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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Myth+Magic Special Edition: Call for Submission: July 15 through August 25, 2014

Sugared Water is seeking works inspired by myth and magic for a special limited edition. We’re seeking works that update old classics, perhaps moving a mythic character into the modern world, or personal pieces. If Hades owned a bookshop in downtown Chicago, what would a visit be like? We’ll also consider trickster stories and fables. Choose a pantheon or people and give us your take. Tall tales welcome.

We will read for this issue until it is full (no more than 56 pages), accepting work as it strikes us. Give us evocative, descriptive language. Spin and enchant us.

We’re fans of literary work and genre, so feel free to blend the two, or step to one side or the other.

Poetry • Fiction • Creative Nonfiction • Comics & Sequential Art • Art

Some topics you might consider:
Magic gardens, tricksters, witchcraft & herbalism, magic realism, origin stories, retelling of myths about gods and monsters, divination & fortune telling, gods in the modern world.

We’ll consider creative nonfiction as long as it touches on some relationship with myth or magic, or perhaps an affection for oral narratives within your own family—you could tell us how fantastical figures have influenced your development as a writer. Personal essays welcome.

  • Fiction & CNF should follow standard manuscript format. We’ll consider micro forms and short forms up to 4,500 words.
  • Art & Comics: No more than 5 .JPGs/pages at a time, please. We already have a cover, so we’re looking for internal art. High contrast black & white pieces work best.
  • Poetry: submit all poems in one .doc, .docx, or .rtf. No more than five poems per submission. Please format your works in 12 point Times New Roman or Garamond font.

Include a cover letter with brief 3rd person bio (no more than 50 words, no more than 5 previous publications listed), and contact information. Anything else you tell us is strictly up to you, but we’d love to know what you’re reading or what inspires you.

Payment: 1 (one) contributor copy of the resulting limited edition, handbound & numbered issue.

We may wish to archive a few pieces on our website, but we will always ask your approval first.

We accept submissions made via Submittable.

If you’re a Duotrope user, you can report your submission there as well.

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Paul David Adkins

Today’s brief Q&A is with Paul David Adkins, a poetical contributor to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.

a little taste of “Romancing Christin Garren’s Among the Monarchs in Iraq Despite Central Command’s General Order 1,” his poem:

The order states No Drinking No Drugs No
Gambling No Converting the Afghans to Christ

No Bringing a Girl to your Room No Mailing Home
a Weapon or Live Spiders No Sex with Anyone
not Your Wife No Destroying or Stealing
National Treasures

Polled, you answer

Yes Yes No Yes
Yes Definitely No Maybe No

It’s hard
to figure you out.

SW: What are you currently reading?
PDA: I just finished reading Sally Rosen Kindred’s Book of Asters, Natalie Diaz’ My Brother was an Aztec, and Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, and I am revisiting Carolyn Forche’s The Angel of History, as well as the work of Robin Behn.

SW: What are you working on now?
PDA: I am attempting to finalize a manuscript entitled La Dona La Llorona, a series of poems addressing the Mexican diaspora as seen through the eyes of a murderous, legendary ghost.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
PDA: I often return to Edgar Lee Masters, Weldon Kees, Gregory Orr, and Amiri Baraka, and particularly enjoy current authors Rachel Contreni Flynn, Rebecca Dunham, Christine Garren, and Cate Marvin.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
PDA: I use my memory primarily for inspiration:  stories or books I heard years ago often earn my attention.  Musically, the work of Throwing Muses, Einstuezende Neubauten, The Residents, and The Birthday Party hold special sway.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
PDA: I tend to let an idea germinate regarding a poem, then find a quiet time to write it on a word document.  I usually revise as I write, and often will google or research terms or phrases which I need while composing the piece.  I will write until I feel I have a work about 80-90% complete, then return to revise until I feel it is sufficiently polished.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
PDA: I am currently obsessed with WWI German U-Boats, and have written a book on the submarines, both WWI and II, entitled U.  I am also preparing, I think, to explore the harrowing confines and horrors of the Bangladesh garment industry.

Paul David Adkins | website | @koenigsburg14 | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Loretta Diane Walker

Today’s brief Q&A is with Loretta Diane Walker, a poetical contributor to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Loretta Diane Walker is a multiple Pushcart nominee and an award winning poet. She has published two collections of poetry. Walker’s work has appeared in a number of publications. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award (1st World Publishing Press, 2011).  She teaches music at Reagan Magnet School in Odessa, Texas.  Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

a little taste of “Lifting Mama,” her poem in SW#001:

I wake with Mama singing; I love the morning.
Love. A word tossed around so much
it has dark circles around its eyes.
I love my socks, fingernails, the way ants follow a soul
from Carver Street to French Place.
Love is a little purple gnome
sitting on the dashboard of an old Chevrolet pick- up.
The seasons’ erratic nails scratch years
of flakey rusted dandruff on its hood.

I am fully awake now. I get to change my mind
and this resentment I have towards the sun.
Love is my sister’s arms around mother’s back.
With an ulcer eating her stomach, she says to Mom,
“Put your arms around my neck, Mama. On the count of
three.”

SW: What are you currently reading?
LDW: I am currently reading a novel entitled Yoga of the Impossible by my mentor, Diane Frank.  I am also reading  a book of poetry entitled The Wine-Dark House by Rustin Larson.

SW: What are you working on now?
LDW: I am working on a collection entitled In This House.  This collection encompasses poems about the journey my family embarked upon two years ago with my mother becoming a bi-lateral amputee and also poems about my journey towards recovery.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 25, 2013.  These poems depict my struggles and resolutions with having cancer, enduring chemotherapy and radiation.  I just completed treatment in May of 2014.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
LDW: Since my diagnosis in July, I have been inspired greatly by the Texas 2010 Poet Laureate, Karla K. Morton. Her book Redefining Beauty is about her journey with breast cancer. I have also revisited the works of Naomi Shiab Nye, Mary Oliver, Jane Hirshfield, Mary Karr, and Diane Frank.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
LDW: I seek inspiration from snippets of life. I am inspired by grocery baskets scattered in Walmart’s parking lot, a bird with a broken wing kicking against cement, children laughing on the playground, people waiting at a bus stop. I truly believe life is a poem waiting to be written.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
LDW: I have a “ten/one” rule. This means I read at least ten poems (from an anthology or by one poet) before I start writing. Usually a word or a phrase will jump start my creative juices.  I like to write while I am in a restaurant .  The background chatter keeps me centered.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
LDW: I am obsessed with Words with Friends, Zumba, Free Cell and the television show The Property Brothers.

Loretta Diane Walker | SW#001

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