5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH SIMPLY SHERRI

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

I’m a poet, and I love the freedom of form I can take with my work. As a performance poet, I love seeing people react, interact and take in the poem. It’s like we are sharing that experience.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

Currently reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and listening to The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson while commuting.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

All my poems are from a person place. I will write about all areas of my life but keep names out of it.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

I feel like I’ve cracked the part of my chest where my emotions live. Its joy, fear and release all at the same time.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

Yes, I write blog articles for a pop culture website and I am toying with the idea of writing a suspense style novel.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

YUP without the fear I had when I started.

~

Come on out to Writers & Words TOMORROW,  Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons to see Simply Sherri and our other wonderful readers!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH KATIE FEILD

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

i love when a small and simple piece of writing or music feels like a whole complex being in itself & we’re hanging out together & i’m listening to it and thinking it’s just the best thing i’ve ever had the privilege to share time with.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

julian jaynes
the origin of 
consciousness
in the break
down of the 
bicameral mind

i’m reading this because of my current obsession with artist ian cheng’s emissaries (endlessly evolving simulations generated using a video game engine), which came out of his reading this book.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

i do. even if i am prompted by something seemingly external, it wraps back around to myself, or can be applied to myself too. i have noticed i only produce what i can access at the present though. i’m not sure i draw a line. i’m not thinking about that anyway. my pieces are experiential blips. tiny things that i have enlarged to see better.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

i feel that crayola could manufacture tasty edible crayons or crayon prosthetic arms and legs.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

to date, everything i make is typically in scale within my arms or hands, and within reach – meaning i am able to hug or hold that thing, and access it easily. so it’s usually small and not particularly expansive, in the form of a poem, short writing or song. i don’t apply this as a limitation. the writing i make just happens in that way for me.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

could you repeat the question?

~

I can’t wait to see what ‘experimental blips’ Katie has in store for Writers & Words Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons. Come out, drink coffee, hear words, have fun.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DALE BERAN

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

I switch disciplines a lot. It’s sort of like pushing all of the buttons to see which one does anything. In this metaphor I am in a rocketship hurtling toward the sun and don’t know how to work it. I spent years writing novels, comics, and some poetry but recently my nonfiction work has been getting a lot of attention so I’ve been writing more of that. I really enjoy trying to characterize something in the most eloquent way possible using a set of ideas. Actually, it’s an agonizing struggle. But it’s really satisfying when I’m done and either I have defeated it or it has defeated me. I like hearing from people who say they read my work and it really changed their thinking on something, or clarified an issue for them they never understood. So I guess it’s the end result I enjoy. Like the most satisfying part about building a house is living in the house, or in this case, writing an essay then getting a small amount of money that could never buy you a house and maybe also some mild attention on the internet.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

I am re-reading several books for an essay I’m writing. These include Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, J. Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man, Isaac Asimov’s Life and Energy— all excellent and interesting books. Arendt’s book is a particularly astonishing work that really lends insight to history and politics on so many levels. I’m also reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It’s pretty good! So far it’s been a succession of ever more uncomfortable tea parties, but that’s my jam (pun intended). I’m slowly learning to navigate the perils of picking a respectable suitor in 19th century England for an educated young lady with a discerning disposition. I’m enjoying it not as much as Wuthering Heights, but more than Jane Eyre.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

Yes, but I do it less and less. I regard it as something you have to do when you start. All unskilled art immediately divulges everything the artist doesn’t even know about themselves. All novelists’ first books are about themselves. If they’re not, it means that they just wisely burned that first book Kafka-style. But once the novelist learns to get out of the way, generally the books get much better. Abstracting out your own experience being a human being so other humans can relate to it and feel better about being a human is the sweet spot.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

Sounds about right.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

Yes, almost all genres, except poetry these days, not because I wouldn’t enjoy it, I just don’t think anyone would read it. Well, I guess I also don’t write plays or screenplays because it’s already a struggle to complete a work and get it to an audience in a way that is acceptable so I would never set out to write something that would be inherently incomplete unless some filmmaker or director I trusted wandered by or something.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

No, only some of it.

~

Come out and hear Dale read at Writers & Words Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons. I, for one, am hoping or more tea party puns.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH NATHAN HOLLAWAY

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing(s) about writing is the challenge of the craft and the freedom of the art. I enjoy being able to get my words, thoughts, and/or feelings out in a way that is creative and true to me. Then, I have to work hard to shape it into the best version of it and something that I feel confident in people reading.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, and is this also your favorite genre to write?

