Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Wendy Creekmore

Today’s Q&A is with Wendy Creekmore, a contributor of poetry to issues #001 & #002 of Sugared Water.

Wendy Creekmore holds a M.A. in Integrative Studies from Northern Kentucky University. She has a library of paper slips with writing straight from her thoughts. Her work has appeared in Sugared Water #001 and #002, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, and collaborative work published in Stone Telling, as well as a collaborative chapbook forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in late 2014.

a little taste of “This Place Turned Headstonefrom SW#002:

Like dust hung heavy
in lungs
and veins of wiped out Blue Gem coal.

Fiddle songs sing
let it die, let it die

I ache to slice the plum liver of this town
ballad for those one breath short
of outrunning a-foot-a-night vine.

SW: What are you currently reading?
WC: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, and sweet water by Christina Baker Kline.

SW: What are you working on now?
WC: No big projects at the moment. I am constantly writing, but it usually comes in spurts. This often leaves me with pieces (of writing), this and that; most of it I hope to put together in some way, someday.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
WC: Oh, an array of folks and their work—Dorothy Allison, Sherman Alexie, Barbara Kingsolver, Jack Kerouac, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Ken Kesey, Audre Lorde, Howard Zinn, Natasha Trethewey, Allen Ginsburg, Zora Neale Hurston, Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs, Toni Morrison, Pablo Naruda and I could go on …

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
WC: Funny thing about inspiration for me, it often comes out of nowhere. I’ll be driving and there it is—by the roadside, an idea, a memory—a string of words that come out in a conversation. I’ve looked for inspiration before, but never found it to be a magical as the kind that comes freely and serendipitously.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
WC: Everything I write starts as bits of paper everywhere, partial files on my Mac, or notes on my iPhone, iPad—where ever I can get it written down or typed into permanently before it’s gone forever. That’s the easy part. Part One of the real work is in organizing the thoughts, and scribbling, into something that needs to be bigger and go further. I have to let things simmer before getting to the other hard part, which for me is editing. The final product never feels final, but eventually I have to take a deep breath and push ‘send.’

SW: With what are you obsessed?
WC: Travel. And holding onto my free spirit. Luckily, the two go together pretty well. I don’t write a lot when I travel; however, when I’ve been able to visit some wonderful new places, far, far away and I can always see in hindsight that the clutter has been cleared and the writing flows effortlessly—often into some pretty damn good stuff.

Wendy Creekmore  | SW#001 | SW#002

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Heck yeah, we’re reading again!

Sugared Water seeks submissions for issue #004. (And possibly one or two to finish out the pages of #003.)

SW is an independent lit mag published & handbound in Cincinnati, OH. Our cover art is original and produced in limited edition (240 or fewer, usually around 150). We read poetry & prose, with a particular interest in flash and micro forms, lyric and personal essays, prose poetry, free verse poetry, and individual, strong senses of voice and place. We will consider 3-5 poems or up to 4,500 words in fiction of creative nonfiction.

You can see more on our current issues here: http://sugaredwatermagazine.wordpress.com/issues/
And our complete guidelines here: http://sugaredwatermagazine.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/

We read via Submittable and are listed at Duotrope.

Poetry: 3-5 poems, free verse or modern forms preferred (broken sonnets, modern American haiku, for example).
Fiction: up to 4,500 words with a preference for flash & micro forms.
Creative Nonfiction: up to 4,500 words. We like personal essay, lyric essay, character sketches, lists, pieces written in the form of something else, letters. Show us something true and wonderfully messy, or lyric and pristine. Just show us who you are.

We’re also interested in comics, sequential art, mixed media art, art in general, and graphic narratives including illustrated lists, sketchbook pages, photos with handwritten words overtop, and any manner of eye candy.

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Christen Leppla

Today’s Q&A is with Christen Leppla, a contributor of poetry to issues #001 and #002 of Sugared Water.

