5 Burning Questions with Israfel Sivad

As well as feature our future readers, we also wanted to check in with folks who have read for us over the last 5 years.  Israfel Sivad read for us in 2019 – read what he has been up to below!

What have you been up to since reading with us at Writers & Words? How has the writing been going?

Well, like most of the world, I’ve been on lockdown with my family. We’re currently in the process of moving from Alexandria, VA to Baltimore right now, however, which is very exciting to us. My wife went to high school in the city, and my grandfather lived there while I was growing up. In fact, we were married at the American Visionary Art Museum. We love Baltimore, and we’re looking forward to becoming residents of it and raising our child there. On top of the logistics of moving during a global pandemic, I’ve still been finding plenty of time to write.

What are you working on right now (writing or otherwise (nothing is a valid answer as well))?

Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on my memoir, which I hope to have published in the coming year sometime. The memoir tells two stories… a forward going tale revealing how I fell in love with and proposed to my wife, and a backward story of my lifetime battles with drug addiction and mental illness. It’s a new kind of project for me, and I’m very proud of it. In addition to that, I’ve been plugging away on what I think will wind up being my first young adult novel. It’s a coming-of-age story about a kid who gets clean and sober in the early 1990s at the tender age of 15.

What has been your favorite Quarantine Read thus far?

So far, the only book I’ve read during quarantine has been Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times. I’ve never really read Dickens before, and I enjoyed it. As I know most of his writing does, it deals with a lot of social justice issues from industrial England in the 19th century. A good read, but not exactly my favorite thing I’ve ever come across. Still, I’d like to read more Dickens, especially his classic A Tale of Two Cities.

How would you describe the writing community where you live in just a few words?

Hmmm… not too familiar with the writing community in Alexandria. We only lived there for two years, and our child was born shortly after we moved there from DC. DC had a very vibrant community that I was proud to be a part of, albeit at a bit of distance. But I’m really looking forward to getting plugged into the community in Baltimore. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for the city’s arts scene, and I’m thrilled that I will soon get to be a part of it!

What would be a few words of advice you would give someone wanting to get into any writing community?

Be kind, be humble, and just do it. In my experience, writers love sharing what they’ve learned, and we’re all in this together. There’s no reason not to put yourself out there and join a writing group or start giving readings. I’m actually very shy, and it’s taken me a long time to get comfortable joining my local writing communities, but every time I take another step, I find myself fully embraced.

Bonus question: what level of quarantine are you at? 1) relaxing with a book,  2) the dog clears her throat too loudly,  3) hot dog fries, 4) THE PRINTER IS BROKEN I DON’T NEED A PRINTER, 5) I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.

Currently, 1) relaxing with a book. But it took me a while to get here…


Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, an international spoken word/music project, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. He is also the lyricist for indie rock group One & the Many. His writing is known for offering cryptic commentaries on human nature, heavy with references to contemporary culture and mythology.

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