself inside of her own stylized being.  When I read her work, I can authentically feel the myriad of emotions conveyed throughout, Drowning Back To Life.

I’d like to invite all of you to follow Elise on Instagram @eliseemersynpoetry and take a look at her site ..

RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?

EE: Not well, I’m afraid! When I first completed my book, I thought it was fabulous...and then I got on Instagram! I’ve met and read absolutely amazing poets on this platform, but their incredible work, and the very loud opinions of others on what “good poetry” is and is not, often shakes my confidence. The algorithm is also a bitch—the fewer the likes, the more I think I’m just not good. But I know that’s skewed thinking and it’s just me needing affirmation, that most days very few people even get to see my work, and that I should not buy into the popularity contest-aspect of IG. So lately, instead of posting every day, two-three times per day and obsessively checking those likes, I post when I feel I have a good piece, check on it maybe once, and move on.  Not worrying about those damn likes, and the lovely comments from fellow poets, definitely help to boost my self-esteem.

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked?  If yes, how did you overcome it?

EE: I have been in a brain block for the last several months, and it’s a direct result of stress. I thought that pushing this book meant coming up with new poetry to post every single day, and I did that for almost six months, in addition to curating for Pack Poetry, in addition to being a full time high school English teacher with 185 students a day. Around May, the words just stopped, and I’ve had a hard time getting them back, and to be honest, I think I’m just burned out. Prompts are very helpful, but for me, the only way to combat a nasty case of the blocks is to stop writing until it starts flowing again, and to try to reduce life stressors as much as possible.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

EE: None! My poetry just pops into my head whenever it wants to be written!

RMMW: Do you feel social media hinders or helps writers?

EE: Both. As I’ve said, it can be extremely intimidating and discouraging to see writers who you feel just blow you out of the water! But it’s also an awesome place to learn and to grow, to listen and to be heard, and to be exposed to styles and forms that one otherwise may never have the chance to explore.

RMMW: As a member of Pack Poetry, what is your favourite aspect of reading the work of other poets during live shows on Instagram?

EE: I’m not a live host, so I never know who’s going to be read until the day before, and I don’t know the pieces being read until they’re read. It’s very exciting to hear new works as they’re being read and to experience the feelings they evoke, and finding new poets to follow. I also love chatting with the viewers who pop in and getting to know them!

RMMW: Who are your favourite indie writers?

EE: Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye (are they still Indie?)

RMMW: What content are you in search of with regards to the poetry you curate and read live?

EE: Good rhythm and flow, content that has meaning, intelligent wording, and because I’m an English teacher and I just can’t help it, correct spelling and punctuation. (I’m sorry; that’s just me! I’m programmed—it’s kind of terrible!)

RMMW: What do you feel are some of the greatest challenges, that writers have to face literally everyday?

EE: Finding something new to say, and new ways to say it; being taken seriously as a writer and not becoming a little minnow in the sea of other authors; finding an audience and getting good exposure.

RMMW: At what age did you start writing poetry?

EE: I started late, around 20, and I wrote prolifically until I met my ex, and then it stopped for the whole of our relationship and then some: 13 years. (It was an abusive relationship and I lost a lot of what was me.) I just started writing again in the spring of 2018, and I wrote my entire book (253 poems) from late May to August 2018.

RMMW: People have constantly said to me throughout my life that any subject can not be made into a poem.  I disagree, I think any subject can make a brilliant poem -- what do you think?

EE: I absolutely agree! I think that with creative thought, perspective, and wording, anything can be made into an incredible piece of work. We are artists, and I think we can find beauty and purpose in things that most would completely overlook. That’s our gift.

RMMW: Do you have any unfinished manuscripts that are going to make their way to publication fruition?

EE: I would like to publish another book of poetry, and I do have enough written, but I haven’t even attempted to put it together! I don’t have a purpose in my mind yet—I’ll keep writing until I know where I want it to go!

RMMW: Where is your favourite place to write?

EE: I don’t have a particular place, because they just come to me and kind of demand to be written, but I do like to write outside, preferably near woods or water!

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

EE: Can I pick two? I’m going to! First, I’d love to be a healer. But I’d also love to be a unstoppable badass like Jean Grey and control the whole world with my mind.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

LEGENDS, By: Artemis Skye McNeil

This series focuses on heroes that live around us, next to us, even in our own homes. I won’t call them “regular people” because they are not. They carry something special and unique about them -- an internal light and energy that makes others eventually understand that they’re in the presence of a mind and heart worth tapping into. These “Legends” aren’t famous in the traditional sense, although they could be. Many of them choose not to be.  

Their “fame” is earned by the great impression they leave after leaving a room, a conversation, or even life. Legends are created out of deep respect and awe for another human.  I thought I’d start with a legend very close to my heart; my own father. I could write a book on my father’s life  and maybe one day I will. But for now, he kicks off my series on “Legends”. 

