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
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.