Although I do primarily write Creative Nonfiction, my favorite genre to read is Poetry. It may surprise people to read my vignettes and hear that it’s not Fiction, but, I feel, poetry is the ultimate guide to breaking rules as well as keeping to them. It doesn’t need to claim that it’s creative or experimental. Poetry can do its own thing, and that’s what I love about it.

  1. Describe your ideal writing situation (think writing space (Office? Shed? Attic?), routine or no routine, snacks available).

I always joke about one day owning a log cabin out in a rural, wooded location along a dirt road, but not too far from a town. Also, WiFi would be a must. Really, I could do with just a quiet room, a desk, a computer, lots of coffee, and any non-greasy food. As for routine, I don’t have any preferred time of day or length. I simply write when I can for as long as I can.

  1. What is something you would love that your readers know about you as a writer? (That you love cats? That you edit pieces literally 1,000 times before they see the light of day?)

Every piece that I write, before even a trusted friend sees a draft for constructive feedback, is probably in its tenth rewrite, at least. I have a habit of repeatedly tweaking pieces, but I still keep older versions, just in case.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, my most re-read book is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I have read it for high school, undergrad, and my own enjoyment about a dozen times, very likely more. It’s a great work of fiction that effectively emulates memoir. I have met a few people who thought it was a work of Nonfiction. I find that to be a credit to O’Brien’s abilities as a writer. The book is visceral and real, filled with emotion, action, and suspense. O’Brien’s voice is clear and natural, something that is not always easy to find.

Bonus question: May is National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month, among other undoubtedly more important observances. Thoughts?

Of course, hamburgers and eggs share the same month. If you’ve never had a fried egg on a hamburger or cheeseburger, then you are missing out on something wonderful, albeit not healthy. I feel like the lesson should be: Even if something seems mundane, liking paying respects to food items, we should still be grateful for the things we have.

~

Those are some wise words about hamburgers, Nathan. Words to live by. Come out to Charmingtons this Tuesday, May 9th and hear Nathan and our other fab readers at Writers & Words!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS​ WITH TECLA

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Writing is the best way to find out if you are actually interesting.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, and is this also your favorite genre to write?

           Science Fiction and three bottles of wine.

                I like to quote from that same page.

           I love to write about the future of our own lives

  1. Describe your ideal writing situation (think writing space (Office? Shed? Attic?), routine or no routine, snacks available).

My ideal space for the head to live in

is the nowadays

             and I will try to make sure I win that game

I am eating most of the time.

  1. What is something you would love that your readers know about you as a writer? (That you love cats? That you edit pieces literally 1,000 times before they see the light of day?)

       I would love you to know that I have a chance to look at

                  the final result of this communication 
and destroy
all the details of its life

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

The book I am currently yelling at is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

   It has done an important thing to my mind

Bonus question: May is National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month, among other undoubtedly more important observances. Thoughts?

My thoughts? 

On the other days

things are going well for the head

of the most amazing girl

in the middle of nowhere
**DISCLAIMER**

answers were given using predictive text and may or may not represent the artists’ true designs

~

I’m glad to hear that things are going well for the most amazing girl in the middle of nowhere.  We wish her all the best.

Come out to Charmingtons on Tuesday, May 9th, and see what else Tecla, our wonderful wildcard, has to say.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH MALKA OLDER

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

That moment when an idea emerges in my brain and it feels exactly right.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, and is this also your favorite genre to write?

Fiction, although sometimes I enjoy reading and writing non-fiction too.

  1. Describe your ideal writing situation (think writing space (Office? Shed? Attic?), routine or no routine, snacks available).

Ipod on shuffle, tea at hand, laptop that does not overheat. A few projects that are very different in tone, setting, approach so that I can switch around if I get stuck on one.

  1. What is something you would love that your readers know about you as a writer? (That you love cats? That you edit pieces literally 1,000 times before they see the light of day?)

When I start a novel I rarely know much about the plot, because I like to read books that surprise me, and writing books that surprise me is, possibly, even better (see answer to #1).

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

Probably LotR, but that’s just because I re-read it SO MANY TIMES as a kid. If anything could challenge it maybe Jane Eyre?

Bonus question: May is National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month, among other undoubtedly more important observances. Thoughts?

Mayday special: hamburger with a fried egg on top.

~

As another LotR fan, I salute you.  Come out to Charmingtons on Tuesday, May 9th and hear Malka and our other wonderful readers at Writers & Words!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH LEON THORNTON, JR

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love how words provoke an emotional connection or response (whether good or bad) with readers.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, and is this also your favorite genre to write?