A glimpse into everyday greatness:

Creative Writing* and artistic expression predates me in my family. As a young adult my father worked at a newspaper printery in Thessaloniki, Greece for a time. Although he was a quiet man, he loved words. We were surrounded by them. Our home was filled with dictionaries among a plethora of other books. He studied words. He had a rich vocabulary and an incredible grasp of both ancient and modern Greek. He also had the most amazing penmanship I had ever seen. His handwriting was like art. 

The photograph above is my father’s typewriter. He was gifted it by an attorney who befriended him when he came to the United States- My father was learning English and working at various menial jobs where language wasn’t an issue- to put food on the table for his wife and two young kids at the time. The attorney came to realize what an intelligent man my father was and learned of his background in journalism and love of words and writing. He was surprised because my father didn’t talk about himself, his positions or achievements and never once did he complained about his lot in life. (As a little girl, my father is the one that taught me to respect everyone; “Treat the janitor the same as you would the President”). Moved by my father’s humility- the attorney told him that after he had mastered the English language he would need a typewriter for future endeavors and he gave him the Remington- which my father treasured. I have since inherited this beautiful machine, filled with deep appreciation of its rich and meaningful history. The paper in this typewriter is from my father’s English class.”- 

Postscript: “The typewritten English paper by my Greek father.”

The seven most important words of the English language are:
 I made a mistake and I’m sorry 
 The six most important words of the English language are:
 You did a very good job.
 The five most important words of the English language are:
What is your opinion?
 The four most important language words of English language are:
How can I help?
 The three most important words of the English language are:
I appreciate you 
The two most important words of the English language are:
 Thank you 
The one least important word of the English language is: I

I miss you daddy

“I want the dash between my date of birth 
and death to be a pulse not a flatline.”

Artemis Skye McNeil ~

Quill Fated Scribes Bio!il “I want the dash between my date of birth
and death to be a pulse not a flatline.”

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Follow Up Interview With Writer, Alicia Cook

A couple of months ago, I read an article about how writing saved the life of Alicia Cook.  I can totally relate to that as writing, more specifically writing poetry has genuinely rescued me from certain death many a time.  To be able to express yourself fully, and drain your spirit of the angst and pain that has endured over snapshots of painful circumstances -- from the days of old is beyond cathartic.  When I read Alicia’s poetry, I’m surrounded by words that render me -- into a puddle of human goo. Especially Alicia’s pieces where the subject matter is either; mental health awareness or fighting the stigma attached to addiction and the possibilities of overcoming addiction.  Alicia truly NEVER minces her words – what she feels she writes and makes no excuses – as obviously she should not.  Alicia’s poetry genuinely stands on its own and authentically tends to house an honest tone.  Below, you’ll find my follow-up interview with Alicia – she altruistically is a conqueror and should be read – please follow @thealiciacook on Instagram.

RMMW: How do you distinguish between the poems you share on line and those you keep for your books?

AC: Depends. If I am actively working on a manuscript (currently, I am not), I will save most of my work for the book. Or only post excerpts to kind of get a read on how the content sits with my readers. If later on I want to compile work for a manuscript, I will include pieces I already posted online, but I will add more to them so the reader isn’t buying the material I already posted for free online. I wouldn’t do that to my readers so I always expand the pieces or change them or anything to elevate them from what it was on the internet.

RMMW: Why was it important for you to keep the release of your third book Anomaly: A Concept Album a surprise?

AC: Because traditional book roll-out is exhausting and Anomaly wasn’t about numbers, sales rank, or anything superficial like that. This was me having fun writing a collection of love poetry and songs and I wanted to make it accessible to all readers, which is why I 1) self-published it and 2) priced it at just $5.99. I love when artists I admire drop surprise shit so that’s what I wanted to do emulate with Anomaly. Plus, meeting someone and falling in love with them usually sneaks up on a person, and since the book is about that, I figured it all made sense. 

RMMW: What is your favourite theme to write?

AC: I write about myself, so I am pulled toward mental health, relationships, and grief and how they all tie together. We aren’t just one thing at one time. We encompass a multitude of things that intersect and affect other aspects of our lives. It is silly for me or anyone to think that my mental health – for better or worse – won’t impact my relationships. It does. So I blend those themes a lot.

RMMW: A million plus eyes can be very intimidating.  How did you feel when your poem that you shared on Instagram went viral?

poem, that went viral! 
AC: Intimidated, haha. Usually when things go viral, the internet trolls come out to play. But with this poem, I didn’t really see a lot of that. I saw compassion and understanding. My poem opened up tons of conversations surrounding mental health and how we feel we have to censor our true feelings even from the ones closest to us. So I am proud. The people who tried to plagiarize my poem can fuck off though.