Christen Leppla currently lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Originally from Cincinnati, OH, she traveled to Lake Superior to write, teach, and study as a Poetry/Fiction MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University.  Christen lives with her dog, Dr. Watson, who spends most of his time sleeping while she works on her first novel-length project.  Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly, Sugared Water, and East Coast Literary Review.

a little taste of “Some Kind of Reflectionfrom SW#001:

There are trees that grow up from my toes
with millions of rings in their trunks, I am sure.
If I could pull them through my heels like splinters,
I would pull apart my muscle and reach between the folds,
snap my bones like an apple tree limb
and touch the pith, the part that is soft,
if only to know it for myself.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CL: Right now I’m reading Tampa by Alissa Nutting. I just moved to a new apartment, and this novel is the reason my boxes are still unpacked.

SW: What are you working on now?
CL: I’m working on a novel set in Southwest Ohio, a region that crosses over into what is technically Appalachia. I’m playing with what it means to be part of an Appalachian community, but also resistant to and separate from Appalachian culture. It’ll be the first novel I’ll have seen to completion and I’m excited, scared, irritated, and hopeful about the book—all of the normal emotions that hit a writer in the middle of a novel project, I think. I’m also working on getting a chapbook together, pulling poetry I’ve written over the last couple years and writing new poems that I hope will find their way in.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CL: Too many to name them all. I’m always inspired by what I read in some way, whether it’s the way a poet breaks a line, the way a writer pulls me in to sit in the space of a sentence, or a character that makes me feel something unexpected. I recently read Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, and it did all of those things for me. Ever since I read Beloved as an undergrad, Toni Morrison has been at the top of the list.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CL: Everyday things. The other day I was at the airport and an older man sitting alone took out a package of peanut M&Ms and dumped the whole thing into his shirt pocket. He then proceeded to pick them out one by one and ate them while he waited for his plane. Right away, I knew I would write about that man and his M&Ms.

I read a lot.

I also try to be a sponge around writers who know more than I do. Being in a MFA program has put me in a place where I’m surrounded by talented people who have incredible ideas and are accomplishing ambitious goals. They’ve been a huge source of inspiration for me over the past year. They push me to take risks and imagine more for my writing.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CL: It’s funny, I have always tried to force a process on myself. I used to think, “Writers always wake up and write in the early hours of the morning,” or, “if I’m going to be a writer, I need to write every singe day without exception.” Once I stopped forcing myself to adhere to someone else’s process, I wrote more. I don’t write everyday, though I try to do revision or research on days I don’t write. Reading is also part of my process, whether that be nonfiction as research or something that achieves a technique I’m striving for in my own writing. I spend more time revising a piece than I do writing the first draft. When I think I’m finished with something, I put it away for a while so I can get some distance and be more objective during my final read-through. That said, I try to be open to my process changing. What works for this project may not work for the next.  I’m okay with that. Maintaining schedules has never been something I’m good at.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CL: My dog, Dr. Watson, and coffee bags. They’re like tea bags, but with coffee! One of the greatest inventions of our time.

Christen Leppla | SW#001 | SW#002

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Yim Tan Wong

Today’s Q&A is with Yim Tan Wong, a contributor of poetry to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Yim Tan Wong holds an MFA from Hollins University and is a Kundiman Emerging Asian American Poets Fellow. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from over thirty print and online journals, including The Cortland Review, Little Patuxent Review, Tahoma Literary Review, A capella Zoo, Phoebe, RATTLE, and Crab Orchard Review.

a little taste of “Angelfishfrom SW#001:

Do they believe the world
undulates beyond artificial
vegetation, fins, and algae?
Do they trust bite-sized food
drifts from a Greater Above?

Ahoy from Upper Here,
I say, and tap the glass.
Fogging their view,
I introduce myself, as
God, water, weather.

