Voices behind the words : An interview series with writers (Interview #12, Jonah Finn of Crime Poetry)

  • Welcome readers to another entry on “Voices behind the words: An interview series with words. This is the 2nd time I’ve had a trifecta of writer interviews on this series. The other time was in February. I digress, this time around I spoke with the poet Tim Miller, who has begun writing crime poems under the name Jonah Finn. With that said, I’ll refer to him by his pseudonym. This was one of the longest interviews in terms of how in dept he went in on his answers, which is never a bad thing. I had a few writers feel like they spoke too much, which is something that I defiantly want so therefore the readers can learn more about you. Anyways I got sidetracked there, I’ll do my best to kept this brief but with so much information it’ll be a little difficult. Having said that, Jonah spoke about his upcoming book titled, Bone Antler Stone, a collection that spans most European history. In addition, how he describes his poetry as empathetic even though the subject matter is dark, and how he delved into writing riveting, thrilling, and compelling crime poems which I perceive as something that stands out unique on WordPress. In closing if you’re into reading crime poems that are thought provoking and well written, then check out Jonah Finn’s blog @Crime Poetry by Jonah Finn on WordPress. I’ve had the pleasure of reading a few of his new unreleased poems before this interview was uploaded, so once they are uploaded go check it out because I know I will. I’ll leave links to an essay he wrote about the current state of poetry and creative writing in school curriculum’s and also a blog page where he has details on his upcoming book. Enjoy the read and I’M OUT. PEACE
  • “Bone Antler Stone, it’s a collection that spans most of European prehistory” – Jonah Finn
  • “I’ve written a bit about the current state of poetry here, but followed it up with an essay by somebody else from back in 1993″ – Jonah Finn

 

Q1: Out of all the writers I’ve had the pleasure interviewing and interacting with on WordPress, you so far as I know it take the cake for being in a unique niche that is very dark but also compelling. Having said that, what made you so intrigued with writing crime poetry? Were you inspired by crime films or shows that deal with solved or unsolved cases?

 Jonah: I’m obsessed with tradition and continuity, and the books of poetry I’ve published so far (under my “real name”) have modeled themselves on the greatest traditions: the huge universe of world religion, mythology and folklore (To the House of the Sun), and more modestly on the idea of prayer (Hymns & Lamentations). In terms of the shape and sound both of these books took up, among the most powerful influences was ancient Near Eastern literature, whether Egypt or Mesopotamia or the Old Testament; for this reason, both books now feel more like something I “translated” into English. A forthcoming book, mentioned below, felt as I wrote it like a return to the tradition of English poetry, and my crimes poems are a reflection of that, especially in the taking up of rhyme.

This is a long way of saying that I came to crime poetry because it is another tradition, almost another piece of folklore and mythology, that still holds an immense power in the popular imagination. As I say on the website, doing crime poetry is a more conscious attempt to write what could be “popular” poetry, of nodding to poetry’s popular and bardic roots of actively dealing with and expressing a society’s history and immediate anxieties. Of course poetry still does this, but by and large society looks elsewhere for the main expressions of these concerns.

I grew up in a house surrounded by books, and many of the earliest ones I remember were true crime. Through my dad I came to have an abiding interest in serial killers or the mafia, but also in history in general, and often its more brutal aspects. In grade-school sometime, when I first saw pictures of the starving and dead at Auschwitz, they looked to me like the starving Union soldiers who had been kept at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, during the Civil War. I had already been living with these photos, since they were in American history books at home. I knew pretty early on that much of history was violence and brutality.

 

Q2: You told me that you have a book coming out. Do you have an ideal release date or are you currently still writing it? Also would you ever consider turning some into short stories that could propel you into a novel?

Jonah: It’s coming out in the UK, probably in July or August. Called Bone Antler Stone, it’s a collection that spans most of European prehistory, from the famous cave paintings of Chauvet and Lascaux, to the “barbarian” contacts with Greece and Rome. This is another huge tradition to get lost in, that of ancient Europe. These are, I guess, “archaeology poems,” going into the artefacts, graves, villages, and sacred sites that have been dug up, and imagining their lives. There’s a great language and vocabulary archaeologists have at their disposal to describe the past, and I wanted to utilize that in poetry. In the same way, the vocabulary of crime—whether of violence, or of investigation—is equally like its own language, and I want to do the same thing there.

If I’ve learned anything at all from writing both poetry and fiction, it is almost immediately being able to gauge whether an idea is a poem or a story, let alone a novel. Both the crime or archaeology poems could be turned into stories or novels by somebody else, but I don’t quite have the imagination required for historical fiction, or for a thriller. If I have any strength it’s in the brief burst of image or speech that can suggest the rest—someone commented that the crime poems could be novels, which I take to be a compliment, that they are a compressed universe that the reader imagines the rest of.