RMMW: Do you feel social media hinders or helps authors?

AC: I am asked this a lot. I think it’s both. Like most things in life, there is good and evil associated with social media. I try to use it authentically. To share free content, promote my books, and connect with readers. I respond to nearly every message I receive (except for dick pics or insincere messages). It helps me connect with people who read my work. I am grateful for that.

RMMW: What do you feel good poetry ought to do?

AC: Make you feel. Make you reflect. Make you understand another point of view.

RMMW: Where and what time of day is your favourite to write?

AC: I don’t have an answer to this. Things pop in my head and I write them down.

RMMW: What do you feel is your greatest poetic achievement?

AC: I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t care that Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately is still selling strong 3+ years later. That book saved my life. But aside from that, my greatest achievement is that I have been able to use my poetic platform to advocate for families affected by drug addiction. I weave all of my passions together and the people who follow me for just my poetry, or maybe just my writing on addiction, have embraced and supported me. I can’t ask for much else.

 RMMW: How do you maintain a healthy life balance between writing for work and poetry?

 AC: I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Suicide Prevention Month: Social Media’s Connection to Suicide, By: Jennifer A. Grisham

Photo by Georgia de Lotz
            In today’s world, it may come to no surprise that the leading cause of death for teens and young adults is suicide.  I often think about how different the world is today from the world in which my parents grew up in.  You did not need a degree from a university in order to find a good, steady job and craft a stable life. These days you need more than a college degree, you need graduate school.  The standards for education keep rising, jobs are becoming scarcer because there are so many qualified/overqualified people, and means of living is much too costly for most middle-class families to feel remotely comfortable.  The amount of pressure we receive is overwhelming and it certainly does not help our mental health.  In fact, it has an even greater negative impact than we could imagine.  Social media, which has grown exponentially in terms of necessities for humans, only adds to these pressures.

            I remember as a child how much I loved AOL chat rooms.  These rooms offered me a place to escape my daily life and make new friends online.  It also gave me the ability to get homework help when my teachers did not yet use e-mail as an offered form of communication.  The internet quickly became another life and an addiction for me.  For many others, young in age or not, the internet offers a world of opportunities and areas of exploration.  This becomes problematic as much as it can be considered a beautiful thing.  The introduction of social media into modern-day has not only opened us up to amazing forms of communication, connection, and information, but it also opens us up to cyberbullying, mental health deterioration, and worse.

            We have almost innately instilled within our muscle memory the need to check our Instagram, Twitters, or Facebook whenever our cellular device is in our hand.  It is almost as if they have become permanent additions to our appendages.  There is research out there that says constantly being exposed to what everyone else is doing all the time can lead us to have negative feelings about our own life.  Although we might feel happy to see others we care for doing so well, sometimes it can foster a sense of loneliness or create even more feelings of isolation.  Social media can make you feel depressed, and I feel as though that is certainly true.

            Bullying has become even more of an issue because of social media.  It is easy to hide behind a screen and attack others to make yourself feel powerful.  With a click of a button, a nasty phrase or photo can reach thousands in seconds.  Coming back from being a victim of cyber-bullying is incredibly difficult.  Teenagers and adults both face the risk of being bullied online every day and it greatly impacts their mental health.  I have seen it happen within my own platforms I participate in on my social media accounts.  I have even had it happen to me.  As someone who is a giant advocate for mental health, I can’t tell you that social media has done anything to help my anxiety except make it worse on occasions.  Thus, it is unsurprising to see the negative connection between social media and mental health.

Photo by Becca Tapert
         Considering the internet gives us constant information overload, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline works with different social networking sites to promote education on mental health and resources on how to get help.  I can’t emphasize enough that if you are suffering from thoughts of self-harm: use the resources!  Call the hotline 1-800-273-TALK and just talk to someone, especially if you feel like you have no one in your life to listen to you. 

It is also just as important to make sure you are taking care of your mental health when you are using social media actively, like I am:

1.      Take Breaks.  If you feel over-whelmed, do not be afraid to take a step back.  You are not obligated to have a presence if you are not feeling up to it.  Everyone and everything will be back when you return.  You come first.
2.      The Block Button is Your Friend.  If someone is offering you nothing but toxic energy in your life, or they are treating you poorly block them.  This is your personal space and it is okay to not share it with those who are not going to treat it appropriately.
3.      Take Time for Yourself.  Put the phone down, don’t swipe right, and stop scrolling.  Turn off social media notifications when you are winding down for the evening.  Allow yourself moments to grab a cup of coffee in quiet, curl up with a book, or binging television shows.
4.      Allow Yourself to be Present.  Be with your family and friends and really be with them.  Resist the urge to look at your accounts when you are spending time with those you love.  Not only will you be able to create wonderful memories, but you will truly be able to have the capacity to feel good

            At the end of the day, it is only social media.  Your mental health and the way you are feeling about yourself are worth more than simple digital airspace.  I have only recently been learning how to step back and away when I need to, and the effects of doing so have made a tremendous difference on how I feel.  You need to value you.  Remember, you matter and you are enough.