SW: What are you currently reading?
YTW: I recently finished reading Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard (University of Akron Press, 2010), a brilliant and very personal poetry collection, written in a flurry after he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and just as he was on the verge of fatherhood.  These are his most personal poems yet, and I admire how much of himself he gifts to the page as he reflects upon boyhood, growing up in a small Oregon town, emerging from surgery, and becoming a parent.  Next on the docket: 1) Both Flesh and Not (Hamish Hamilton, 2012), a collection of David Foster Wallace essays; 2) Richard Hoffman’s poetry collection, Emblem (Barrow Street Press, 2011); and Letters Between Friends (Abrams, 1994), letters between painter René Magritte and his confidant, friend, and attorney, Harry Torczyner.

SW: What are you working on now?
YTW: I patiently await a publisher to pick up my first full-length poetry manuscript, which has been a finalist for Four Way Books’ Levis Prize and the Alice James Books/Kundiman Poetry Prize.  Meanwhile, I have three other manuscripts in progress, and the bulk of my energy goes into what I refer to as “Book 2,” which interacts with the paintings and language philosophy of René Magritte, the work of logician Ludwig Wittgenstein, the pessimist philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, and the troublesome views of the irate but at times quite lucid and brilliant Friedrich Nietzsche.  Interest in their world views stems from my attempt to comprehend the level of violence that humans inflict upon one other, timeless cycles of rage and oppression, and although I know there are so many factors (psychological, social, economic, political, and the list goes on) which can lead to violent acts, I have this great hope that if language could be perfected to translate sufficiently one’s sense of injustice, disappointments, fears and needs, that physical and weapon-driven aggression would diminish.  I know this simplifies a complex matter, but we must start somewhere.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
YTW: My favorite writers are actually fiction writers: namely, Salman Rushdie, for his literary and historical erudition, his love of language and fanciful play with words, his quick wit, and his ability to convey his love of storytelling and respect for the permanent connections made between parent and child when stories are shared, as conveyed in his book Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  Also, I adore F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The Great Gatsby moves at such an elegant clip, and not a word is out of place or used frivolously.  Must add to the list: Tao Lin–for his brazenness.

As for poets who rank high in a long list of admired poets: Anne Sexton; Walt Whitman; Christian Hawkey; Ai; Matthew Zapruder, Thomas Lux; Natasha Trethewey; Wendy Xu; Tomaž Šalamun; Jee Leong Koh; Tamiko Beyer; Tony Hoagland; Franz Wright…I could go on for quite a while!

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
YTW: From observation, listening, and discovering connections between seemingly disparate things. Music, lots music, from The Velvet Underground to techno to Philip Glass.  Paintings, photographs, and installation art. Contemporary artists on radar: Tara Donovan; Kara Walker; Tessa Farmer; Cindy Sherman; and Shepard Fairey.  Lots of films, too, since I am a highly visual person.  The writers/directors who engage my imagination most are David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, and Jean-Luc Godard; and the films I can watch over and over are Diva, La Jetée, Metropolis, and Eraserhead.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
YTW: Just sit down and do it, stand up, pace, or start thinking and see where those thoughts and language intersect.  Oftentimes, if I cannot generate a new poem, I either read (prose, poetry, newspapers, etc.) or tinker with a piece that is undergoing revision, and that usually leads to new ideas and eventually a new poem.  To make writing happen, I take action, but seldom wait for inspiration.  You have to chase it.  Sometimes, as I am reading a book or listening to an album, I will start composing new work, or get an idea about how to edit a piece that is under revision.  The trigger does not necessarily even have to have anything to do with the idea generated, which is rather fascinating.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
YTW: Running and spinning.  Regular exercise is such a wonderful way to develop discipline, and this will hopefully affect one’s writing regimen as well as fortify the spirit against what every writer must deal with and accept: obstacles, rejection, failure, and the requisite development of the ability to work repeatedly, single-mindedly, and vigorously toward a goal.