And to be honest, one reason I won’t make longer prose pieces out of them is because that’s already been done. Many of the crime poems are inspired by books and movies and documentaries (there will likely be a poem on just this subject: the whole range of crime writing and TV and movies, from the most lurid and sensational on up). There’s a great BBC serial killer drama, The Fall where, during the investigation into one of the murders—the strangling of a woman—the detective says that all the neighbors remember hearing from the victim’s home was a hair dryer, in the middle of the night. I took that idea and made my poem, “The Hairdryer.” I also just read James Ellroy’s memoir about his mother’s murder, My Dark Places, and on page two he says his mother’s pearl necklace, which had been broken, was found two dozen feet from her body, on the road, and that a policeman was seen circling each scattered pearl with chalk. That detail will almost certainly become a crime poem, and it’s images like that which get a poem going.

 

 

Q3: You’re relativity new to the WordPress community, so how has your experience on the site been so far. Have you come across fellow poets who you built rapport with? Feel free to give shout outs if any come to mind.

Jonah: While I’ve only been doing the crimepoetry.wordpress.com for a few months, I’ve been over at wordandsilence.com, or some version of it, for more than ten years. The best poets I’ve come across are Daniel Paul Marshall, David Cooke, and J. S. Belote, three vastly different poets who are doing their own thing in marvelous ways. Jeff Sypeck’s Beallsville Calendar is also one of the best books of poetry I’ve read in awhile. Daniel and Jeff also each have amazing blogs.

Q4: What is your writing process like, do you hand write or type a draft? Or do you think of a theme and immediately start typing?

Jonah: Poetry is always handwritten to start, in a notebook only used for poems. For me poetry has to have its own place, it has to be approached almost superstitiously or religiously. As I said above, a poem almost always starts with an image or an anecdote I want to explore; but even then I usually have to wait until the first line comes. For instance: the second poem published here, “St. Magnus Cathedral,” is about a church on the Orkney islands of Scotland. I had tried to write a poem about this church many times, and gave up for more than a year; but when those first lines came, “In the sandstone walls of St. Magnus/are many migrations, many raids/and inroads and many an exodus,” I knew instinctually that the rest would follow easily. And it did. There’s really no answer for how or why this happens, and half the battle with poetry seems to be just being available and aware of when it does.

Sometimes a first handwritten draft will come out easily, with hardly any changes; sometimes the page is covered in deletions and replacements; it all depends. Sometimes I’ll write a second or third draft by hand, but usually that’s not necessary, since the notebook isn’t the place to finish, but to begin. Later, usually a few days, if I think whatever I’ve written by hand is worth pursuing, I’ll type it out, and it’s always a big deal to have a poem graduate from the notebook to the computer. It gives it a sense that it might actually last and be something I send out. (To give you an idea, all told about ninety poems were written for Bone Antler Stone, but only sixty of those were kept in the final collection.) And from then on it’s revised on screen, or printed out on paper, and very often it’s entirely rewritten, and this revision continues for years. But it has to begin by hand, and all along the way it’s read out loud—nowadays, read out loud to my young daughter, who will either love or hate poetry, I can’t tell yet.

 Q5: When someone finishes reading your work, what would you want them to take away from it? Personally I read your writings twice to fully understand the concept at the end, so do you purposely add a complexity to your crime poetry so it’s not a dead giveaway to the reader? (No pun intended)

Jonah: The real goal is empathy, giving the reader the experience or emotion associated with a person or a place or a time in history, giving them a chance to enter into another kind of life. I really believe that art, shorn of all of its theoretical and specific cultural details, is about alleviating loneliness—the loneliness of the artist as well as the audience. Despite all the social and cultural demands today, on the artist and the audience both—whether to become experts at marketing, networking, or in being able to sum themselves up in a succinct profile or identity—most people I know are still pretty awkward in a crowd, and our most meaningful experiences still take place in private, whether with a small group of people, or in the private experience of art. That’s really what I’m after, and the bluster of social media and its variants are nothing compared to having created a character or a sense of place or emotion that is as real to the reader as any actual person, or memory.

As for complexity, I like what one poet said, that he wants his poems to be generally understood on the first reading, but to have enough going on for it to warrant more and more readings. I still remember, at eighteen, driving around by myself listening to T. S. Eliot read his poems. Language and rhythm became a part of me, and I want my poems to be lived with in that way; and with the crime poems, I want people to be able to chant them, for them to get stuck in your head. But the demands of the structure or content—whether adhering to rhyme, or just syllable count, or something personal to the writer—inevitably brings about surprising words choices. But this is why it’s a poem, and not a newspaper article. For me anyway, it’s not a matter of hiding anything from the reader that they have to “figure out,” but just of making a kind of language that is worth their while and their time.

