Category Archives: Interview

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Stepy Kamei

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Stepy Kamei

 

Poet Stepy Kamei

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? This year it coincides with the one-year anniversary of my first acceptance into a literary journal, so I’ll be celebrating two great poetry-related events! I’m sure I will be writing poetry, of course. I’ll also more than likely be thumbing through Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems yet again, and I’ll be checking out my favorite literary magazines (including Gyroscope!) to read some fresh new poetry.

 Pen, pencil or computer first? Pen to paper first. When I change something (and I always do), I just cross it out. My notebooks are pretty messy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 Who/what are your influences? Sylvia Plath is the reason I got into poetry in the first place. Before being exposed to her work, I thought poetry was annoying, to put it bluntly. Then my sophomore AP English teacher introduced me to “Daddy” and I felt like poetry was not so intangible anymore. Rod Serling is also a great influence on me as a writer because of how he melded entertaining premises with important social critiques.

But ultimately, my own personal life experiences are what influence and inspire my writing the most. I can’t help but write about my life and the people in it; I always have a notebook on me, and I’m constantly interrupting conversations to write something down to reference later. 

 What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? When I’m in the midst of an emotional crisis or emotional turmoil, it’s actually pretty easy for me to write about what I’m feeling; it just pours out of me onto the page. What’s hard is when time passes and I start to come out of the heavy grip of depression, because I don’t feel things quite as strongly, so I can’t really write about it. It’s like emotional constipation, and I guess you could say distressing life events are a laxative. Yep, I just said that.

 What was the worst writing idea you ever had? Probably comparing writing poetry to constipation and laxatives.

 What authors do you love right now? Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, and Neil Hillborn.

 What is the most important role of poets in 2018? I think it depends on what the strengths of the poet are, but in general, I think poets are spokespeople, or maybe even translators in a way. Poets have a gift, and maybe even a responsibility, to translate relatable feelings, fears, and hopes into language that resonates with the public. For poets who find themselves passionate about politics and current events, I’d say their role is to tap into the viewpoints of their chosen community and express that for the larger world to hear. For poets like myself who are part of the confessional movement (writing about our personal life experiences), I’d say our duty is to help people feel less alone in their struggles, whether they be with mental illness, relationships, traumatic events, death, etc.

 Where do you go when you need to recharge? I have such a fondness for places which have little human influence. I’ve done some of my best writing, not to mention personal recharging, when I’m in a literal cabin in the woods away from big city life. I’m an introvert, so while this method of recharging may not be for everybody, it definitely is for me!

 What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? I don’t drink alcohol, so it’s hot chocolate. I’m adorable, I know.

Stepy Kamei lives in North Hollywood, California. Her most recent publications include work in The Bookends Review and four poems in Five:2:One. Find her on Twitter @stepykamei and Instagram @somelaughingghosts.

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Alexis Rhone Fancher

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Alexis Rhone Fancher

Poet Alexis Rhone Fancher

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? My fourth book, a chapbook entitled Junkie Wife, will be published in March 2018 by Moon Tide Press. I’ll spend National Poetry Month promoting it in venues across Los Angeles and Northern California.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Desktop computer. If I’m not at my desk, I write “Notes” on my iPhone, which I can access from my desktop. I haven’t handwritten anything but an occasional scrawled idea or two in decades!

Who/what are your influences? I studied with the great poet/mentor Jack Grapes for four years. He taught me to read critically, and with an open mind. I read Catullus as often as I read Dorianne Laux, Sharon Olds, or Matthew Dickman. Lately I’m enamored of Rebecca Faust, Jillian Weise, Tony Hoagland, Tony Gloeggler, Jenn Givhan, Ocean Vuong, Lee Rossi, Michelle Bitting, and Ada Limon. The city of Los Angeles is a huge presence in my poems. Since moving back to the beach after four years in a downtown L.A. loft space, writing city-driven poems, nature has re-entered my poems in a big way. 

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? Writing about my dead son is hardest, and yet I keep writing “those” poems. I feel compelled. My chapbook about his death, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, was published in 2015 by KYSO Flash Press. But still, the poems come. The hard part is slipping back out of that “grief state” I must put myself in, in order to write the poem authentically. It’s tricky. And doesn’t always work. Stay out of your head! I tell myself. It’s a bad neighborhood!

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? Updating a chapbook I wrote in 2010. It didn’t work then, and even after the update, my publisher wasn’t impressed. The idea is good, though. I might bonfire the ms. and begin again…

What authors do you love right now? On my nightstand, poetry books by: Tiana Clark, Lynne Knight, Jack Gilbert, Ocean Vuong, Ace Boggess, Frank O’Hara, Michelle Bitting. I received a signed copy of L.A. novelist, Janet Fisk’s latest novel, The Revolution of Marina M. for Christmas. Janet’s first novel, White Oleander, has long been a favorite of mine.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? To be a light and a mirror. To write the truth. To be fearless.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? I meditate each morning. Exercise, getting out of my head and into my body, is also key. And my spectacular spouse is an expert at helping me recharge. I live a mile from the beach; a beachwalk is very restorative. If all else fails, Big Sur is my favorite destination.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? Coconut water. If I’m drinking, I’m a fool for Macallan single malt whisky, or Glenmorangie Scotch. I’ve developed a taste as well for a Japanese whisky called Hibiki.

