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Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman has been at this for years, producing books and spaces and relationships between writers and artists. Some of the answers cover things you know, and some might just surprise you. We threw Leah a few curve balls here because we knew that she would rise to the challenge and we knew that she would bring her independent spirit to the process and we weren’t disappointed. Interviewed by Lynn Alexander, for Full Of Crow, December 2012. 

LA: I’m sure many people want to know, in your words: Why do you want to be part of the small press?

Leah: It’s cliché to say it feels like family, but the small press is this all-encompassing entity that functions like its own little village.  It has the town criers, the town gossip hens, the angry, the depressed, the incarcerated, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I can open a small-press publication and read a fresh, new author right alongside 94-year-old poet laureate Ed Galing, and it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.  The playing field is leveled; the authors are all different and quirky—but eternally grateful; and, while a lot of the writing is daring, all of it is honest because the writers don’t hide behind extensive contracts, big paychecks, and high expectations.  They are self-aware and write for the love of it, knowing they may never make a buck. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 7 months ago.

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Michael Grover

  Michael Grover is a Toledo-based poet, activist, and editor. He is the head poetry editor at Red Fez and author of the recently released chapbook “American Eyes”, which I just finished reading prior to this interview. It’s a great collection of poems, and I find Michael’s unapologetic attitude about political poetry to be refreshing and bold. He is willing to write what he sees, and say what he thinks. He seemed like a good choice to kick off the new series here at PRATE. -Lynn Alexander

LA: Tell us about what you are doing right now: your poetry, new books, upcoming projects, editing roles, reading series- tell us a little bit about where you are at right now.
MDG: I have a new book coming out sometime next year on Tainted Coffee Press called “A Shotgun Does The Trick”. I’m really proud of that. It’s my first book. I have a new chapbook coming out on CFDL press in February. It’s called “Some People Go Crazy”. It’s about a bad relationship I recently went through. The woman just drowned in her problems literally. There was nothing I could do. I’ve got a huge poem that I’ve been working on for three years now. It’s called “Confessions Of An american Outlaw”. It’s up to number two eighty something right now. I really do feel that is my best and most defining work. Once the book comes out, I plan on looking into getting that published as a whole. It’s just the Poem that never ends. It will follow me to the grave.
As far as editing goes, I am the current head Poetry editor of Red Fez. I have been for over two years now. A couple of months ago my friend Matt and I were lamenting at his kitchen table the death of yet another print Poetry zine. I used to do a punk zine, so I told him we could do a print zine ourselves. That night Mixolydian Blues was born. Matt came up with the name. It has something to do with the Beatles. I don’t know, I hate The Beatles. Always have. I just let him name it. We are having a launch for that at the open mic at The Black Kite in January.
Which brings me to the reading series at The Black Kite. Pretty much I had been hosting readings here at the Collingwood Arts Center for four years and that changed. Suddenly I was on the outside politically and no one would tell me why. It was a tough time, I had put everything into this place. Suddenly then from out of nowhere, this coffee shop opens up right on the corner in this ghetto assed neighborhood that has nothing but churches. It was actually a really cool coffee shop. It was like a sign that it should be my next move. So I talked to the owner about doing a reading once a month. She was not crazy about the idea but said we could try it out. By the end of the first reading she was begging to do it twice a month. So now I host an open mic on the first Monday, and features and an open mic on the third. It’s going great. We have our first out of state feature coming in February, it’s Michele McDannold. She was in town for one night and we went there that morning for breakfast and she decided she had to feature there. She fell in love with the place, which is not hard to do. The reading is evolving. Last night we streamed it on U-Stream for the first time. It’s exciting and Toledo needs the culture. Continue Reading…

Posted 4 years, 7 months ago.

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John Swain, From 2011

This was one of my favorite interviews with one of my favorite people, poet John Swain. This is a repost from a year ago, before I met him in person, before I could really call him a friend, when all I really knew was the work. I loved his poems then, and love them even more now. -Lynn Alexander

LA: When did you first call yourself a poet, or describe yourself this way? How did it feel, using the term applied to what you do?

