On Poetry: An Interview with David Hornibrook

Tangible Wonder Display Case,” “Night Manual,” “Pop Blasted,” “A Stand of Pine,” “North,” “Refraction,” and “Submarine” are poems by David Hornibrook published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write this these poems?

Poems come from so many different places!

“Pop Blasted!” is made up of recycled portions of an article by Randy Kennedy (originally published in the NYT), about pop culture and the space race. I wrote “Tangible Wonder Display Case” while looking at some collages by the artist and musician Robert Pollard. I finished in one sitting and had so much fun doing it. “Night Manual” started out while I was in a map library and noticed that the patterns on the marble floor were reminiscent of waves. I had a dollar in my pocket. I’m sure there was more I’m not remembering. Sand dunes form over time when a little bit of sand catches in some grass or a stone and begins to accumulate. Language does this too. Fortunately poems don’t take as long as dunes.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

I don’t really know what else to do with myself! For me, poetry is THE way to process a truly bewildering, wonderous, and frightening world.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

I absolutely love doing readings. There’s something really special about being able to partake in the energy of a group of peoplemaybe even direct that energy. Communication is everything and I think reading/performing is best when it’s an exchangethe poet is engaging the audience but also listening to the audience and responding. I also like the attention.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

Every society needs prophets, mirrors, oracles, and listeners. Artists are any and all of these things. There’s so much damage going on all the time, especially now that we’re aware of what’s happening 24 hours a day via the internet and the constant news cycle. We lose our ability to focus and truly care about anything when we’re pressured to care about everything at once. Poems help us slow down, consider things, take on new perspectives. Lots of people have said this in better ways.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

This is always the toughest questionit changes all the time. Music has been an incredible influence on my writing. I love Alice Coltrane, Robert Pollard/Guided by Voices, Neil Young. Poets that I come back to again and again include Ann Lauterbach, Laura Kasischke, Dorianne Laux, Bridget Pegeen Kelly, W.S. Merwin. I would probably give you a different list tomorrow.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as an artist?

The first poet I read was W.H. Auden. I came across his selected poems in a used bookstore and was immediately drawn to it. “September 1, 1939” is one of the first poems I loved. It was quite some time before I discovered any contemporary poets and when I did they were no longer very contemporary! Music had probably the strongest influence on my early exploration with poetry. I was listening to bands like The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazilstuff with lots of wordplay and coincidentally, quite a few references to american poetry. It was years before I realized how strongly influenced I was.

What are working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

Well, I have this manuscript I feel very good about called Night Manual. It’s travelling around a little, trying to find a good home. Most recently, I’ve been working on a project about what it might be like to live underwater crossed with a roadtrip across Michigan interspersed with psalms . . . is one way to describe it, I think? I’m in the thick of it, whatever it is.

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David Hornibrook‘s work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, SiDEKiCK LiT, Rogue Agent, Five Quarterly, The Baltimore Review, The Columbia Review, Flyway, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart Prize recipient and holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.

On “Forethought” and “Hypersurface”: An Interview with Katie Willingham

Forethought,” and “Hypersurface” are poems by Katie Willingham published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write each of these poems?

Both of these poems are about how time expands and contracts around particular emotions. Things we take for granted—stars, teeth—become powerful in the moment they refuse to hold their expected course, shifting out of control.

It wasn’t until Allison asked to publish these together, though, that I noticed these poems also have a similar turn of phrase. From “Forethought”: “I made a hole in the feeling and pushed / the fact through it” and from “Hypersurface”: “The feeling that has no end, / push a finger into it and feel the give.” At first, I thought it was embarrassing, suggesting I have only so many tricks up my sleeve, but I’m calling it out for you because I think it reveals how poetry can turn to the same imagery and activate it differently. This isn’t a shortcoming. Rather, it’s a tool, and a potent one.

It also shows I wasn’t finished processing the question this phrase articulates for me—if emotions are incredibly real but also intangible, what happens when I give them a physicality? And what might that physicality be like?

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

I’ve been talking a lot about feelings, but I fundamentally believe poetry offers a method of thinking. This isn’t to say that thinking might not be deeply emotional, but that making language of it and arranging that language fires all these mental processes for me. It gets me places intellectually I couldn’t go otherwise. The relationship between writing and thinking is incredibly fraught for many people, but my experience has been if the writing is fraught, the thinking is fraught. They’re forever intertwined. This is definitely not true to everyone’s experience, but maybe that’s why they make other kinds of art.