Alexis Rhone Fancher lives in San Pedro, California (Los Angeles). Her most recent publication is ENTER HERE (KYSO Flash Press, 2017). (Editor’s note: Gyroscope Review published a review of her book in 2017 HERE.)  Visit Alexis’ website: www.alexisrhonefancher.com.

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Laura Foley

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Laura Foley

Poet Laura Foley

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? Two towns in my area post poems all over town and put on poetry readings. I love to participate and to walk around the streets, reading poems posted in all kinds of venues. One year, my poem “Gelato” was placed in the window of an ice cream parlor. I went in, and the owners treated me to a free ice cream cone!

Pen, pencil or computer first? Always pen first, in a leather notebook I carry everywhere. Later comes computer.

Who/what are your influences? Main influences are meditation practice and Buddhist philosophy (I’ve had a daily practice since 2003), chaplaincy, working in the field of death and dying, meditation groups in prison, and a foundation in American and English literature, especially poetry (I studied up to PhD level at Columbia U.). Also, life experiences, raising three children alone after the death of my husband, one of my children being diagnosed with autism, discovering at mid-life my attraction to women, finding a partner and marrying her, becoming a grandmother recently.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? What was the worst writing idea you ever had? (Editor’s note: the author chose to answer these questions together.) I think usually what seems hardest opens and yields a treasure. For a long time, all I wrote about was the death of my husband. I was tired of the subject, but it kept coming up. A workshop leader once advised me to change topics, and I felt so restricted by that, so angry, that I sat down and wrote an anapestic rant poem, which, by the way, went on to win an award, was published, was nominated for a Pushcart. (It starts: “She’s dreaming of the hole in the ground in the field where he lies, again./The field of alfalfa they hayed for twenty years, again.”)

What authors do you love right now? I love Rilke, Rumi, Roethke, Neruda, Oliver, David Ferry. Adrienne Rich. Pat Fargnoli. Barbara Crooker. May Sarton. Ruth Stone. Many many others. Jane Kenyon. Donald Hall, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Whitman, Dickinson…

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? I think it’s important in 2018 and any year for the poet to be the one to take the time to “do nothing.” Just being, being a “human being” rather than a “human doer” is important. Someone who looks around, who isn’t lost in the vortex of worry, who steps away and perceives the greater wisdom. It’s a separation suffused with caring. It’s a kind of prayer.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? My wife and I like to spend time at the ocean, in Cape Cod (we live in the hills of Vermont). We love to walk on the beach, observe tidal pools, seals in the surf, water birds of all kinds, even whales, spouting just off shore. We also like to walk the busy streets of our favorite town on Cape Cod, a gay mecca.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? I like peppermint tea after dinner, with a cookie and dark chocolate. My wife is a wine connoisseur, and I do enjoy taking sips of her fabulous wines (I drink almost no alcohol myself).

 Laura Foley lives in South Pomfret, Vermont. Her most recent publications include WTF (Word Tech Communications) and “Fractalization” on Swwim Every Day. Visit Laura’s website, www.laurafoley.net, or find her on Twitter @laurafoleypoet.

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National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Daniel Edward Moore

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Daniel Edward Moore

Poet Daniel Edward Moore

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? I am a co-founder of the Oak Harbor Poetry Project, which is a monthly reading at the Oak Harbor Library in Oak Harbor, Washington. In April, we are offering my workshop, “Writing Poetry Inside Out,” free to the public.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Most of the time, I begin early drafts of poems on the computer, which evolve there as well.

Who/what are your influences? My work is deeply informed by reclaiming Biblical history and then synchronizing it with erotica and Buddhist psychology. Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen have a serious impact on my work, as does the performance work of Marina Abromivic.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? I would say, the art of poetry itself is the hardest thing to write about because it is so radically subjective and experiential. It’s like trying to describe the breath or breathing.

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? I really don’t have what I would call a “worst” idea. But as far as subject matter, in general, I think working with nature as a topic, in any form, is very difficult to do well, due to its already imperfect perfection.

What authors do you love right now? Rachel McKibbens, Michael Bazzett, Ocean Voung, and Sam Sax.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? I think perhaps the most important role of poets at any time is to be radically honest about who you are, and how your work can be both a mirror of yourself and the world you live in, both of which can shine and shatter, one poem at a time. What really matters is to enrapture and disturb.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? I live on Whidbey Island in Washington, which is on the Northwest corner of America, and is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. So, I don’t have to go far if I choose to be in a natural solitary space of being. But in my living room at 4:00 AM, every day, in front of Buddha with my puppies is a sacred place for me.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? Either water or a glass of red wine.

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Oak Harbor, Washington. His most recent publications include his book, Confessions Of A Pentecostal Buddhist, published last year and available on Amazon, and his poem, “Parasympathetic Pink,” in a recent issue of Natural Bridge. Visit Daniel’s website: danieledwardmoore.com. He is also on Facebook.

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