JS: The appellation, “Poet,” is to me an honorific, much in the same manner as a title or an esteemed degree, earned through, as you have said before, “the service of words.”   While for as long as I can remember I held an inward sense of myself as a poet or rather one who creates or transforms, I could not coronate myself like a tyrant.  The term only held legitimacy once it was bestowed by another in recognition of the quality of the work itself and not any mysterious quality in me as a person.  Therefore, I struggled toward the name “Poet” like a mask to inhabit.  The process is long and full of pain and loneliness and doubt and it still continues.  It is also the greatest joy, a dream I strive to live in and maintain and overcome so as to keep discovery anew. Continue Reading…

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago.

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Robert Masterson

Robert Masterson is a poet and teacher, and we are happy to present his interview here at PRATE.


1. Do you think that a formal education in the arts – i.e. Poetics, Literature- is important for an aspiring writer? What do you think a prospective student gains from an academic experience?

 

This question has bothered me for a long time. Prior to World War II and for even some years after, if one expressed interest in becoming a writer, the last advice in the world would have been to go to school. Writers need something to write about, experiences that will be of interest to a reader and, honestly, there isn’t much of that in college. Instead, aspiring writers sought out experience by joining the navy, becoming a lumberjack, hitchhiking across Peru, working as a bouncer in a whorehouse, and just about anything other than sitting around brooding about term papers and midterm exams. Continue Reading…

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago.

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John Swain

John Swain is the author of several books of poetry, most recently “Handing The Cask” from UK based erbacce press. You can order it here.

LA: When did you first call yourself a poet, or describe yourself this way? How did it feel, using the term applied to what you do?

JS: The appellation, “Poet,” is to me an honorific, much in the same manner as a title or an esteemed degree, earned through, as you have said before, “the service of words.”   While for as long as I can remember I held an inward sense of myself as a poet or rather one who creates or transforms, I could not coronate myself like a tyrant.  The term only held legitimacy once it was bestowed by another in recognition of the quality of the work itself and not any mysterious quality in me as a person.  Therefore, I struggled toward the name “Poet” like a mask to inhabit.  The process is long and full of pain and loneliness and doubt and it still continues.  It is also the greatest joy, a dream I strive to live in and maintain and overcome so as to keep discovery anew.

LA: What would you say about how much of your identity it comprises? I know you as a poet, but there is much to know about John Swain, “creator.” What are your other interests, and what might you be interested in exploring in the future? What else are you anxious to try, if anything?

JS: My totality.  While I tend to compartmentalize my life and I believe each individual is necessarily comprised of several, even infinite, aspects, these are part of a unified mind-soul-and-body consciousness that flows in and through each other ultimately toward the expression of reinvention and fulfillment.  There are many varied points along the way to be investigated, broad as the scope of human experience.  Poetry cannot be conceptualized in the economics of Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago.

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Robert Chrysler

Robert ChryslerRobert Chrysler is an inspired subway-ranter from Toronto, Canada. He enjoys challenging capitalist property relations, trying to figure out what the post-structuralists are going on about, and dreams of someday living in a tree. Interviewed by Lynn Alexander for PRATE.

LA: What’s constant? In other words, is there anything that seems consistent for you right now?

RC: Unfortunately, the only constant in my life is my continued marginalization, living on the fringes of society. I used to think that I could still at some point work hard and fight my way back towards some degree of normalcy or the everyday domestication that most people experience. I don’t any longer. I am too old to spend my time at menial, backbreaking labour that leaves me with no time or energy to pursue the things that really mean anything to me and never get me ahead anyway. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably be destitute and homeless, living in shelters and whatnot, for the rest of my days. I plan on making the best of it, however. Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago.

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Felino A. Soriano

Felino A. Soriano is the author of a number of poetry collections, and the editor of Counterexample Poetics. Interviewed by Lynn Alexander.

Felino A. SorianoLA: You say that ‘philosophy’s vast history and rich language enhances the mind’s ability to articulate and think critically’.  You connect this to your practice of writing poetry. Do you mean in the sense of process, or the ways by which elements are incorporated into the construction of the poem?