This reminds me—I like to ask writers if they could excel at another art what would it be? (I’m doing my own interview now, oops!) I always say dance. My body bewilders me. But of course I already have a movement practice—a particular way of walking, of pouring water from a kettle, etc.

TL;DR: A visual artist friend likes to say, “everyone can draw,” and I might add dance and write as well, but poetry has always felt like it eases my particular path.

What do you enjoy about reading or performing your work for an audience?

Sharing space, pushing energy around the room . . . Oh! And reading something I forgot was funny and hearing laughter!

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

If art functions how I described above—that it helps us think what we are unable to think by other means—then it has radical power to help imagine a better world and call it into being. This is not to suggest we are always realizing this potential, but it’s there.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

In New York, I can be blessedly inundated if I want to be. Just last week I saw a free puppetry performance, including the funny and brilliant “Daydream Tutorial” by Maiko Kikucki and the following night I saw a musician friend break a guitar pick playing beautiful songs as Bring Prudence at The Way Station.

Poems by my dear friend Adeeba Talukder have been inspiring me for some time and I can’t wait for you to also be able to enjoy her book, winner of the 2017 Kundiman Prize and forthcoming early next year.

And finally, instant gratification: check out this incredible project curated by Jane Wong!

Who was your biggest influence coming into your own as an artist?

I’m going to use this space to make a long overdue shout-out to my parents, who fed those parts of me when they were young and hungry and impressionable.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

I’m writing about the future and excited to write more about the future in the future (?!)

I adore my first book, Unlikely Designs. I poured everything I knew into it, but I’m writing different work now and I’m eager to see where it leads.

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Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press, 2017). She received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program where she also taught creative and academic writing. Her poems have found space or are forthcoming in numerous venues including Bennington Review, Kenyon Review, Poem-A-Day, The Journal, Rhino, Massachusetts Review, and Colorado Review. She has recently become the Poetry Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review and can be found most of the time in person in Brooklyn, NY and online always at http://katiewillingham.com.

On “Leafmold”: An Interview with F. Daniel Rzicznek

Six pieces from “Leafmold” are poems by F. Daniel Rzicznek published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write this series of poems?

These pieces come from “Leafmold,” a poem in 365 parts inspired by the two-way solubility of mind into world and world into mind. At the time I began “Leafmold,” I had come to feel caged by my own style and process. My poems rushed to closure, struck polite and pedestrian postures, and came out feeling like parodies of their own intentions. I wanted to try something bigger, woollier, more open-ended, and, above all, inclusive. I knew I had more to say and that my poems at the time did not provide a viable space for that speech. “Leafmold” allowed me to reimagine my relationship with the page. I remember hearing rain rolling off of tree branches after a storm had passed and being struck by the efficiency of that. That was the beginning impulse and image of “Leafmold.” I have tried to extend the poem outward from that point, and in as many directions as possible.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

Difficult to say. I started as a failed musician and then a failed painter—I say failed because I lost interest and abandoned both—but poetry came naturally to me, almost immediately. I was very lucky to have several good teachers recognize and encourage my talent. My grades sucked in college, except for my English and creative writing courses. I took that as a very clear message from the universe. Writing is a compulsion for me at this point; reading, too. I also listen to music for 4-5 hours a day, sometimes more. Art keeps me out of trouble. As for writing poetry in particular, I think I enjoy the malleability and fluidity of language combined with the invitation to song and incantation that is central to genre. I like how words sound and what they do to my mind, the images they create, the emotions they evoke, the challenges and limitations they explore/express, the messes they make. Also, there’s a certain satisfaction to writing a poem that you feel surprised by and happy to have written. I can only think of a handful (seriously, only 3 or 4) of poems I’ve written that performed this, but it’s a feeling I still chase. It keeps me coming back to my notebooks with new ideas.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

To be candid, I’ve lately felt a little disenchanted with reading for audiences. I didn’t know it until recently, but the poet Frank Stanford refused to give readings of his own work. I’m not aware of his rationale for this stance, but for me, I’m no longer sure of how well the poem comes across read aloud. Part of it is that my intention while composing is always for the work to be read quietly to one’s self. Why drag it out of its natural environment? What’s more, for me to stand in front of an audience and read the work out loud signifies a sense of ownership that has made me uncomfortable the more I dwell on it: listen to me read my poems. They’re not my poems—they’re the reader’s! The very act of reading in public props the door open for the ego to enter, and this can be bad for the work. I haven’t read my work in public for about a year and a half. It’s been a nice break, but I will be interested to try it again sooner than later, and to see if my feelings have changed.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