For instance, it’s said that many serial killers will go to public events or town-halls where members of the community can express their worries. So you might read a description of one of these town-halls in a book as part of a larger story, but you wouldn’t necessarily read it over and over again. But here is one of the crime poems I haven’t posted yet, and I hope it’s the kind of thing you would come back to, because it seems haunting or inappropriately sing-song, given the subject:

 

Everyone’s there and so is he,

listening as they all describe him

and saying, It won’t be me.

 

But it will, at least one of them,

and sometime later maybe more –

and in time their twittering babble

becomes a pleasing roar.

 

They talk vigilance, and more police,

they say keep your eyes open, and share:

but their looking is ridiculous

because he’s sitting right there.

Q6: Can you talk about a time or experience that caused you to immerse yourself into writing consistently, especially poetry? Also what did that particular experience means to you?

Jonah: When I was in the sixth grade, my family moved about forty miles away from the city I was born. I was stubborn and refused to make friends in my new home, and almost as a way to deny that we had moved at all, I began writing stories about the weird people in my old neighborhood. By the end of grade-school and into high school, this early stuff had become a huge interior world of probably pretty awful novels and short stories, but they were my escape. I really haven’t stopped writing since then.

Specifically to poetry, late in high school I encountered these lines in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land:

 

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

 

Since I was raised Catholic, I’m sure the earliest poetry—the earliest singing and chanting and reciting of verse—came in church, so it’s no surprise that this stanza hit me so hard, or that Eliot points the reader towards the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel. Back then I couldn’t respond to a lot of English poetry, and while Shakespeare had hit me earlier, it was his ornateness that did it, the idea that it was clever and complex. Whereas Eliot hardly uses an uncommon word, and most are only one or two syllables. It’s plain-spoken in a way, but unbelievably powerful. It took time to appreciate how the rest of the poem takes on more voices and more complexity, but that stanza is still the primal moment for getting into poetry, for me. It’s also a good general lesson in the kind of poetry I still veer towards, and still try to write: that is, rather than describing something strange or complex in language that is also strange and complex, keep to a language that is fairly simple, and pitched just a little bit higher than that of common speech. And indeed, the first chapter of Ezekiel is a great example of this, as Eliot must’ve known.

I found Eliot during the spring and summer before I turned eighteen, and I bought a pocket-sized edition of the poem and carried it everywhere I went, reading and rereading; I remember sitting at a restaurant and going through the poem and being mesmerized by it, and it seemed to be my own secret that no one there knew anything about. If I otherwise felt that I didn’t belong much of anywhere, I suddenly knew that I belonged with this kind of language, that my own personal experiences could be evoked alongside history, and that it could touch somebody like me in the future, sitting alone in a restaurant.

Q7: How would describe the current state of poetry and should schools emphasize creative writing and poetry in English curriculum’s? Did you ever take creative writing courses in high school or college, because I did in college and that was the time when I started writing short stories and poetry. I wasn’t so good in my opinion with the short stories but the poems are what allowed me to excel in the course.

Jonah: I’ve written a bit about the current state of poetry here, but followed it up with an essay by somebody else from back in 1993, which raised many of the same concerns, showing that 2018 isn’t so different. The enthusiasm that poets give to poetry—and which is lavished on the poetry of the past—obscures the fact that most people don’t care for poetry at all; something like less than 10% of people in America read poetry of any kind.

This is disheartening in a way, since it means that the ones who are serious about it are mostly left alone to get on with it. The isolation of the writer seems to me an inevitability, and so anything which stresses it is a good thing. But many people don’t want it to be this way, and so you have the MFA industry, which seems to be less about the work than an excuse for getting into a program to network and build a reputation. People whose judgment I trust that have been through MFA programs all say that eventually a kind of sameness and conservatism is emphasized, whether for poetry or fiction. If this is true, it means that many people starting poetry journals, or the readers for those journals and magazines, and eventually the people-who-know-the-people who-know-the-publishers-and-editors, simply don’t have an eye for quality, so much as for poets good at networking and marketing, encouraging the kind of self-reinforcing echo-chamber thinking that’s damaged our view of the media and the news. Certainly these programs, and the machinery of grants and fellowships and contests and teaching positions that otherwise wouldn’t exist, all keep poets fed, or keep them from working other jobs. But I don’t think these circumstances have necessarily helped to create better poets, or better poetry.

That said, I’m not against the teaching of creative writing or of literature, since the structure of both allow for the kind of accidents that can inspire a serious writer to their vocation, as with your experience. It meant the world to me when, as a freshman in high school, I was allowed into a creative writing class technically meant for older students. But after a certain age, if you keep yourself open to exposure to as much history and culture as possible, these kinds of accidents will happen all the time: just listening to the hundreds of episodes of the BBC’s In Our Time has been a way in to so many things for me. If a young poet asked me what they should do with themselves, I’d say to take a creative writing class or get an MFA if you want, but don’t mistake the camaraderie or competition you find there for the actual substance of writing poetry, or observing the world. I’d say you’re much better off getting on a bus with some notebooks, or immersing yourself in the biographies and letters of writers and artists you most admire; or you’re better off reading the diaries and journals and first-hand accounts of anybody you can find at all, people who would’ve never called themselves writers but have left astonishing records of what it is to be alive.