FAS: The construction of a poem I am writing is never predetermined in the facet of existential idea, nor from the vantage point of isolated symmetry, meaning the connected balance between idea and language.  Philosophically, my endeavor is to examine surroundings, objects, colors, sounds, etc., through the metaphysical aspirations of ascertaining what is not readily seen.  This practice is performed through a conscious and concentrated effort into writing without the use of cliché.  When approaching a poem as I do life [existentially], the philosophy of the self is determined to promote the poem through critically thinking about what is in direct line with natural observation.  Observation is imperative; as is interpretation.  These realities must be in abundance when writing a poem, but too, can predict one’s life within the spectrum of success, when implementing these skills within a practical method.  Beyond the multitude of poetic metaphors available for say, a cliché subject as the sun, the authentic poet can write about this cliché, but unveil it to a reader as if it is a neoteric idea.  This is my intention, my scheme while writing a poem regardless of subject matter.    Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago.

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Richard Wink

Richard WinkUK poet, publisher, and freelance writer Richard Wink just finished a new poetry collection, Dead End Road, featuring over fifty poems, published by BeWrite. Gloom Cupboard is still going strong in it’s second year, and it seemed like a good time to pester him for some candor on the state of poetry, small press, and what we can expect from him next. Interviewed by Lynn Alexander.

Your new poetry collection will be available as both a print edition and an “ebook”. What factored into that decision, and do you see potential in the electronic media format?

I’m very much a traditionalist; I prefer the touch and feel of a book. I prefer to read from the page. I guess there wasn’t really a decision as such because I believe BeWrite are simply moving with the times and offering books in both formats.

The ‘ebook’ however has its advantages, both in terms of speed and immediacy, and I think very much that poetry suits the electronic format. At the moment ‘we’ (the worldwide poetry community) are still tinkering, trying to strike the right balance between the traditional and the future. I think there is room for both, in the same way that vinyl exists alongside digital music files, paperbacks can coexist with ebooks. Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 11 months ago.

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Lenore Weiss

Lenore WeissPaul Corman-Roberts on Lenore Weiss: Bay Area poet, essayist, fiction editor at The November 3rd Club. She is the author of “Sh’ma Yis’rael” published by Pudding House, and has an extensive list of publication credits both online and off with her most recent work in “Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal,” and in “Women in Judaism” from Canada. Lenore also produced “The CellPhone Poems” with composer Paul Kirk and she is currently working on a collection of “Tkhine,” modeled on prayers by Jewish women, which were first published in 1648. She serves as Web Master for a transit company and as the chair of the political action committee of AFSCME Local 3916.

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Posted 7 years, 11 months ago.

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Dan Provost

Dan Provost is a writer and coach from Worcester, MA. He could very well be one of the nicest men you will ever meet. He is a man unafraid to wear the rawest parts of himself on his sleeve for everyone to see, touch, and experience. He is no stranger to the darkness in himself that most of us so often deny.

Dan is an avid reader who has been publishing in the small press for years, always supporting new writers through reading and promotion and lending his hard earned wisdom. It is my pleasure to share with you this candid interview with Dan Provost.

-Aleathia Drehmer

AD:  You grew up in a household heavily laced with music and athletics.  How do you think this has affected your outlook on the world as a child and as an adult?  Do you think these things influence your writing and if they do, in what way?

Dan ProvostDP: Being exposed to such a variety of music gave me an opportunity to experience different genres.  My grandfather and father were both jazz drummers; they introduced me to George Shearing, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa.  My brothers, Chip and Tim, were influenced by rock and blues, while my sister Judi, who played the organ and piano–played everything from classical to the Allman Brothers.  For me, the lyric content was always the most fascinating and relevant.  What was the writer of the lyrics trying to portray and how did he say it?  Was he indignant, sly, and boastful?  I always admired those who could sing in a way that could relate to the theme of the song.  Even today, great lyricists heavily influence my writing.  Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years ago.

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