Poetry, specifically, is vital for me. Music, too. I won’t speak for anyone else. But I do believe Art is vital for everyone. Whether “low” or “high,” or “mainstream” or “indie,” or “cheap” or “fine,” all humans require exposure to aesthetic pleasure to be fully human. Whether they get it from the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop or a rerun of South Park doesn’t really matter. Our brains are wired for it. It’s one of our unique qualities as a species, and sets us apart from our animal kin. Yet, we are easily made afraid or threatened by art. It’s there to challenge our worst beliefs and most absurd faiths. It asks us to embrace multiplicity of meaning, and, especially in the case of poetry, to listen openly and innocently. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, so we shy away. Push and pull. Balance within this tension is vital to culture and society. I don’t think that balance is ever really achievable, but it remains something to work toward.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

I could fill pages in response to this question. My favorites are always changing. I’m a crazy music nerd, and my tastes are as wide as I can stretch them. Miles Davis and Frank Zappa would both be at the top of my list, mainly because of their consistently interesting and risk-staking outputs. Neither of them made music with pleasing the critics in mind. Someone like John Zorn would fit in as well, despite his dizzying catalog. Then you have Jerry Garcia, who was able to put his foot on a crack where four or five musical traditions all intersected: blues, folk, country, jazz, rock and roll, etc. For poets, I think James Wright and Larry Levis are my favorites. Like Miles and Zappa, these two also kept rethinking style, approach, and process, but their voices and touch are always evident in the work. Sylvia Plath has also been a very important poet for me. Jim Harrison is probably my favorite writer across all genres (he did it all), but not necessarily “the best,” if that makes sense.

Who was your biggest influence coming into your own as an artist?

I would share this between Larissa Szporluk and Amy Newman, both incredible poets under whom I had the good fortune to study with during the completion of my MFA. Larissa urged me to push my imaginative capabilities to a higher level while Amy challenged me to also weigh logic (lyrical logic!) in regard to those imaginative forays. Finding the balance between their voices led me to many years of steady writing. Also, they both, through example, taught me how to teach poetry: with patience, compassion, generosity, and incisiveness. They set the bar quite high, so I hope I’m living up to those expectations for the poets I have the privilege to instruct.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

You could say I’m currently in between projects. Writing a little bit, but mostly polishing poems written in the last few years with an aim toward two manuscripts. I also started a long poem last spring that is tentatively called “Headwater” but it’s very loose and wandering at the moment. Not sure where it will end up. I come back to it every few weeks to add a line. “Leafmold” arrived in many fevered rushes of writing. “Headwater” is sort of a sibling, but moving at a much slower and more deliberate pace than “Leafmold.” We’ll see what comes of it.

What most excites me about the future is the direction of contemporary American poetry. Lots of exciting poets writing right now, and I’m excited to keep reading.

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F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of three poetry collections, Settlers (forthcoming from Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions). He is co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in West Branch, Willow Springs, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, TYPO, Terrain, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

On Art: An Interview with Fabrice Poussin

Seven pieces of visual artwork by Fabrice Poussin were published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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Why do you write and make art, and what inspires you?

An excellent question to begin this conversation. I don’t really understand the energy, nor the passion that drives me or anyone to do so. The whole world inspires me, every moment of every day. I think in fact that it is the role of the artist, in fact his responsibility to let himself be inspired.

In what ways do you think art, poetry, and literature are vital to society today?

Shall I say in all ways? However, it is apparent, if not obvious, that this is far from being a consensus. Thus art, poetry, and literature must become more obvious, perhaps more accessible to the layperson, so he too is able to dream, to journey to the worlds which, in the end, will allow them to change the world for the better. The arts have a growing presence thankfully as we see the internet grow and give access to so many more magazines at no charge. Art is everywhere and more accessible than ever. Everyone can try his luck at art, writing, painting, and the world will decide of the work’s fate. We must continue to free the voracious minds of those who would otherwise be limited to the walls of a daily cubicle.

Who are some of your favorite artists, poets, and authors?

