Thank you for interviewing with Zany Zygote Review. I’ll dive right in. It was a pleasure to feature your poetry in our first issue. Your writing has a haunting quality. From where do you derive inspiration, and what do you think drives you to create poetry with such dark and ethereal qualities?
I have a rather melancholic disposition even on my best days, and I began dealing with (undiagnosed at the time) depression and OCD when I was thirteen. I was first drawn to writing as a way to deal with depression and OCD and I continued to use it a self-therapy into high school and beyond. I’m now treated for depression, anxiety, and bipolar spectrum disorder now, and I’ve been sober for nearly two years. Through everything, writing has always been an escape and a way to deal with myself.
What do you think divides an average poem from a great one, a true work of art?
An average poem kind of skims along the surface of your mind and spirit, and a great one stirs your spirit and lights up your brain. I defer to the great Emily Dickinson who said, “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I knowthat is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”
Can you describe a little bit about your creative process?
I view myself as a conduit for the Cosmic Signal. I believe all artists have the ability to tune into the signal, and with enough practice, artists can get out of their own way and let the signal flow through them. William Blake said, “I myself do nothing. The Holy Spirit accomplishes all through me.” So it is with me. I show up and write, and some days I’m able to receive the Cosmic Signal loud and clear. Other days, I write, but the signal is fuzzy.
Most poets have occupations or callings that provide income and subject material during the day. Do you have/have you had any interesting or meaningful day jobs that influence your work?
I recently took a job as an eighth grade language arts teacher, something I’ve never done before. It’s not like any other teaching position I’ve had, which includes high school and teaching on the college level. Teaching 121 eighth graders over the course of a day is draining, but I try to carve out time to write before my day starts. I’m sure my experiences will show up in my work, though they haven’t yet.
Every good writer is a good reader. What are you reading right now? What poets speak to you the most in general, and what do you read when you are not reading poetry?
Right now, I’m reading Ron Rash’s short story collection Something Rich and Strange. The stories are heart-wrenching and beautiful. I don’t read a great deal of poetry these days. When I do read poetry, it’s kind of a wild card thing. I may read some Frost one day and then read some Sylvia Plath. If I’m up to the challenge, I’ll read some John Berryman.
What makes a great literary magazine, and what are some of your favorites to read? (Besides ZZR. *wink*)
A great literary magazine should make room for established writers as well as emerging ones. I’m fond of The Birmingham Poetry Review, Tin House, and Southern Poetry Review.