Poetry is my favorite genre to read and write.

  1. Describe your ideal writing situation (think writing space (Office? Shed? Attic?), routine or no routine, snacks available).

Though the ideal place to write/type is at a desk, thoughts and ideas come to me anytime and anywhere (i.e. shower, car, while watching television, etc.).

  1. What is something you would love that your readers know about you as a writer? (That you love cats? That you edit pieces literally 1,000 times before they see the light of day?)

Although poetry is only one aspect of my being, it is an important part of me. It is a creative tool that allows me to sculpt my raw emotions into what I hope to be a living, breathing masterpiece.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

Wow! Great question. Probably Native Son by Richard Wright or poetry by Langston Hughes. In my opinion, Native Son is one of the greatest novels I ever read in high school. Although I did not grow up on the Southside of Chicago, I empathized with the fictional character Bigger Thomas. As a child, I recall watching television commercials in the 1970’s and wondering why very few people looked like me. I, too, grew up in an apartment in a poor environment, and wished my mom and dad could buy the expensive brand name cereals, all of the time, as opposed to the “No Frills” or “Knockoff” brands. In addition, the inequities of life inside and outside my town were quite evident whenever I rode the bus or my parents/friends drove me through other towns in Nassau County, Long Island, NY. I remember thinking concrete was just as nice a green grass – but not as soft. I was always jealous of white students from other public schools, because their baseball and football fields had plush, green grass whereas our fields had crabgrass, weeds, or missing grass. Similar to Bigger Thomas, at times I felt like I was looking through a knothole in a fence at others who fully embraced, enjoyed, and proudly wore the fabric of American Society.

Bonus question: May is National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month, among other undoubtedly more important observances. Thoughts?

That’s interesting! Now I love a good hamburger and a hardboiled egg! Still, a whole month dedicated to an egg speaks volumes about our society. I don’t know, perhaps labeling the month of May as National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month is simply a way to promote nutrition (although these are not the most nutritious products). Or perhaps it is just a clever way for the meat and poultry industries to promote their products and boost sales. Regardless, we should always put more focus on more civic-minded and important observances during May, such as Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage, Jewish-American Heritage Month, National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Month, National Mental Health Month, or National Physical Fitness & Sports Month. If not, then it is an unfortunate example of how far we have come as a society – and how much value people put into certain causes (i.e. egg vs. human health).

~

Thank you for highlighting many much more important national observances in May, Leon. I feel like ‘egg vs. human health’ would be a good title for something.  Come out to Charmingtons on Tuesday, May 9th and hear Leon read his poetry at Writers & Words!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH JUNG YUN

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?

Wanting to write and not having the time. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and something in my brain shuts off when I’m away from my desk and books and chair. In a hotel room, it’s pretty much guaranteed that no writing will take place. Just lots of Law and Order watching and self-loathing.

  1. Have you read any good books about writing, or do you stay away from such things?

Ben Percy’s essay collection, THRILL ME, explores some of the similarities and differences between literary fiction and genre fiction. The essays are accessible and engagingly written for writers at all levels, and it’s particularly fun imagining Ben’s one-of-a-kind voice as you read them: https://www.graywolfpress.org/blogs/most-terrifying-story-youll-ever-hear

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many power verbs as possible.

Writing frustrates and confounds. It interrupts dinner and weddings and sleep; it doesn’t have manners. It demands attention, attention, attention like that needy friend you sometimes want to jettison but secretly can’t imagine your days without. 

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poetry/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

When I first came to the United States, I didn’t speak English and was very slow to develop my language skills. Because of this, I constantly watched people, studied them, assumed what might be going on in their minds because I couldn’t understand what was coming out of their mouths. I’ve been doing much the same ever since, using fiction as a means of understanding people, real and imagined.  

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

I re-read J.M. Coetzee’s DISGRACE every five years or so. It’s vicious and brutal, angry but stylistically spare. I find something new to admire every time I read it and will continue going back to it until that sense of discovery ends. 

Bonus question: If you won a trip anywhere in the known, unknown, and fictional universe(s), where would you go and what would be your first item of business once you arrived?

My childhood self would want to be miniaturized and go live with THE BORROWERS for a week.

~

I could not agree more about The Borrowers.  Come out TONIGHT, April 11th at 7 pm at Charmington’s to hear Jung and our other fantastic readers share their words!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH LYNNE PRICE

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?