Note:  If you or a friend are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the Prevention Hotline number: 1-800-273-TALK.

Stay connected:
Follow @alchemica.poetica on Instagram
Quill Fated Scribes bio here! 

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Interview with Children's Author & Poet, Linda Lokhee

This past week Children’s Author & Poet Linda Lokhee had become the architect to her own unique poetic style called the Lokhee Flip 4 – check out her Instagram @lindalokheeauthor for more details. Moreover, please study it as it will be utilized for this years Mini Poetry Olympics in February 2020.   

Now, that being said, Linda has to be one of the most imaginative Children Writer’s I’ve read.  Having children, you are picky with what they read, you want to ensure that a story will not only provide a little education but also enjoyment and The Sock Monster.  With such a vibrant and quirky main character riddled with the truest sense of the word mirth.  I’m so excited to share with all of you my interview with Linda below.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

LL: I don’t, because I write anywhere and everywhere when inspiration hits. It would be great to have a ritual of sitting down and having a pot of green tea before I write though!

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked, if yes how did you over come it?

LL: I haven’t been blocked so thoughts on this is that if I can’t write, for whatever reason, I won’t write - and I’ll go do something else. Life can get very busy with teaching, both primary school and in a special education school, so I guess the pressure to write ‘to a deadline’ isn’t there.

RMMW: We all have an inner critic, how do you contend with yours?

LL: I tell my inner critic to be kind to myself. I know that my writing won’t appeal to everyone, and that’s ok! It’s normal and there’s no point beating myself up about it. I’m personally happier with some pieces of writing than others.
RMMW: Tell us a little bit about The Sock Monster…

LL: The Sock Monster’s name is Ike, and he is a big purple furry loveable (but lonely) monster. He loves collecting single socks, but one day gets busted by a boy named Tim. Instead of being scared of Ike, or being angry, Tim invites Ike into his house for dinner with his family. Ike learns a valuable lesson about friendship, kindness and rectifying wrongs. The Sock Monster is written in rhyming, humourous language and is suitable for children aged 3-7 years old. It’s also for any adults who have gone to get a pair of socks after washing day and discovered one sock from a pair missing!

RMMW: How long did it take you to write The Sock Monster?

LL: Writing it and developing the characters and storyline, and the editing by Anna Wainwright, took a few months.

RMMW: Why was it important for you to write a children's book?

LL: I have been around picture books all my life - from being a teacher who uses many picture books in my classroom, to personally exploring the wonderful language and pictures of books with my two sons. It seemed a natural progression to write a book for kids and when Ike appeared in my mind, I knew he had to be given a physical form! Now I literally have plushy soft toys of Ike - so that’s as physical as I’m going to get of The Sock Monster.
RMMW: What differences do you find writing for two different audiences like for example children and adults?

LL: The topics are very different for kids than adults. I like to play around and have make believe characters like trolls, unicorns and monsters when I write for kids.  When I write my poetry, I tackle different themes, such as mental health and domestic violence issues, as well as more beautiful topic such as Love.

RMMW: How difficult was it for you to find a children's book illustrator?

LL: My illustrator is an amazing artist named Anahit Aleksanyan. My wonderful friend Anna originally found her! Ana created Ike as if she’d read my mind, based on Anna’s email brief. When I saw how she had brought Ike to life, I instantly fell in love with him!! He was fluffy and big with huge eyes and my absolute favourite colour - Purple! I had no changes to make to this character which I credit to both Anna and Ana and which I’m very grateful to them for.

RMMW: What is your favourite genre to write in?

LL: My favourite genre to write depends on the outcome I want to achieve. For picture books, the genre is set. When I’m writing for adults, and when I set and respond to writing challenges on my Instagram wall, my preferred genre is poetry.

RMMW: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

LL: I write poetry when I get a chance, I can be anywhere where inspiration hits. For example, on public transport, at home, sometimes when I’m walking around on playground duty, ideas come to me, and even when I’m driving too. There’s no set work schedule regarding place or time.  When I am writing a book, I have to have a set few hours uninterrupted to work on writing, and it would be a mix of at home and in a cafe - I like the noise and the bustle as I’m a Sydney girl!

RMMW: What are you working on now?