Yim Tan Wong | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Victor David Sandiego

Today’s Q&A is with Victor David Sandiego, a contributor of genre to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Victor David Sandiego lives in the high desert of central México where he writes, studies, and plays drums with jazz combos and in musical / poetry collaborations. His work appears in various journals (Cerise Press, Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge Review, Off The Coast, Generations Literary Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sugared Water [ of course], others) and has been featured on public radio. He is the founder and current editor of Subprimal Poetry Art. His website is victordavid.com.

a little taste of “Advice from My Fatherfrom SW#001:

The fork approaches his mouth, a wet nest
of birds
tumbles to the plate.

I start to wonder if a reunion was a good idea.
My father seems an odd stranger.

SW: What are you currently reading?
VDS: Lately, I’ve been returning to books that I’ve read before. I just finished reading Dear Judas by Robison Jeffers for the 6th or 7th time. It continues to fascinate me with its language and rhythm. I read various works of Jorge Borges in both English and Spanish. And I’ve started The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz for the second time.

SW: What are you working on now?
VDS: I recently completed a manuscript entitled The Desert Gardens. That is to say, I reached the end. I still need to revise it, but I’ll let it sit for a while first. Meanwhile, I’ve started my next project, a series of pieces about Guanajuato, the city in central Mexico where I live. I also continue to work on getting various pieces or manuscripts published.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
VDS: Since I was a child, I’ve been an avid reader. There’s been so many works and authors that have reached into me that it would be impossible for me to list them all. The mysticism of Carlos Castaneda attracted me at a young age and has stayed with me since. I’ve been influenced by Jorge Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, María Baranda, Isaac Asimov, Dante, Kahil Gibran, Homer, Jose Saramago, and (for a while at least) Charles Bukowski.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
VDS: I don’t exactly go looking for inspiration. I try to live my life so that it finds me. Sometimes it finds me when I wake up in the morning or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Sometimes it finds me when I walk through the city. I’m an observant person and things get mashed away in my mind for a later re-telling. But because I have visual and sensory dyslexia, things don’t always come out in the same way they went in.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
VDS: I frequently begin with an odd bit of thought, a line or an image. I don’t usually know where they come from but I have learned to recognize the door that is being opened for me, but not necessarily by me. So I just go through the door and follow what I find there to wherever it leads.

At every juncture I look for ways to see beyond the obvious to what lies beneath. For instance, a person who is afraid of dogs doesn’t just see a dog and feel afraid. That’s too easy. Instead they may see a whole painful future reflected from a painful past spilling from his saliva. Everything can be peeled back, including the things I have already peeled back. My desire is to keep probing as deeply as I can.

Much of my work in the last several years has involved writing an entire manuscript. That is, I set out to connect a series of words into a series of pieces that are a conscious part of a whole volume. And in one case at least, the volumes themselves are part of a larger whole. The five volumes of my poetry pentology explore and commemorate a journey that begins with physical depravation in Africa and continues in an expanding sphere that passes through modern life in the Americas into a reawakened mysticism.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
VDS: If one reads a lot of my more recent work, they might conclude that I’m obsessed with death. But I’m not really. I’m more concerned with leaving something behind that will help make the world a better place. Ideas are communicable and I would like to help spread a few. I’m obsessed with the idea of the human race shaping their ways of thinking and being, ways that don’t automatically assume conflict and fear. I’d like more people to see themselves as citizens of the world and stay away from any form of nationalism.

Bibliography:

I have two books available right now and others in the works.

 The Strange & Beautiful Life of Daniel Raskovich
An imagined biography of an odd everyman character, darkly funny and strangely poignant. A frank take on contemporary society. That’s what the publisher wrote anyway. I think Daniel is fun.

 39 Boys on the Ground
Volume 1 of the pentology mentioned above. 39 interwoven snapshots depicting the darkly humorous, insightful, surreal and brutally honest worlds of boys as they climb from the hollows of their youth into the world of men.