I have in fact many “favorite” artists. I would have to begin with the American Landscape Artists, followed by impressionist, cubists, surrealists, as well as expressionists. It is important to understand their motivations and place in the world in which they lived: Money, Van Gogh, Degas, Duchamp, Dali, Pollock. I can imagine them expanding everything they ever were to create their works. And that is what it takes to truly be an artist. As for poets, I will again not be able to do those geniuses justice. I would start with Baudelaire, Dickinson, and many great African American poets, like Hughes, McKay, and Bennett. At the top of the list will be Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Shelley, and Camus to name but a few. They created worlds we needed, when we needed them, and still make us think very deeply about who we are, and how we can change for the better.

Who was your biggest influence coming into your own as an artist?

The one who has been my greatest influence, and has encouraged me to go ahead and try my hand at publication is a friend, colleague and author of a recently published book of poetry, The Way Things Fall, Angie O’Neal. She may not be very well known yet, but she is a professor of English and has a tremendous impact on students. Many of her students have also become published authors in a short time. She is a great storyteller who continues to impress me with the apparent ease with which she tells her stories in her beautifully crafted poems. She gives confidence to everyone, and has most certainly done so for me.

What are working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

Life is what excites me the most about the future. Tomorrow, the morning, and all little things in between. I continue to write poetry and to explore the depth of our quantum physical lives through words. As for visual art, I do have two projects for the next two years. I cannot reveal too much at this  point. One involved a 13,000 mile trek across the US and the other . . . well, you will really need to wait for that one, but it will be great.

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Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review, and more than 300 other publications.

On “City Brain”: An Interview with Keith Mark Gaboury

City Brain” is a poem by Keith Mark Gaboury published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired to write this poem?

I wrote “City Brain” at a free workshop through the San Francisco Creative Writing Institute. After studying and discussing a chapter in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, the teacher challenged us to a free write exercise around what defines a city. “City Brain” is what I wrote through this literary experience.   

Why do I write poetry?

More than anything, I’ve always defined myself as a writer/poet. I remember writing poetry in elementary school and a short story in middle school that at the time I thought was amazing. It was only natural that I studied English literature/creative writing in college and graduate school. Above all, I’ve always been captivated by the hypnotic pull that a well-crafted poem has on me. I hope to capture that feeling through my own writing. From my perspective, I love how great poetry is about compression of language where emotion is squeezed within such a tight space on the page. That’s why I write. That why I read. That’s why I care to get up in the morning and feel that I have a poetic contribution to make that hasn’t already been expressed before.

In what ways do I think art and poetry are vital to society today?

In a society where demand for news and gratisfaction streams into our minds, art and poetry gives us a vital opportunity to slow down and really focus on the details. When studying a poem or a painting, at times the literary or aesthetic response does not need to be a one-sentence catch-all you can fit in your pocket. Indeed, creative expression moves beyond the obvious into the surprising, the surreal, the challenging. I believe every citizen in our society should be surprised and challenged. Art and poetry are two avenues for which the status quo can be uprooted and examined for its validity in a twenty-first century time. I love that power. Don’t you?

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Keith Mark Gaboury earned a MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. His poems have appeared in such publications as Eclectica Magazine, Fife:2:One Magazine, and New Millennium Writings. He is a preschool teacher and poet in San Francisco, California. Learn more at www.pw.org/content/keith_gaboury.

On “Metamorphosis”: An Interview with Roberta Senechal de la Roche

Metamorphosis” is a poem by Roberta Senechal de la Roche published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired you to write this poem?

No single thought or experience prompted the writing of “Metamorphosis.” Virtually all my poems come from the same places: a rage against transience and a search for the lost supernatural in a disenchanted world. “Metamorphosis” is one small leaf from the same dark tree.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

I have long been involved in photography, painting, and a bit of music in addition to writing poetry. Possibly the fact that I grew up in a family where the arts were highly valued has something to do with it. My mother was a painter and art teacher, and my father a fanatic about music of all kinds and a frustrated would-be country and Western singer. I think I just always took it for granted that making beautiful things is what one does in life.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

I think art in general—including poetry—has become unmoored from society. The literary scholar Mark Edmundson speaks to this trend, noting that much contemporary poetry is bland, unambitious, and “oblique, equivocal, painfully self-questioning…private, idiosyncratic, and withdrawn” (Harper’s Magazine, July 2013). I am struck by how much poetry today is almost entirely solipsistic.

Poetry also has become increasingly balkanized, both socially and politically. Many poets write only for those who resemble them, and turn their backs on the rest of humanity. We have journals and prizes open only to women, just to take one example. Their offerings supposedly speak in “women’s voices” to other women. Other venues reward writers who express “resistance” to this or that political “outrage.” Poets and poetry editors have so valorized social identities and their struggles that, as Edmundson notes, it now takes a bit of courage merely to use the words “we” or “our.”

