For National Poetry Month, Gatsby and I will read a poem a day.
For National Poetry Month, Gatsby and I will read a poem a day.
I met Kallie through a Facebook group for people applying to, or currently attending, MFA Programs. She is a wonderful woman who runs a blog called Tell Tell Poetry. She is very driven and talented. I loved how she described her manuscript in progress. She says: I am interested in the idea of possession. Not like ghosts possessing my body, although that may be part of it, but more about the type of possessing that we do daily–the interaction we have with our objects, our lovers, ourselves.
We are waiting to be submerged into something.
She is a kindred spirit (ha!) because I, too, love possessions! Although not the scary kind. In fact, I just watched a paranormal show about possession and am finding it hard to sleep.
Please read Kallie Rose’s interview HERE
Kallie is an MFA candidate at Wichita State University.
So, last week I participated in the Next Big Thing and chose to tag other writers to continue this interview.
Today, I want to introduce you to Hila Ratzabi. She is a fellow MFA graduate and poet. I have many fond memories of spending time with her in NYC at various readings or just for lunch to chat about our lives and our work. Since then we have both moved. She went to Philadelphia (where she is doing great things for the writing community there, which you will read about in her Next Big Thing) and I moved back to Texas. Throughout it all, we keep in touch via gchat, emails, poetry exchanges and sometimes, a phone call. She is a wonderful writer, beautiful person, and true friend.
Read her Next Big Thing Post HERE.
Hila Ratzabi was selected by Adrienne Rich as a recipient of a National Writers Union Poetry Prize, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and received an Amy Award (Poets & Writers Magazine). Her chapbook, The Apparatus of Visible Things, is published by Finishing Line Press, and her poetry is published in a variety of journals. Her book-length poetry manuscript, No One Blue, has twice been a finalist for the To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize. She is the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Storyscape. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2007.
Thank you to Caitlin Thomson for asking me to participate in this project called “The Next Big Thing.”
Originally, I was supposed to post this on March 13th, but busy life and busy schedule, I completely forgot. So, I apologize.
Below I will respond to a standard set of interview questions about my writing projects.
1. What is the title of your book? Is it a working title?
My chapbook is called Hummingbird Mind which is in the pre-order stage at the moment. It was picked up by Mouthfeel Press. The chapbook is actually a selection from my larger manuscript that has the working title: A Stranger Longing.
2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
While I was attending Sarah Lawrence College for my MFA back in 2008 to 2010, I started researching thought disorders, schizophrenia, mystics, physics. Somehow they all seemed to tie into one another. You can imagine what 8 hours in a library every day reading books on such topics will get you: many voices going on at once and strong ones at that with vivid imaginations and lots of energy. It was also a very big shift for me, living in New York and having nothing I had to do outside of create pieces of writing. I was in heaven, albeit a very frantic, overwhelmed heaven. Hummingbird Mind was a term I ran across one day in the library. It is a casual, non-scientific term for a scattered brain.
3. Who and/or what inspired you to write your book?
I think my book was just waiting to come out. It’s hard to say who or what inspired me. I have always been writing. From the earliest of ages, I carried a notebook around with me. In those early days I was writing to God to try to understand EVERYTHING. It’s funny how things always circle around. Now, I write to God and to myself and to the spirit in us all. I want to speak it out, speak to it, bring it alive. Even the dark, too. For it cannot be hidden or ignored, but wrestled with like an angel that will ultimately bless you.
And, as my mom always likes to point out: my whole life I have created “scripts” in my head and somehow seen reality through such scripts. Sometimes that can be extremely unhealthy, so I think my only outlet was to write things down. Get them on paper. Also, writing is quite powerful. Something called forth and brought to life. It is an exorcism of sorts. And possibly I have always felt the need to explain myself to others, or the world to myself.
4. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have been working on the manuscript, the larger manuscript from where the chapbook emerged, since my Sarah Lawrence days. That would make it about 5 years now. I am always working on my manuscript. The chapbook itself is finished now and only that happened at the end of 2012. I get nervous just thinking about holding it in my hand when the book is ready to ship at the end of this month. I will more than likely want to continue changing it. I think every writer must feel this way with a finished project.