The easiest way to get more info on these is on my books page: http://victordavid.com/books

Victor David Sandiego | web | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Kate LaDew

Today’s Q&A is with Kate LaDew, a contributor of poetry to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in Studio Arts,  She lives in Graham, North Carolina with her cat, Charlie Chaplin.  Kate is currently working on her first collection of poems, I Am Not Beautiful.

a little taste of “I’m Afraid of the Way Your Voice Changes When You Talk About Himfrom SW#001:

the little tremble of warmth and hurt and exhaustion
I never see your eyes, your hands work against them
kneading the lashes as if you could make your face a smooth plane
with nothing to give away what’s inside

SW: What are you currently reading?
KL: I am reading John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, a novel I always meant to read in high school.  It’s really devastated me.  I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a book across a room before.

SW: What are you working on now?
KL: I am putting together a book of poetry and a short story collection (possibly called Lying About Mustaches).

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
KL: I have been reading a lot of George Saunders stories.  I love how disarmingly funny and sad they can be.  It’s a combination that doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does brilliantly.  “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room” is one of my favorites.  He has definitely influenced my style of writing.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
KL: My ideas just come from everyday life.  It might just be a phrase I overhear that develops into a two or three pages.  I feel like you should be able to tell a complete story that involves the reader and ends before their attention has, so I’m not sure I could ever write a complete novel without becoming bored with it myself.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
KL: I am obsessed with silent films at the moment.  It seems like so much more was required of actors as they only had their facial expressions to tell the story.  I don’t think you could ever make films like that now because the audience would feel like they were somehow missing out on something if there was no dialogue.  I think of the end of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights,  That simple intertitle ‘You can see now?’ ‘Yes, I can see now,’ and the Tramp’s shy little smile is probably the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen (and only seen).

Kate LaDew | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with P. Andrew Miller

Today’s Q&A is with P. Andrew Miller, a contributor of prose poetry to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

P. Andrew Miller is a writer of lots of different things like short stories, poems, lyric essays, reference articles, etc. He is coordinator of creative writing at Northern Kentucky University.

a little taste of “A Poem About My Father” from SW#001:

 Perhaps I should write a poem about my father and his rabbits that he raised in a complex of cages and coops (that used to have chickens too but most of those were gone before I had to take my turn at taking care of them) up on the hill behind our house and how he raised them for food, almost two hundred of them and how he would go up each Thursday because that was garbage day and pick out the ones that were ready to be butchered, and bring them down to the house and hang them up by their back legs in little leather loops hanging from the ceiling and they would squeal as the big butcher knife sliced into their throats and the blood spurted on to the paper spread underneath and how he would strip the skin off, take out the guts, then cut the paws off and throw the rabbits on ice to take to the man who bought them from him and sold them at his store in the city but I hated the rabbits and having to haul gallon buckets of water and food up the hill, especially in the rain or the snow and I couldn’t kill them though sometimes I watched and I liked going with him to the man’s house who bought them because he and his wife were nice to me.

SW: What are you currently reading?
PAM: A backlog of comic books I didn’t have time to read during the last school year.

SW: What are you working on now?
PAM: A collaborative novel, a short story, and editing a poetry chapbook.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
PAM: Neil Gaiman, Flannery O’Conner, and Terry Pratchett.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
PAM: Mindless activities like grass cutting. :)

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
PAM: A lot of my wiring process happens away from the keyboard. I have an idea, maybe even a plot. I usually wind up with a problem that needs to be solved. I mull that over, sometimes for days, while I do other things. Usually, I get a “eureka” moment then on where to take the story and can sit down and write it from there.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
PAM: Well, it was original comic art of eBay, but I managed to break that addiction for the present. :)

Bibliography:

Bodies in Water, a prose chapbook (Porkbelly Press)
In Love, In Water, and Other Stories (forthcoming from Post Mortem Press in 2014)

P. Andrew Miller | web | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Lauren Gordon

Today’s Q&A is with Lauren Gordon, a contributor of poetry to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Lauren Gordon is the Pushcart Prize nominated author of Meaningful Fingers (Finishing Line Press) and Keen (horse less press). Her work has appeared with Sugar House Review, burntdistrict, Coldfront Magazine, Rain Taxi, Smoking Glue Gun and Poetry Crush. She lives outside of Milwaukee.

a little taste of “I’m Building a New Spinefrom SW#001:

out of Himalayan salt;
luminescent pink vertebrae
an unfathomed history.