This is just the bias of my temperament; some people read things through a feminist or Marxist or historicist lens, while I guess I prefer the anonymist lens, since how we deal with fame and the need for attention and recognition—and how we believe this was handled in the past—crosses political and gender and other lines. I even have a book of essays in mind, Isolation and the Artist, that will illustrate how our notions of fame and sociability aren’t nearly as important as, to use Eliot’s words, “the intense moment isolated.” It’s worth remembering that every great idea—every piece of art or religion or culture or philosophy that has since informed and supported civilization—began in one person’s mind and was known only to them. It was, to begin with, private. And especially given social media’s propensity to make everything about everyone public, and make everyone attention whores, writers and artists ought to seek privacy and silence, even anonymity, as much as they can.

 

 

Q8: If you could describe your writing with one sentence how would it go?

Jonah: Empathy, empathy, empathy.

 

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Voices behind the words : An interview series with writers, (Interview #11 Surya Pratap)

  • Welcome readers to another entry on Voices behind the words: An interview series with writers. You’re getting a second helping of an interview this month. As usual this one will definitely be intriguing. This time around I spoke with Surya Pratap of Spirit Sage. He was one of the first bloggers I interacted with when I first joined WordPress in the spring of 2017. With that said, he spoke about his hiatus from the site and making his recent return, his perspective on writer’s block which he surprisingly didn’t know even existed and how he perceives poetry as the supreme form of literature. Additionally, he gave homage to 4 bloggers that he admires. I’ll leave a list of their blogs that you should check out at the bottom of the page. I’m familiar with 2 out of 4 blog sites. In closing, check out his blog site @SpiritSage because he has an eloquence and gaiety to his words that you’ll definitely appreciate. PEACE and WriteOn
Q: After exploring your page I noticed that there was a gap between months which you did not post content. So my question to you is, if you’re comfortable sharing, could you explain why was there a gap of no content uploaded from September until February?
Surya: Yeah, I sure took quite a long gap. Actually RhymeRula, I don’t consider myself much of a writer or a blogger. My writings are more of the conversations that I have within myself. I need to feel something within clearly- be it love, frustration, strength or whatever. I cannot write unless I truly vibe something. It was just a period when I was trying to figure a few things out. When I felt like I had something to express, I was back with Words Unsaid.
Q: What is your writing process like, do you hand write or type a draft? Or do you think of a theme and immediately start typing?
Surya:There are no such patterns actually. I don’t try to compose anything. It’s just like words come by themselves and I just provide an unresistant flow. Sometimes they come to me while driving or cooking or sometimes while at a meeting even. I just have a habit of noting them down somewhere at the very moment. Sometimes, I create a note on my phone or write them down in my diary or whatever seems the easiest accessible thing at the time.
Q: Can you talk about a time or experience that caused you to immerse yourself in writing consistently especially poetry? Also, what did that particular experience mean to you?
Surya: Wow, this seems the hardest question to answer. Well, I believe there are many times in life when you don’t get the chance to express yourself truly. There always remain some incomplete conversations that you long to have. For this, sometimes it is the time that’s to be blamed, sometimes the maturity and, perhaps, sometimes our absurd egos.  But whatever be the reason, all those emotions, that feel clustered inside, need to be channelized. I too began with one such experience and this journey continued. As for poems, I always felt enthralled by them. I even started practicing this hobby with one.
Q: What do you perceive as the biggest pros and cons within the poetry community or blogging in general on WordPress?
 

Surya: I honestly appreciate all kinds of blogging communities. WordPress (and all the other blogging websites) has made it so easy even for amateur writers like me to try and express themselves. The best part is that you can write and exhibit about absolutely anything over here. Nobody is going to judge if you are good at writing or not. People also use it as a platform for various other purposes like advertising, spreading awareness about a specific topic or idea etc. I have loved its concept since the very first day I got to know about it. If I start talking about all the pros of WordPress community, it would probably constitute a whole different post by itself.

However, the only con comes into picture when people start writing just to impress or add up their number of followers. Else, everything’s perfect over here.
Q: What are your favorite book genres? Who are your favorite authors?
Surya: I am an avid reader and I tend to get very picky when it comes to books. I would only have certain genres on my shelf. Mostly it’d be something that stirs me from within but, very rarely, I’d also read something just for the fun of it (though I seldom complete those). So to pick the favorites would be hard for someone like me, however, I’d just recommend a few here –
Think and Grow Rich‘ by Napoleon Hill
The Alchemist‘ by Paulo Coelho
The Shiva Trilogy‘ by Amish Tripathi
Zero to One‘ by Peter Thiel
Benjamin Franklin‘ by Walter Isaacson
The Saint, the Surfer and the CEO‘ by Robin Sharma
Now, you can yourself deduce the genre and kind of authors that excite me.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who love poetry but don’t know how to start? I have some days where I can’t think of something to write so, do you believe in writer’s block?