LL: I’ve written my next children’s book, and it’s been edited by Anna Wainwright already. I’ve sent it out to publishers and am crossing my fingers that the manuscript will be accepted.
Several poetry pieces have recently been published in April and May 2019, in two poetry anthologies, published by A.B. Baird Publishing which I am delighted about! I have a goal to publish a poetry book of my own in the future - so it’s a great goal to have!  Writing is not my main job as I’m still teaching, so hopefully I can find the time to publish my poetry book sooner rather than later.

RMMW: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

LL: My ideas come from the world around me. I observe people and my environment. Sometimes a topic for my poetry can come from a news radio article I hear or a current affairs newspaper article. Or from a conversation I’ve had with family and friends. There is definitely “food for writing” everywhere I go, in every experience, drawn from life. Other times, ideas just come out of nowhere.

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

LL: Oooh! That’s a great question! Perhaps I’d like to be Super Fast - then I’d be on time for everything, and be able to sleep in for an extra long time!

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Enter Stage Left, Quill Fated Scribes

Dearest Bookworms —

CCIQ is undergoing a metamorphosis! 

I’ve invited 3 of the most competent and talented writers;  Jennifer Grisham, Sonja Mabel McClure and Artemis Skye McNeil to join me in creating an even more fascinating blog experience. Each of these ladies brings her own unique style and quality as writers who truly understand the verity of humanity and its various components. If that isn’t exciting enough, I am proud to introduce “Val’s Oubliette” an online gift shop featuring the artwork of resident artist Valisa Bernardino!  

You may read: 





Bio on our new page now entitled "Quill Fated Scribes."  

Oh and please note the craftsmanship of our signs both in Quill Fated Scribes & Val's Oubliette pages as they have been hand-drawn by Valisa!  

Things are moving and shaking for sure!  Please join me in welcoming these ladies to CCIQ and look forward to beautiful art, riveting interviews and in depth articles on thought provoking issues relevant for today.

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Interview with Poet, Jeremy M. Tolbert

Funny little side story before I get into this interview, oddly enough it’s Jeremy M. Tolbert’s interview -- I am posting today – links to my present day.  Yesterday, I was in the middle of a DM with another Poet, Myers-Briggs testing was mentioned during our conversation.  I had completely forgotten what my specific initials were, and I’ve grown as an adult so thought that it would be fun to take it over.  (Oddly enough by the time I was done and had one teenager and another preteen interested in taking the test for themselves – results were interesting to say the least.) One thing I noticed had changed I had grown from a gregarious extravert to a please just let me do my own thing introvert.  Makes you think, Jeremy is an INJF which happens to be one of the rarest personality combinations ever – quite thoughtful if you think about it.  For more of Jeremy’s story please read below, he has furnished us with a nice plump interview.  I’d like to invite all of you to follow Jeremy on Instagram at @jeremymtolbert.

RMMW: What is the relationship between your speaking and writing voice?

JMT: I’ve spent years explaining to family and friends on how I speak versus how I write.  I would say the relationship between the two have been in a bitter divorce since The beginning. They are complete opposites. I am reminded by what Anais Nin Once said, “the role of the writer is not to say what we are all can say, but what We are unable to say.” I believe that sums up precisely this ‘ship. I’ve always been

Quiet around people, but leave me with my machine gun (typewriter) or a pen and paper and I’ll open up like a sieve. That’s why I believe my work is real and raw, it’s because I don’t hold back. I do not like to mince words so when I do speak It all means something to me.

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?

JMT: Unfortunately, I have suffered through writers block several times, to the point of nearly quitting altogether.  I had Just finished my third or fourth book and I felt spent. I thought I had nothing left, along with being rejected over and over— I felt I was going nowhere to where my confidence had waned. I had written about very personal issues and events that I thought it had taken its toll and all of my creativity. But like many other parts of my life, I did not let that stop me from continuing with what I loved so much. I knew I would always have things to write about, so I took baby steps towards where I wanted to be to help me find myself and my voice once again. Since then, I have found my desire and am working on my sixth book.

RMMW: We all have to contend with our inner critic, how do you deal with yours?

JMT: My inner critic is what fuels me the most. Wanting to be the best writer that I can be. I used to believe I would write the next generational novel (I still can), get seen and sign a contract with one of the three big publishing houses, travel the world on tours and be on top ten lists and win awards. The reality is far from that. I am happy if I get mentioned on the socials, other writers mention me, and selling at least one copy that my mother did not pay for. I still do have those goals, but I have become perfectly fine with my status as an underground poet. As long as, I still love the act and art of writing and I put work out that I love and speaks to me, that’s all that matters. If others happen to read or listen to what I’ve written and enjoy it, the more the merrier. I am tough on myself, for example, the way I write long form essays or how my poetry flows; I critique everything before I let anyone else see it, making sure the flow and my voice compliment each other. The rejection slips and the desire to continue what I love keeps me going.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

JMT: I don’t believe I have any rituals, as Hemingway once quipped, “all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But I tend to do the same things perhaps in different ways. For example, several things I do are, 1. I must leave my house; I cannot write at home or the distractions will take over my mind. I leave for coffeehouses or bars. My first book, “Scribblings From a Beer-Stained Napkin,” was written primarily in bars, on coasters and napkins. 2. I absolutely need my headphones and to listen to music while I write. If I do not have them with me I will head home or I won’t write that day or I’ll buy new ones. Listening to music helps me clear my mind and helps me focus on the words. 3. I will not leave until I’ve completed three to five new pieces per day. It is a far cry from Bukowski’s output but hopefully soon I will reach his level.