I never know when it’s time to sit down and do it. Often my ideas come when I’m not ready to sit or when I don’t have anything to catch it (like a pen and paper). I’m not one of those amazing people who can hold a phrase or an idea in my head without writing it down. Once it’s written down, I can keep it in my mind and ruminate on it forever and it infiltrates my whole being but if I don’t write it down immediately it’s just gone.

  1. Have you read any good books about writing, or do you stay away from such things?

I love “A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings” by Susan Rethorst. As a performer/choreographer, I love how she likens the processes of writing and dance making and how she writes with her body. This is absolutely what I do and I love seeing such an embodied approach to thinking about “making.” It’s probably not exactly what you are asking for, as it isn’t like a manual for writing but I don’t care. [insert tongue out emoji here]

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many power verbs as possible.

Writing is challenging, especially when it challenges you to challenge your own weaknesses. I am constantly challenged to find ways to challenge my readers and also to challenge myself creatively and also challenge myself intellectually… oh, you meant as many DIFFERENT power verbs as possible… oops

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poetry/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

I was raped as a child and kept that secret until is slowly started spilling out as an adult. I only shared it with my own parents and siblings two+ years ago. I spent so much of my life holding things in and even trying to deny they existed that it became my one outlet for working through the secrecy and the silence. I’ve only just started sharing my writing with others, submitting to places and reading my work aloud. It’s so empowering to write something and share it with people, and to have my thoughts and my words take up space.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

Blue Horses by Mary Oliver. At least, that is my most recently most re-read book. My mentor, Sharon Mansur, gave it to me when I graduated from grad school and everytime I go through it I find something new. Those poems are so deep and so beautiful. I cry a lot when I read it.

Bonus question: If you won a trip anywhere in the known, unknown, and fictional universe(s), where would you go and what would be your first item of business once you arrived?

These are exactly the kinds of questions that stress me out.

~

Writers & Words is a stress-free zone, don’t worry. Come out on Tuesday (this Tuesday!), April 11th at 7 pm at Charmington’s and see for yourself.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH KAYLA SMITH

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?

The worst thing about writing is the hours and hours I spend agonizing over what to write without ever actually writing one word. This makes up about 80% of what I loosely classify as “writing.” As in, if someone asks me what I’m doing today and I tell them I’m writing, I likely mean walking aimless miles with a blank stare mumbling to myself. If I put in enough hours/days of that, I can then put it on paper pretty painlessly.

  1. Have you read any good books about writing, or do you stay away from such things?

I don’t read many books that focus only on writing. (Do captivating books on the subject exist? If so, do let me know.) But I do like several essays on the subject. David Foster Wallace’s “The Nature of the Fun.” Joan Didion’s “On Keeping a Notebook.” I like teaching George Orwell’s “Why I Write.” I have not read Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir yet, but it’s on my list of things to read soon.

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many power verbs as possible.

Sometimes writing eviscerates you mentally and then hides in the corner while you compose yourself enough to approach it again. Sometimes it allows you to purge the emotions you couldn’t absolve any other way. Sometimes it organizes the emotions so you can better observe them. It’s either torturous or therapeutic.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poetry/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

I majored in fiction writing in college. I always knew I wanted to write fiction because fiction is what I’ve always loved to read. It was halfway through college when I discovered creative nonfiction and realized that there was a place in the world for the writing I’d been scribbling in notebooks, letters, and secret blogs since I was a little girl. I think I had not fully known before that personal writing counted as legitimate writing to anyone else until I read Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That” and Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I went to grad school for creative nonfiction because I realized that nonfiction felt natural and more urgent for me than fiction had. (Though I’d still love to write more fiction in the future.)

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

There are so many. All of Faulkner’s novels, because they contain this magic for me that I feel I can never, ever get enough of. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep because sometimes I feel that she conveys my thoughts better than I do. Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient because it remains one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve ever read. All of Tana French’s books because there is perhaps no one who writes psychological mysteries better and because they allow me to vicariously live my fantasy of being an undercover detective. Also the number of times I’ve read the Harry Potter series is shocking.

Bonus question: If you won a trip anywhere in the known, unknown, and fictional universe(s), where would you go and what would be your first item of business once you arrived?

This changes daily. At this moment, I want to go to Venice during Carnival. My first order of business would be to find a costume and spend a day stealing hats off of people’s heads as I walked around the city on stilts.

~

In any given room of people in any given place, I wonder how many times the collectives masses have read Harry Potter, added all up. If you have a guess, come out to Writers & Words on Tuesday, April 11th at 7pm at Charmington’s and let us know! Also, more importantly, come and hear Kayla’s wonderful words, and the rest of our April readers.