Who, then, will write for the ages? Who now speaks for the shared human plight? Surely a few do, but where is their following? How many average Americans could name a single living poet?

What poetry reminds us that we are free? What poetry takes us to the wide river of human experience? What poetry enables us—as my resurrection-colored line in “Metamorphasis” suggests—to “make it green again”—to hope for some transcendent experience? I am drawn to John Keats’ statement: “The excellence of every art is its intensity.” I believe that art at its best still has the power to awaken us, to move us with “a thing of beauty.”

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

As for poets, I would mention Keats, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Charles Wright. Some of the writers I return to again and again are Lady Nijo, Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor. As for music, I have always liked virtually all of the Victorian classical composers, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Tim Buckley, and Muddy Waters. My favorite filmmaker is still David Lean, but I also admire Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Darren Aronofsky. Finally, I like the paintings of Winslow Homer, Salvador Dali, Paul Delvaux, and Odd Nerdrum.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as an artist?

I was trained in history and never took so much as a single course in literature or creative writing. I have also published quite a bit of sociology. And I think my ongoing interest in history and sociology has been essential in guiding me to meaningful subjects beyond myself. But I am really not comfortable talking about any one person or subject that has influenced me. I experience myself as responding to the power of reality and my own yearning to see behind what Captain Ahab in Moby Dick called the “pasteboard masks” of all visible objects.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

I am finishing my first full-length volume of poetry, presently entitled Going Fast. Going forward, the possibility that my writing will evolve further is the most exciting prospect.

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Roberta Senechal de la Roche is an American historian and poet of Micmac and French Canadian descent from Maine who teaches history at Washington and Lee University. Her poems have appeared in the Colorado ReviewStill: The Journal, Yemassee, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. Blind Flowers won the 2016 Arcadia Press Chapbook Prize, and her chapbook Winter Light, is forthcoming from David Robert Press.

On “A Passing Phase”: An Interview with Joseph Moore

A Passing Phase” is a short story by Joseph Moore published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired you to write this story?

This story came in fragments, without any semblance of narrative structure. I had the idea that I wanted to explore infatuation and limerence, as well as the inner consciousness of the clinically anxious. The middle of the story was written while I held a lovely sinecure, which afforded me ample time to write between emails. The other portions were written in bars and at home. It wasn’t until midway through that I had the sense to piece them together.

Why do you make art, and why write fiction in particular?

I like to think of artistic creation as a sort of ritualistic purging. If I don’t write, it feels as if a dam is building within, brimming with thoughts and ideas and anxieties and all manner of conflicting opinions. Writing wasn’t my first or even second choice as far as a means of expression—music and film were how I coped when I was younger—but with everything else, I felt like I was working against physical and social barriers. I wasn’t very dexterous with my hands, and I wasn’t a socialite who was in touch with my emotions. As I got older, I found myself tangled up in words and thoughts, and writing seemed to clear those away for a brief period. For a brief period, I tried my hand at the journalism thing, but unless you’re a cultural critic, the industry doesn’t exactly reward thought-provoking writing, just information or opinions. I’m not quite sure why I write fiction in particular. Things just seemed to turn out that way. Any attempt of mine at writing memoir or creative non-fiction eventually ends up as fiction. I guess it’s how my mind makes sense of the world.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as a writer?

David Foster Wallace is an obvious one, but his influence is a kind of double-edged sword, as many other authors have noted. His style is so grandiose (I think Mary Karr likened his prose to a show of fireworks) that any sort of imitation of his work immediately comes across as amateur. Truman Capote, Jonathan Franzen, John Barth, Saul Bellow, Tony Tulathimutte, and Alice Munro all played a huge role in shaping my sensibilities as a writer.

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Joseph R. Moore is a SUNY Purchase Acting BFA dropout who eventually graduated with a B.A. in Literature/Writing at the University of California, San Diego. His work has largely been in poetry, fiction, and cultural criticism, with verse and prose in online journals such as Bright Lights Film Journal, Switchback, Flatbush Review, and The Magnitizdat Literary. He currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is working on a forthcoming novel.

 

On “Canadian Occasional (150)”: An Interview with Brandon Marlon

Canadian Occasional (150)” is a poem by Brandon Marlon published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired you to write this poem?