Surya: Writer’s block! Well if I tell the truth, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of the term (and Wikipedia has a whole article about it). I, personally, don’t believe in any such condition. I’d rather consider it as the inability to understand your emotions. Now, that happens with everybody. Don’t rush it! It ain’t a race. Just try to feel it without putting desperate efforts. Just a suggestion here, make that mirror your best friend. Have a chat with ‘him’ daily!

If you ask me, I’d say poems are the supreme form of literature. The way it intensifies a certain theme or emotion, with or without the rhythmic pattern, just feels so intriguing. No other style of writing related so well to me. Once I perceive a certain link within, words easily group up, and sometimes rhythmically too. But I do struggle to find apt metaphors, though. So, I guess the best advice would be to seek inspiration from somewhere. Feel it. Read as many as you can. Your mind would itself start to device the patterns. And don’t despair, it’ll come in its own time. Desperation only kills creativity.
Q: How would you describe the current state of poetry and should schools emphasize creative writing and poetry in English curriculum?
Surya: I’d say the current state of poetry is not so good. Poems, as beautifully as they were perceived once, have now lost that glory. It’s not that people don’t like poetry now, but perhaps the intensity and assertion that poetry had earlier is lost with age. I don’t recall any such famous names after Pablo Neruda and Maya Angelou. Here, I’d also talk about Hindi poetry. The potency that was there in the poetry of Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Premchand is lost in the literature today.
And I don’t think schools can help much in this situation. Literature can’t be dissolved as a tonic for your brain. I guess that vigor comes when you feel what you’re writing. And it is the appalling reality of today that people don’t actually talk to themselves. Technology, although necessary, has taken over so much that nowadays most of the leisure moment is wasted on some kind of screen. People even go for months without
acknowledging their own emotions. I know it sounds abstract but that’s just what I believe. And sadly enough, there isn’t any app to encourage emotions in a person, yet.
But all thanks to WordPress, it has connected me to some amazing poets whom I love to read. I’ll just suggest a few here-
The writer’s blogk
By the Mighty Mumford
wisdom12blog
Poems in a Coffer
They all have a different style of writing and they all have a beauty in their uniqueness.
Q: I don’t recall ever seeing you on Twitter since a majority of the people I follow on WordPress I also do on Twitter. So do you have any tips for bloggers when it comes to promoting content?
Surya: Yes, I’m not quite active on social media. I just like to keep my circles separate. Although promoting your blog on your social profiles is an excellent way of diverting a huge traffic to your side. I guess choosing the right tags works well too. Another great way is re blogging the posts that you love and that you think would relate better to your page. It’s a win-win thing for both the bloggers involved. And the best old way is to genuinely visit other pages, like them and leave a comment according to how that particular piece of writing made you feel. Also if you would like them to visit a certain post on your blog, leave the link to it in their comments. Most people do like to revert the gesture and would definitely love to visit you back.
Q: When someone finishes reading your work, what would you want them to take away from it?
 
Surya: I always want people to get a glimpse of the feeling that led me to write the post. I want them to understand my perception of things. But above all, I want them all to leave with a lighter heart and a smile on their faces. The world is already full of pessimists and everybody has got their share of problems, I just like to shine a light of optimism on everybody.
Q: When you’re writing, what would one find you doing? What other things do you enjoy doing besides writing?
Surya: Well, I’ve just started a company that is still very small and needs a lot of time. I’m involved in it much of the time. But when in leisure, one would usually find me reading some book or with earphones plugged into the ears beating to Eminem’s or Coldplay’s tracks. But this is quite seldom. Mostly I’d be on the roads seeking the classic less trodden spots around.
Q: Would you ever consider publishing your writing, and if you have how were the reception and reviews? Are you familiar with any publishing literary sites that you’ve been looking into publishing with?
Surya: That definitely would be a dream come true. Although, I’ve never thought about it. I don’t write for anyone. They’re all mine. I don’t share them much. That also is a reason I don’t write many posts.
Q: If you could describe your writing in one sentence how would it go?
Surya: I would refer to it as ‘an honest attempt to express my perception’. Writing, and even this blog, are just my ways to connect with my true self. It happens sometimes that, kneaded in the demeanor of this ‘perfect’ world, you forget to feel your own existence. My blog is my way to align with that.
Surya’s 4 blog site shout -outs
1. @The writer’s blogk
2. @By the Mighty Mumford
3. @wisdom12blog
4. @Poems in a Coffer
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Voices behind the words: An interview series with writers, (Interview #10, Carol J Forrester)