RMMW: What is your favourite poem written by you?

JMT: I have three favorite poems of my own. 1. Dear mom and dad (vacuum salesman) 2. Dear Father series 3. The Last poem in Tragedy in Sin.

RMMW: What made you decide to include Myers Briggs testing as a part of your writing? (Very cool by the way!)

MT: I wrote about my Myers-Briggs personality because mine, INJF, which is the rarest, showcases both my inner workings as an individual as well as a writer and poet. As a true introvert the art of writing, which is a solitary endeavor matches with who I am.  While I am able to assimilate to those around me, my true persona is one who could roam invisible in a sea of people and be completely content and free. Sitting and bleeding out with my headphones in dark shadows- similar to what the Geto Boys so eloquently stated, “I sit alone in my four cornered room staring at candles. At night I can’t sleep, I toss and turn, candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned. Four walls staring at a beep, paranoid sleeping with my finger on the trigger.”

RMMW: How do you feel when you are on stage reciting your pieces?

JMT: Poetry readings and I have always had a love/hate. Similar to how Bukowski felt, doing them only for the free booze and appearance payment. The only difference is I perform for free and pay for the booze.  It has become almost a requirement to share lines just to be heard if you want anyone else, other than your mother, to buy your work. I’ve always been afraid of being on stage and that fear continues while I read. It is so different, the act of performing what you’ve written versus sitting sedentarily typing them out with only your eyes ears hearing them.

RMMW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

JMT: September 25, 2005. That date will live with me till I die. It was when I decided that the act of writing was what I wanted to do and felt I could do as a profession. In many respects, I was always a writer from the time I was small, scribbling in my journals and enjoying the idea of putting my thoughts on paper. It was my therapy. Yet, it was the moment I opened Charles Bukowski’s “Women” and Chuck Klosterman’s “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs,” that solidified my desire and passion, turning my enjoyment of writing into a need, like Knut Hamsun’s book, “Hunger”. It’s been my love ever since.

RMMW: What do you relish most about poetry?

JMT: What I love most about poetry is how one can express so many emotions; conveying a rawness full of pain, fear, happiness, heartbreak and love in the most simplest way. If you know what you’re doing, there will be no fluff. Bukowski once said, “each line must have its own power, its own feeling, its own juice, its own flavor. Writing must never be boring. It must not bore the reader, the writer…you have to have juice in each line.” I couldn’t agree more. Every poet that I draw from has and had the ability to express themselves with a power by not saying nearly anything.

RMMW:  What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

JMT: My work schedules throughout the years have always been favorable for my writing. I am an early riser, so I tend to write the majority of my work in the mornings before I head to work and then I either edit, add and or delete at night.

RMMW: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

JMT: My most interesting quirk that I can think of is when I go off to write I always go toward the farthest corners. Whether it be a corner bar stool, or coffee house stool.  I’ve been doing unconsciously for years since my first book.

RMMW: How old were you when you published your first book? And how long did it take to write?

JMT: It was 2011, when I was 32 years old, when I wrote and published My first book, “Scribblings From a Beer-Stained Napkin,”. I had collected works that I meant to send to journals and literary magazines, but I came up with the idea of collecting them all. The title is a dedication to Bukowski, a play on one of his anthologies and because I spent 90% of my time in bars around Seattle while I was writing it; scribbling on beer coasters and napkins. It took about a year to write and collect them all.

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

JMT: If I had a superpower, I would want to be both invisible, have the ability to turn back time and/or to have a magical ability, like Mary Poppins or HP, to put back together buildings, living things and lives.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Interview with Poet, Conor Malcolm Crockford

Poet/Writers have incredible gifts that they utilize to explore throughout their work and regardless of what ailment or issue they have – they just keep motoring at their own pace.  Conor Malcolm Crockford is very open about discussing being on the Autism Spectrum – I know, numerous of writers that I’ve interviewed have openly admitted to their disorders and psychosis.  It’s a powerful feeling to use that adversity to create pieces of poetry, that would leave most with jaw dropped mouths open agape --waiting for spiders or flies to simply creep in.  Scribing poetry is not just a practise to most Poets it is a truly emotional experience that links secret stories together,  only those who know the intimate details of a situation would be able to recognise -- to others it’s a powerful piece of work. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you to follow Conor on Instagram at @florescentjunk you’ll be happy you did – he is such a prolific writer published by a number of reputable presses – Happy Reading.