2017 marks Canada’s sesquicentennial, occasioning this occasional poem.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

Artists are impelled to express and communicate; it’s an innate urge. I write in several writing genres. Poetry permits me to lyricize a statement with blessed brevity.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

Poetry recitals reveal whether the reactions of others to your words (and to the thoughts and imagery they convey) mirror your own subjective sentiments.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

Art is a key indicator of the vitality of any given society, today as ever. Artistic creation is a primordial human endeavor, a form of attempting to imitate the divine.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

Kings David and Solomon of Israel, Homer, Ferdowsi, Solomon ibn Gavirol, Judah HaLevi, Moses ibn Ezra, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Hafiz, William Shakespeare.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

I’m continually developing my thoughts regarding the subject matter for my upcoming writings, whether poetic, dramatic, filmic, or prosaic in nature. Quality writing is a function of quality thinking.

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Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 200+ publications in 27 countries. www.brandonmarlon.com.

An Interview with 2017 Green House Poetry Prize Winner Mike Zhai

Love Poem” (winner of the 2017 Green House Poetry Prize), Bart to SFLunch Poem 6/23/14, and Dawn are poems by Mike Zhai published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired you to write this poem?

I am interested in how the past lives within the present, the dead within the living, the unseen within the seen. In love one does not know who it is that loves; one is no longer oneself in some way, but more than oneself. Perhaps it is our dead ancestors who love through us, who choose whom we love, and teach us all the right and wrong ways to love them. I like to write about moments that connect our contemporary experience with the most ancient experiences of human beings, about the liminal moments between sleeping and waking, the surface and the deep.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience? 

I am a rather unimaginative reader of my own work, and don’t particularly enjoy reading it for an audience. I enjoy reading others’ poems more, and would rather someone else perform my work. I think performance is an art in itself, separate from writing poems, and maybe that’s why I usually enjoy having my work read by someone else. It introduces a fresh perspective and brings a new aspect to the poem.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

Ross Gay, Laura Kasischke, Eileen Myles, Anne Carson, Yi Lu, Duo Duo, D.H. Lawrence, Rainer Maria Rilke, Charles Baudelaire, Marina Tsvetaeva, Li Po, Du Fu, Eileen Chang, Virginia Woolf, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Lo Ka-Ping.

What are working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

I am working on a book of translations from Li Po. I hope I live a long time and my writing keeps changing.

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Mike Zhai was born in Shanghai and grew up on the West Coast of the United States. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is the founder and facilitator of One Pause Poetry Salon.

On “Inquiry”: An Interview with Adrianna Sage O’Brien

Inquiry” is a poem by Adrianna Sage O’Brien published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).

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What inspired you to write this poem?

Before writing this poem I had aimed to challenge myself to write something short, concise, yet full of mystery and possibility. I tend to write longer, more descriptive poems, so this was both fun and difficult. I had also wanted to juxtapose yet interrelate the external and the internal: objective description and personal relatability. I did this by starting with a more abstract and palpable illustration and then ending with a simple, intimate moment. I was also thinking about how to describe the inner self and feelings through tangible objects, materials, and senses.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

The act of writing poetry is both an outlet for my often chaotic emotions and the way in which I make the internal external: it allows me to relate and project my inner experience onto the tangible, observable reality. Thus, it helps me think, release my inner tensions, challenge myself, and interpret the world. Reading poetry has also had a profound affect on me: I love how it makes me see things in new ways, often more beautifully. I hope that my poetry can do this to readers.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

I’ve been told that my poetry is so inherently “me” and that a lot of the emotionality of it comes out in my inflections and countenance while reading. I like to think that reading my poetry aloud helps to convey its meaning to the audience more easily. Furthermore, a lot of my poetry relies on and focuses on the beauty of pace and sound; I play a lot with alliteration, assonance, and rhythm, some of which is lost when not read aloud.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

My favorite poets and authors are Maggie Nelson, Wallace Stevens, Toni Morrison, Tom Robbins, and Dvid Foster Wallace. I’m often inspired by surrealist or psychological films as well as striking cinematography and attention to lighting. My favorite filmmakers are Wong Kar-wai, David Lynch, Dario Argento, and Maya Deren.

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A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Adrianna Sage O’Brien is new to the publishing world. Her poetry is full of obsessions of light, images, and filmic language. Her work focuses on the senses, bodies, and their place in the natural world. Through these meaningful and visceral connections between the senses and nature, she aims to break the barrier between bodies and their environment.

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