  • Welcome readers to another entry on Voices behind the words: An interview series with writers. It’s the beginning of a new month which means another guest joins me on this series. I’m going to try my best to be concise in this interview excerpt. This time around I spoke with Carol J Forrester of Writing and Works and I asked her about the pros and cons about blogging on WordPress, her rankings on the blogging experience, and what she wants her readers to obtain from reading her work. In addition, she gave an interesting perspective on creative writing in schools and left a blurb from a newspaper article (at the bottom of the page) that explained the negligence in motivating students who would like to partake in learning and practicing poetry. All in all, in terms of information, this is the 2nd most densely packed interviews I’ve done. It’s quite long but I perceive that as a testament to my improvement in conducting these interviews. Check out her blog at Writing and Works, on WordPress and on Twitter @caroljforrester if you have one. That’s all I have to say. Leave a comment if you feel the need too, PEACE.

 

Q: What is your writing process like, do you hand write or type a draft? Or do you think of a theme and immediately start typing?
Carol : So I do a little of everything really. I have a notepad that I always carry around with me that I hand write snippets of stories, poems, blog posts in, and then I also sit down to write pieces from scratch on the computer. I type a lot faster than I write by hand so I prefer writing on the computer most of the while, but I have written chapters for my book out in longhand previously. All in all, it depends on what it is I’m writing. My novel requires a lot of drafting and planning so that’s always been a mix of handwritten and typed, and I go back over that again and again.

I mostly type my short stories and poems from the start. I also redraft these a few times before anyone see them. Long gone are the days when I would post a first draft to my blog. Normally what I do is start off with a line or a word, free-write the first paragraph of so, go back and read what I’ve written aloud, tweaking here or there, and then add the next couple of paragraphs before repeating the process over again.

Q. Rank the following from highest to lowest of importance when it comes to growing your blog on WordPress: likes, a captivating theme, commenting on others work, replying to comments on your page, uploading content frequently, placing categories on a post before posting. Give a brief explanation as to why you numbered them as such.

Carol:

  1. Uploading Content Frequently
  2. Commenting On Others Work
  3. A Captivating Theme
  4. Placing Categories On Work
  5. Replying to Comments On Your Page
  6. Likes

I’ve found the best way of growing my traffic comes from a mix of uploading content frequently and commenting on other blogs. A good percentage of bloggers will give a cursory visit in response to a comment but uploading content regularly is the most important thing you can do. However, over saturating your blog can have a negative impact. Posting every fifteen minutes will leave people unsubscribing as you bombard their feeds with content, and it will also leave you exhausted.

It is also important to make sure that your blog looks the part and most of that is basic stuff. Theme colours should complement your work without blinding a reader or giving them a migraine, and your posts should be well put together and reasonably typo free.

Q. Can you talk about a time or experience that caused you to immerse yourself into writing consistently especially poetry? Also what did that particular experience mean to you?

Carol: Haha! Consistency, now that’s something I would love with my writing. To be honest, writing is part of my everyday life. Even if I’m not putting something down on paper then I’m thinking it over in my head.

Poetry is how I deal with most things that happen to me. Family illness, that death of a friend, romantic ups and down, all of it gets chucked into my poetry. For instance, I picked up an old notepad today and found a poem I’d drafted about talking with my grandmother. In it I talk about not having a boyfriend and the idea of getting married at twenty-one being ridiculous. The funny part? I got engaged at twenty-one. Reading old poetry tends to show my snapshots of my own life and writing it helps me work out, not only how I feel about certain situations, but why certain situations made me feel that way. It is both therapy and breathing
Q4. What do you perceive as the biggest pros and cons within the poetry community or blogging in general on WordPress?

Carol: The biggest pro would be how huge and supportive it is. You find bloggers who will champion your work and cheer you on to write more. I was even told recently that my about page was a little intimidating which I’m taking to be a good thing. I wouldn’t have thought I could actually make anything out of my poetry if it wasn’t for this blog.

The biggest con is a little harder to explain because I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing poetry and posting it on the internet. However, it would have to be how quick people are to praise work just because they want that person to follow them back or like the work on their blog. It actually keeps me from commenting on some blogger’s work because the comments are already filled with people singing their praised and I don’t want to be the only one saying ‘actually, I think you might have been able to do this better here, here, and here’. Being critical is not a bad thing as long as you’re constructive and often I wish that blogger would be more critical with the work that they read. It’s not just about the traffic when it comes to writing blogs, it’s about honing your craft.

Q5. What are your favorite book genres? Who are your favorite author?

Carol: Fantasy fiction is my favourite genre and a few of my favourite authors are Sarah J Mass, Helen Lowe, David Daglish, Derek Landy and Stephen Aryan. There are masses more authors that I love but off the top of my head those are the writes whose books I would snatch up in an instant.