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?

CC: Usually I put the pencil down in utter frustration and leave it for a day, or I take a quick walk, get out of my head for a second. Writing is not the easiest process, but it may be the most weirdly therapeutic in terms of filtering out your own noise and flotsam to get to what you want to say.

RMMW: We all have to deal with our inner critic, how do you contend with yours?

CC: I either feed the beast with overwhelming self-loathing over how somebody else is better or more successful - Morrissey was right of course - or skip it and go for either end of the spectrum: humble modesty or raw swagger about my work.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

CC: I put in earplugs to block out everything and sit down at my desk for about 30 seconds, then just...go.

RMMW: At what age did you start writing?

CC: From childhood I'd say, but I actually started taking it seriously as a vocation or profession when I was 24 or 25. I recognized it as something I absolutely had to commit to, as with certain acts in life: marriage, murder, escaping from prison, etc.

RMMW: What role do you feel social media plays with regards to self-promotion?

CC: God I wish it wasn't part of it but its a big aspect of promoting my work and getting my voice out as well as contacting other writers and publishers. But Twitter and Facebook especially are really toxic services, not just in platforming extremely right wing shitbirds but in promoting endless cancellation culture and selling data to the highest bidder. If I wasn't poor and without certain connections because of my autism, I'd get rid of them both, and I think the former at least is a common viewpoint.

RMMW: What is the relationship between your speaking and writing voice?

CC: I'd say my speaking voice is much more rambling and not as inherently concentrated - that's an autism or "aspie" thing in particular. My thoughts tend to be very fast and I can rush through them if I'm not careful. When I write I tend to get rid of unnecessary language - I even wrote down on a card "Eliminate what is unnecessary" and put it in front of my workspace so I have to look at it - and to pare down to what I really want to say. The difference I guess is in articulation, even if sometimes I say pretentious or, to be generous, poetic things out loud a good chunk of the time.

RMMW: Who are your favourite indie authors?

CC: I'll go to bat for a few local Philadelphia/Pennsylvania writers that I've read with or just know their work: Sean Lynch, Lamont B. Steptoe, Toni Love. Great publisher and poet I knew in Boston is Philip Carmichael. Other indie poets I love are John James and Tina Chang, she's the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn - absolutely extraordinary writing. Non-poets I love are mainly genre writers like Christa Faust and John Langan. Realistic fiction can be great but most of it right now is insufferable. I get no ideas from it.

RMMW: What is your favourite poem written by you?

CC: I quite like "Cool Masculine" which was published in Ethos Literary Journal and it's now in my chapbook Adore. It says exactly what I wanted to get across about masculine images, how strangely powerful but desperate they can be.

RMMW: How do you write, pen to paper or right to the computer?

CC: Pencil to paper - I use mechanical pencils because they feel better in my hands with less of a smudge (spectrum stuff), and legal notepads as I'm left-handed and spiral notebooks are awkward as a result. Then after a few drafts I type into my laptop and fiddle with it until I feel relatively satisfied. The key word here is relatively. Paul Valery said “poems aren't finished, they're just abandoned.“

RMMW: What do you enjoy most about performing spoken verse pieces?

CC: The attention of course. I hate spoken word and slam poetry - even if I see the appeal - but I used to sing in bands and getting to perform in some way is still a lot of fun for me. And sometimes certain pieces work better when I read them out loud, like "King".
RMMW: What inspires you to write?

CC: A mix of things ranging from my childhood, the natural world, the quiet hell of 9-5 jobs, the world around me, politics, and my own weird philosophy that's a mix of anarchism, existentialism, and maybe a little bit of Gnostic or occult thinking. And I'd love to go further and further into those ideas as I go on.

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

CC: Flying or invisibility so I could do some kind of larceny. Nothing creepy, just sneak into a vault.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Interview with Poet, Shaun Smith

I must admit, one of my favourite aspects of interviewing most writers is that the majority of them do not write for the money but for the expression -- Shaun Smith is no different.  Shaun’s poetry is born out of cathartic release and expression.  When I read the title of Shaun’s first book, I wanted to simply cry --  the title alone “The Results of a Failed Abortion: A Collection of Poems” completely hooked me in. I thought of the ramifications of a failed abortion how an unwanted child would be treated -- as a mother of 3 this resulted in plenty of tears.  I can’t image the darkness a soul feels after it’s been exposed to the experiences that Shaun so openly speaks about through his pieces.  Obviously, life is not easy, it is our experience that shapes the kind of human being that we become.  To have started in the darkness, one would have to house an immensely strong soul to be able to endure the adversity.  Shaun, does not shy away from difficult subjects – I strongly believe that writers help each other through the work they create based on their experiences.  It helps to realise when you feel alone that you are truly not – that there are individuals who have been exposed to horrible situations who had to escape torment and torture. Any kind of abuse on any level is really not ok – absorb the pain etched in the writing to comprehend someone’s personal struggle and try to ensure we are consistently kind. Both of Shaun’s books “The Results of a Failed Abortion: A Collection of Poems” and “Perfection” are both available on Amazon here!