5. What genre does your book fall under?
I don’t like to put “genres” in the same space as “poetry.” Poetry encompasses everything, doesn’t it? Though certainly I play with form a lot. I am particularly proud of this chapbook collection as it has very many different forms. Very playful. Then again, the content is based on thought disorders and such…I am heavily based in imagery. But there is a lot of space for reflection and contemplation.
6. What books would you compare yours to in your chosen genre?
I do not know. There are so many different influences. But I will say this: I remember while attending Sarah Lawrence and working deep in the ditches of this manuscript, someone told me to read Liz Waldner. I chose her book “A Point is That Which Has No Part” and I remember thinking, WOW! I really relate to this work! And I did. I love how she plays with concepts and language. Her background in mathematics shows through. Again, very playful but highly contemplative work.
7. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
There is no room here for order, but one must order the room in order to sense the beautiful way in which we fly out of our bodies into spirit and hover over a still point which we all meet.
8. Do you have a publisher, or will you self-publish your book or seek representation?
Maria Miranda Maloney at Mouthfeel Press is publishing this book. And my good friend, Goodloe Byron, stepped in to design the gorgeous cover art. He is simply talented and did some recent work for CA Conrad.
10. What else about your book might pique readers’ interest?
It has therapists, concert pianists, hospitals, doctors and more therapists.
9. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie or to read your work for a recording?
Gina Davis, Kathleen Turner and Sam Elliot! I think I have a theme here: all deep, sexy voices.
I have picked the following writers to respond to this blog next week:
Hila Ratzabi. You can find her blog HERE
Jacey Blue Renner. You can find her blog HERE
Francine eats oranges like they are herself in a field after a long swim in the river next to her father’s house and she is warm in the field, slightly wet. Francine understands memories are stones, some heavier than others, some shinier, too but all are for the pocket, which could bury us if we chose to go alone into the river without St. Gabriel to save us. Francine plows her mother’s bones, because she’s alone, she writes, inside her suffering. I want a grove, she writes, of oranges happy to be oranges and a father to tend to them while I catch fish in the river. Francine eats oranges like they are herself in a field after a long swim in the river.
It was supposed to be the day I expressed affection but we had fought the night /before. Coming home from church. About catching a break of some sort. I was /driving. We were turning onto our street. Yelling. He may have been crying. Outside / wind. From El Paso, it began, made its way down I-20, gathering tumbleweeds into /its arms, scooping children’s toys into its teeth. It didn’t mind what, I suppose, but / particularly dust, until it was itself a cloud. Willing to become a body that wasn’t / anything in particular, just bits of everything and everyone. The world was a / windstorm. Into the next day, driving, again. It kept rolling, into the bones of / everyone it brought with it cold. The brown of the dress. It’s body, wind, the whirl / turned. Like the Greeks, we screamed into each other’s throats until the world / became the fight. But how beautiful, the roar of it to fall in love with everything like / freeing the clothesline of the just-departed.
I am excited and nervous to begin my Poetry Marathon: the 30/30 (or in this case 31/31) Project! Here is the release sent out by Jeffery Levine at Tupelo Press, below: Know that I need encouragement and support and if you feel you can give, please donate. Take note: I do NOT receive ANY of the funds. All donations go to Tupelo Press. Tupelo is doing amazing things for poets and writers. They take care to publish voices that need to be heard and they hold conferences with scholarships, produce beautifully crafted books and genuinely care for, and believe in, the arts and the artistic community. I am proud to take part in helping support them.
Again, here is the information below. And I will keep posting links to the website each day so you can follow me and the rest of the poets participating. (A link to their bios included below).
For January 2013, we have 9 volunteers!: T.M. De Vos, Shannon Hardwick, Lindsay Penelope Ilich, Mike McGeehon, Janie Miller, Nina Pick, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, Allyson Whipple, and Margaret Young. You can read all about them by clicking here.
Please follow their work, and feel free to acknowledge their generosity and creativity with a show of your admiration and support by donating on their behalf to Tupelo Press. (Click here to donate, scroll down to the form at the bottom, and put a contributor’s name in the “honor” field.) Just imagine what a challenge it is to write 30 new poems in 30 days!
To read their poems and visit the 30/30 Project, just click here.