However, I will read just about any genre that is in front of me. The most important rule of learning how to write, is reading whatever you can get your hands on. Even the bad books will teach you something

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who love poetry but don’t know how to start? I have some days where I can’t of something to write so, do you believe in writer’s block?

Just start writing. There is a reason why there are so many types of poetry and that’s because writes never stop exploring. As I said before, reading is the most important part of learning to write so go out and find anthologies both old and new. Read poems written down and listen to poets who perform their work. This year I took part in my first Poetry Slam and it showed me a new side of poetry that I hadn’t really experienced before. I thought I knew what Spoken Word was but it turns out I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I thought.

Write and read because when writes block hits, and trust me it’s a real thing, the only way through it is to put pen to paper and force the words out, no matter how awful they may be.

No one starts off good.

We all get better as we go on.

Some of us become fantastic.

It takes a ton of work and failure to get there though.
Q: How would describe the current state of poetry and should schools emphasize creative writing and poetry in English curriculum’s?

Carol: I read a news article the other day that made me want to weep. (included at the bottom) As someone who rarely uses form when writing poetry because I feel like it focuses too much on forcing poetry into rules and boundaries, I was reminded that often poetry is presented is schools as this lofty genre that only the elite can find their way into. Schools should be showing poetry and creative writing for what it is, an expression of self that can help someone find who they are and show what they are feeling in moments when it seems like the world might be falling. Poets such as Sarah Kay are amazing ambassadors for this type of poetry and the work they do in schools is priceless. No one should ever feel like ‘they can’t write poetry’ just because they haven’t been exposed to a side of poetry that connects with them

Q: Which style of poetry do you like to write the most, and which one do you perceive as your strength out of all of them (Free verse, narrative, haiku)?

Carol: Free verse is the form that I tend to write in most and it’s the only I find easiest to work with. I do love fixed form as well though, it provides a challenge from time to time and can be a great way to force yourself into reassessing how you’re going to say something in order to say it better. That’s why it’s so important to explore different types of poetry because it can show you techniques that you wouldn’t have found otherwise and you just might end up finding a new favourite style.

Q: When someone finishes reading your work, what would you want them to take away from it?

Carol: I think most of all I want them to understand. A lot of what I do these days is writing poems that are designed to show people how my brain works and hopefully help them think about people in a slightly more open way. I deal with anxiety on a daily basis, my mother does as well but almost no one would know that about her because she doesn’t talk about it. Some days it’s crippling and often people don’t understand. They can’t see why it’s something that would literally make getting up and leaving the house a problem. When I’m writing poems about that, I want them to connect with that emotion inside me and I want them to feel what I’m feeling. Writing is unique in its ability to place you in someone else’s skin.
Q: When you’re writing, what would one find you doing? What other things do you enjoy doing besides writing?

Carol: When I’m writing? Most likely I’ll be hunched over my laptop in my office/library. Yes, I built myself a library, abet a small one. I’m almost always surrounded by books when I write and I don’t like a lot of noise so I tuck myself away somewhere quiet.

When I’m not writing? I took up Judo over a year ago and I’m currently working towards my orange belt. I competed for the first time this year and had four fights, two of which I won. Unfortunately, this didn’t get me far enough to compete for a medal but I was proud of my achievement for a first competition.

I also like growing fruit trees and adding to my herb garden as well. The decking outside is full of plant pots that burst into life come summer and fill the garden with lots of fragrances. I mostly like plants that have a use which is why I like herbs and fruit trees. The historical use of herbs in medicine fascinates me which is perhaps why I like growing them. They also have a slightly witchy element to them which appeals to the side of me that loves fantasy fiction.

Q: Would you ever considering publishing your writing, and if you have how was the reception and reviews? Are you familiar with any publishing literary sites that you’ve been looking into publishing with?

Carol: I self-published a collection of poetry and flash fiction a few years ago and it got mixed reviews. It taught me that I’m not cut out for self-publication, my editing isn’t strong enough and I don’t understand enough about the industry to feel confident giving it another go. You can no longer buy that collection and I think that’s for the best.

I’ve had a short story published by The Ink Pantry called A Visit From The Fortune Teller, two poems included in a collection published by Dverse Poets called Chiaroscuro, and a couple of other little pieces published here and there. I’m actually prouder of these smaller pieces than the self-published collection because I honestly feel like they were more polished.

My current aim is to try and traditionally publish a collection of poetry at some point this year or next and start sending off my novel to agents by the end of 2018, the start of 2019. My work has improved immensely over the last three years and it’s now just a matter of putting myself out there with my writing.

http://www.inkpantry.com/a-visit-from-the-fortune-teller-by-carol-forrester/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chiaroscuro-Darkness-Voices-dVerse-Anthology/dp/1979675333/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513174816&sr=1-14&keywords=chiaroscuro

Q: If you could describe your writing with one sentence how would it go?