RMMW:  Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?                    

SS: Yes…and on a regular basis. As I write so much, I often find times where the thoughts I associate with writing, seem to just stop. I overcome in a couple of ways:
-          I force the words to paper. These are cheap and typically don’t make any final cuts, but it’s writing, nonetheless. It’s better than nothing.
-          I write about writer’s block. These pieces have turned out to be some of my favorites, and to be honest, some of my best.
-          I don’t push myself. I write every day. On days where I struggle, I still write at least just one word. I never stop.
As these are implemented, I seem to find a point where I break past.

RMMW: We all have an inner critic how do you contend with yours?

SS: My inner critic is the worst I face. For me, I tell him how and why I’m the best, and I do that by writing about it. I call these, “I’m The Best Poems.” One might refer to my pieces Shaun Smith (S.O.S) or Perfection is Here to Stay. When my inner critic is loudest, I write my pieces to shut him up, and it works.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before you start a new piece?

SS: No rituals, no. I just write. I don’t want anything holding me back from getting words on paper.

RMMW:  How many unfinished manuscripts do you currently have?

SS: That’s a difficult question and I’m unsure of how to answer. I’ll just say this: I write at least one poem a day, I have over 550 notes in my phone alone, and I have my next 8 books titled with set dates for release.

RMMW: Do you feel social media hinders, or helps independent writers?

SS: Depending on the author, it could be either. Some people are social media writers, and there is nothing wrong with that. Personally, I write for me and my books, that’s it. When I wrote for social media it hindered me from writing in my purest form. For me, it hinders while others it might suit perfectly. I guess this would be a good time to formally announce that I’ll no longer be posting poems on Instagram except those that I’ve chosen to promote an upcoming book.

RMMW: I have to admit, I found the title to one of your chaps very clever - The Results of A Failed Abortion: A Collection of Poems this offers so much potential and scope for the imagination to contemplate the subjects your poetry is based on.  What do you feel is the toughest subject you've ever written about?

SS: The sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse I’ve had to face in life. But I’m at a point where that stuff doesn’t come out in my writing anymore. I have a sequel planned for The Results of a Failed Abortion, but it may only be Limited Poetry as Opposed to a full collection. What I have left to say is, well, limited.

RMMW: With regards to your second book Perfection, what do you think was the biggest challenge to bring it to publication fruition?

SS: Haha…everything. I wrote all of the poems right after I finished TROAFA, and had to edit a month or so after, which is difficult. I then had issues with a local printer who was doing the physical edition. Then I fell into a deep and dark depression which I am still struggling to get out of. A lot of delays and shortcomings have resulted from that, but alas, I will prevail.

RMMW: What are your favorite poems written by you?

SS: All of them. They are also all my least favorite poems by me. I am my favorite poet and my least. It keeps me humble and helps me to continue doing what I do.

RMMW: How has your writing evolved over the years?

SS: It evolves with me. With my different feelings, dealings, and influences my writing evolves in a natural way that can only be done so with time, no matter how short or long. Its nothing special, it’s just me. As I evolve, so does my writing.

RMMW: What is the best money you've spent from royalties of your books?                      

SS: Writing isn’t a hobby and it isn’t a job. It's my life. I write to be read, not for profit. I give my books away for free. One day that may change but the fact that it’s my life never will. For now, I haven’t made a single penny writing. I’ve invested personal funds and one who has graciously purchased my books, well that went towards recouping losses. Thing is, the losses will never be recouped monetarily, but responses to my works have made me rich in ways I never imagined. I am truly grateful for those who read my works and made me feel purpose in this life.

RMMW: What do you think are the biggest challenges contemporary writers face today?                                         

SS: Living in a world where everyone has a microphone, and everyone is looking for attention. I’ll just continue to “ring my bell.”

RMMW: What do you enjoy so much about writing poetry?

SS: I have trouble speaking my thoughts into words. They get lost in translation between entering my mind and being spoken aloud. Poetry doesn’t make me feel that way, ever. That’s why I love poetry.

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

SS: The ability of flight. My best dreams have all involved me flying. I’d like that in real life.