In this life, I will move with meaning,
move with ferrite light,
I am an Alaskan sky,

SW: What are you currently reading?
LGChange Machine by Bruce Covey and What is a Domicile by Joanna Penn Cooper.   Glowing recommendations all around—very lovely and well-crafted poetry. I’m also reading 123 Magic because my toddler has reached the very special age of two.

SW: What are you working on now?
LG: Right now I am working on organizing and revising a full-length manuscript of poems and also sending out chapbook manuscripts, and another full-length ms to publish. There must be a publisher somewhere interested in Little House on the Prairie persona poems, right?

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
LG: Louise Gluck’s Wild Iris – I read it while I was in the middle of going through a divorce and it changed my world. What Is Found There by Adrienne Rich is another book I constantly re-read. Mary Oliver’s The Leaf and the Cloud is what I read when I feel uncertain. Martha Zweig’s Vinegar Bone has had a much more profound impact on me since becoming a mother. Francesca Bell is another poet who always knocks the wind out of me.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
LG: I love this question for the word “seek” because “finding inspiration” is a misnomer. Poetry is work whether the muse shows up or not. I mostly seek inspiration from reading or working with a prompt, but I love being Facebook friends with presses and poets, because someone is always pointing to a poem and yelling “read this!” And I have learned to take better notes, because I can’t trust my brain to remember anything.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
LG: Before I was a mother, I had a very regular writing routine and was naively self-indulgent about my time and my writing. Now I seem to write in bursts and then spend months editing, revising, and workshopping. One of the chapbook manuscripts I am sending out right now (On My Legs, My Heart, My Liver) was written in two days, which is insane. I’ve never done that before. I sat down to write a poem about marriage and addiction, and it became torrential. I also like the torture of NaPoWriMo in April. I work best with deadlines and structure.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
LG: Small presses and publishing. Checking Duotrope manically. Keeping the chipmunks out of my potted plants. With the temporary feeling of being alive. Tactility. The books I read as a kid. Dispelling the notion that poetry isn’t work. Oh, and whole pineapples. I’ve been buying one every week and perfecting my cutting technique.

Lauren Gordon | web | @clevernameetc SW#001

Bibliography:

Poetry Chapbooks: Meaningful Fingers (Finishing Line Press), Keen (Horse Less Press)

Poetry Antho: Knocking at the Door (Write Bloody Publishing)

Lit Mag: burntdistrict volume 3 issue 1,  2 poems

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Sweet Fiction: Q&A with Carol Guess

Today’s Q&A is with Carol Guess, contributor of fiction (co-author Kelly Magee)  to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Their collaborative piece is titled “The Storm Grower.”

Carol Guess is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered and Doll Studies: Forensics. Forthcoming books include How to Feel Confident With Your Special Talents (poems co-written with Daniela Olszewska) and With Animal (stories co-written with Kelly Magee). She teaches at Western Washington University, and keeps a blog here: www.carolguess.blogspot.com.

a little taste of “The Storm Grower” from SW#001:

The garden is in the backyard. Hurricane, tornado, blizzard. Betty grows them in rows, strung up on the fence with twine. People come to her with their demands, and she gives them shoots and cuttings and bulbs: a hurricane eye in a Styrofoam cup. “Keep it moist,” she tells them, or, “Plenty of light.” They walk from her house carefully, down the front porch steps cradling weather. They use the storms for insurance claims, to get rid of unsightly properties, to deal with termite problems or annoying neighbors. “Watch the size on this one,” she says of a super cell in a glass dome. “Could get out of control.”