Carol: A photo album filled with life and fantasy where more often than not the lines start to blur between the two.

 

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Pain (Wednesday Wisdom)

Pain

  • “The ones afflicted with much pain find an outlet with flaws just like themselves to put all that negative energy into, don’t allow it to be you. The feeble minded only prey on a stagnant mindset, so always remember to remain moving”

RhymeRula ©

  • Check out my last narrative piece “The Walk Home” and show some love by liking and following
  • Also be on the lookout for a new poet interview on my interview series  “Voices behind the words”. I should hopefully be uploading it in the next few days. Peace

Voices behind the words (An interview series with writers, interview #8 (Deepti Shah)

  • Welcome readers to another entry of Voices behind the words (An interview series with writers). I’ve been gaining momentum with the last few poet interviews which therefore made me realize the response time from my guests have been quicker than usual, but hey I’m not complaining! As I’ve said in my last entry this is a great way for my followers and others in the WordPress community to learn about yourself and I, so it’s a win-win situation. If anyone is interested  getting the spotlight on them and their work, let’s do it so it can help us move forward. This time around for interview entry #8 I spoke with Deepti Shah of The World Beyond Our Vision. I asked her about what subject matters she would not be willing to write about, her perspective on blog award nominations, and her journey into poetry. Stop by her page and show some love to her poems @The World Beyond Our Vision. I hope you enjoy learning more about her as I have and here is for more interviews to come! Thank You and Peace
  • More collaboration poems in the works so be on the lookout for that. If you have not checked out my last two ones, Majestic Muse and A nationwide calamity (Needing liberation) please do so.

 

Q: Compared the other poets I’ve interviewed I had some difficulties getting an understanding of your background other than that you’re an solid poet. So would you please introduce yourself to the readers about your journey into poetry?

Deepti: I love writing poetry from my childhood,but I never took it seriously ever before.As time goes my crave for poetry and writing increased day by day..and after my post graduation in English literature I created a page for poetry writing..In 2016  I thought for a blog site but not satisfied I feel it quite boring then in 2017 I switched to WordPress and here I experienced a good company of fellow writers creative theme edit feature and easy way to post content.Now I enjoy my writing skills and love learning through others works too.

Q:What is your writing process like, do you hand write or type a draft? Or do you think of a theme and immediately start typing?

Deepti: First I think of a theme and few words to start it.Then I start typing if I feel that the content is good enough to be post I publish it, and if I feel something is missing I keep it as a draft post,and do not publish it until I edit it, review it and feel satisfied.

Q: What are your favorite book genres? Who are your favorite authors?

Deepti: Poetry,drama,romance,mystery are some of the book genres I love.It’s quite difficult to mention few, top 3 in my fav.

List are :Paulo Coelho, Wordsworth, Elif Shafak

Q: I’ve noticed that you write a lot of inspirational and positive poetry. So my question is, do you find any subject matter or theme you would not write about?

Deepti: There are many subject or theme I wouldn’t write.In my work I mostly cover nature,women,love and social rigidity and perception. Maybe in future I will cover more.

Q: This a two part question, when did you join WordPress and what do you hope to accomplish this year on your blog?

Deepti: I join WordPress in 2017 and I hope to accomplish 1000+ followers.

Q: Some writers on WordPress get nominated by others for blog awards, for me it’s always been about putting out consistent content and if I’m nominated then I’m honored, but if not then I’m cool with that. I accomplish to deliver quality content twice a week. So how much significance do award nominations mean to you?

Deepti: I feel honored,I feel glad when someone nominated me.But frankly speaking not only a award nomination but even a single thought is much more significant to me when it comes to blogging.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who love poetry but don’t know how to start? I have some days where I can’t think of something to write, so do you believe in writers block?

Deepti: Yeah! I believe in writers block, and my advice is that to all fellow writers don’t put more stress in structure,feel free, feel devoted,while writing and you will definitely lead to success.

Q: These are two unrelated question. How has your WordPress experience been since joining? Have you done or plan on doing spoken word?

Deepti: It was a nice experience since I join WordPress I came across with many more fellow writers.And learned a lot from their work.

Not yet maybe in future I will do so

Q: Would you ever consider publishing your writing, and if you have how was the reception and reviews?

Deepti: Yes, I am considering publishing my writing.

Q: Which social media platforms do you use to promote your content? Do you have any tips for bloggers when it comes to promoting their content?

Deepti: I mostly use Facebook page and Twitter and LinkedIn to promote my content.I think any social media where you are an active user is a best platform for promoting your content.

Q: If you could describe your writing with one sentence how would it go?

Deepti: For me my writing is a type of Tranquilizer for my worries.So I describe my writing is “Tranquilizer”.

  • Shoutout to Deepti Shah for being a part of this interview series and I’ll be on the lookout for more of her writings as should you. Until next time when I interview a new guest, lets keep on writing to stave off the stress. PEACE

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