They come to her with needs and cash, and she sends them away with solutions.

One day a child rings the bell.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CG: I’m focused on legal cases and journalism aimed at freeing nonhuman animals from captivity.

SW: What are you working on now?
CG: I just started a new poetry collection about a woman in an eating disorder treatment center.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CG: Too many to list! But current favorites include Allison Benis White, Shane McCrae, and Richard Siken.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CG: Often from visual art, especially photography and painting.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CG: Writing gives me pleasure. It’s not a struggle; it’s the joy in my day. As a prolific writer, it’s important to me not to write the same book twice. I’m constantly seeking new subject matter, new forms, and new ways of collaborating with other artists. I like to feel challenged and pushed.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CG: Nonhuman animals, including my four domestic companion animals and the wild birds living in the trees around my house. I’m also obsessed with seeking freedom for animals in inhumane captivity, and would love to find creative, artistic ways to contribute to this movement. Ideas welcome!

Carol Guess | blog | SW#001

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Sweet CNF: Q&A with Sara Walters

Today’s brief Q&A is with Sara Walters, a contributor of creative nonfiction to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Her piece, “Kept,” was our first acceptance of CNF for the magazine.

Sara is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of South Florida, where she also teaches. She has a dachshund named Weasley and writes a lot of essays about dead people and pretty girls. She is still anxiously awaiting the arrival of her Hogwarts letter.

a little taste of “Kept” from SW#001:

No matter how much I search my closets, tear apart the boxes in my garage labeled with my name, dig into the drawers of my dresser, and overturn the bookshelves in my room, I will never find anything of Kevin’s.

I will not find a borrowed sweatshirt, draped over my shoulders at a football game in late October while we watched my brother play. I won’t find a necklace, a ring, a bracelet that had once hung from his neck, fit snugly on his finger, cuffed his wrist. I won’t find any wrinkled notebook paper with his barely readable print, promising in graphite and eraser dust that I was the only girl he ever loved… [...]

There are no pieces of him for me to hold onto.

SW: What are you currently reading?
Sara W.:  I’m reading a lot of young adult lit. I love writers like Sarah Dessen, John Green, David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn. As far as nonfiction goes, I really loved reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water.

SW: What are you working on now?
Sara W: This summer, I’ve started working on what I hope will become my MFA thesis. It’s a weird, disjointed, screwed up look at my shitty experiences in the world of relationships and sexuality, and although that sounds really overdone, I’m hoping my take on things will not necessarily be “new” or anything, but just extremely accessible and easy for a lot of women and men in my generation to connect with.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
Sara W: Truthfully, the writers I work with here in my MFA program at the University of South Florida never cease to supply me with endless inspiration. This is such an incredible group of human beings. They’re all so perfectly weird, and both broken and whole all at once. They are always reminding me with their writing and their companionship that this world is not the black hole of impending and inevitable oblivion that it often feels like.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
Sara W: People. Places. Things. Nouns, in general.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
Sara W:  It generally starts with a lot of self-loathing, and ends similarly. Somewhere in between, I write some words that sound at least okay, and then I take those semi-okay words to my mentor, Ira Sukrungruang. He tells me what words are better than okay and how to make the less okay ones more okay. I send them out to magazines. Sometimes, amazing publications like Sugared Water pick them up and publish them, and I feel a very strange and beautiful ache in my heart knowing that I just gave away pieces of myself to perfect strangers. I only hope that my okay words make those who read them feel a similar strange and beautiful ache.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
Sara W: My dog, Weasley. Chapstick. Instagram. Alysha Nett. Tattoos. Obscene shades of nail polish. Hypothetical situations.

Sara Walters | website | SW#001

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