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

Sweet Fiction: Q&A with Rebecca Emanuelsen

Today’s brief Q&A is with Rebecca Emanuelsen, a contributor of fiction to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Her story “Fred the Fish” was our first acceptance of fiction, and also inspired the goldfish cover for SW#001.

Rebecca Emanuelsen lives, works, and writes in Michigan. As much as she likes pointing out locations on her hand and calling soda “pop,” she dreams of moving to a place where the sidewalk will never be coated in an inch-thick layer of ice. Her stories have appeared in Shimmer, Parcel, Fractured West, and elsewhere.

a little taste of “Fred the Fish,” her short fiction:

Fred the fish likes bloodworms and all the flakes except the green ones. Hannah picks those ones out, then sprinkles in a handful of everything else. Her portly little goldfish bobs in the water, gulping down food particles until his stomach begins to swell, only relenting in his feeding frenzy when morsels begin to float back up out of his mouth like smokers’ exhalations. The remnants of his meal eventually drift down to settle on the bottom of the bowl, creating a light film like dirty snow. They blanket the neon pebbles and the small castle that Hannah purchased with spare change scraped up from under couch cushions and inside cup holders.

“Thanks, doll,” Fred says, patting his bulging belly with a fin.

“No problem,” Hannah replies as she pops a piece of bubblegum into her mouth. “But I’m a real girl, not a doll.”

SW: What are you currently reading?
RE: I’m currently reading about fourteen textbooks a week because I’m working as a proofreader over the summer.
I’m also reading Nelly Reifler’s short story collection, See Through.

SW: What are you working on now?
RE: Short stories with various magical elements as well as an urban fantasy novel.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
RE: Howl’s Moving Castle and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones are two of my very favorite books. I really appreciate DWJ’s world-building abilities and her treatment of young characters. She was a fantastic writer.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
RE: On long walks and in conversations with my best friend, Nichole “Prite” Mercado, who has kindly drawn a number of my characters over the decade that we’ve known each other.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
RE: I have a weird, spotty schedule when it comes to writing. Sometimes I don’t write for several weeks. Sometimes I crank out a 6,000-word story in two days. Either way, my process usually involves thinking about something for at least a week (often much longer) and then researching various elements for a few days before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’m generally not a “write every day” writer, and that’s fine because my current process works for me, though only for short stories. When I want to actually make progress on my novel, I have to commit to a more regular (preferably daily) schedule.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
RE: So many things. I go through periods of intense interest in various subjects. Chambered nautiluses, accordion music, and abandoned towns are three things I’ve been focusing on lately.

Rebecca Emanuelsen | blog | SW#001

Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Caitlin Neely

Today’s brief Q&A is with Caitlin Neely, a contributor to two issues of Sugared Water. She published three poems with us including “Grace Hour,” “This is Use,” and “The Interior Part.” (She later joined our staff as an editorial assistant.)

Caitlin Neely will be an MFA poetry candidate at the University of Virginia in the fall. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University where she was the editor for Loch Norse Magazine. She is an editorial assistant for Sugared Water and a first year blogger for The MFA Years.

a little taste of “Grace Hour” (in our inaugural issue):

I tell landscape like it is.
A deer’s gray coat—dull lantern dusk,
the hills—knot of honeysuckles.

I turn it inside out. I sharpen the edge.

and “The Interior Part” from our second issue:

I take a spot on the sofa, watch the squirrel
in the backyard, the tire swing.

Is waiting dangerous?

The woods crack; March scatters.
Mayflies hang on buds.

Noon time shower,
boom of the weather man’s voice.

(A holler in a holler.)
(The small sin of wanting.)

I wake, scrape the winter off;
my body looser than it’s been in years.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CN: Right now I’m reading Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire and Middlemarch.

SW: What are you working on now?
CN: I’m working on revising poetry I wrote for my capstone last year. I’m also writing new stuff that’s focused on the body and, of course, nature too. No matter how hard I try I can’t get away from nature imagery.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CN: Mary Ann Samyn is definitely the poet who’s inspired me the most. Also Beth Bachmann, Nathaniel Perry, Sylvia Plath, Kelly Moffett, Ida Stewart, and Brenda Hillman.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CN: Everywhere! Language is my main inspiration so words I pick up from books, television, conversations, etc. are normally the starting off point/inspiration for my poems.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CN: I try to remain as “in the moment” as possible during a rough draft. I don’t like over-thinking lines or deciding where I’m going to go next before going there. A lot of my process comes from what I’ve learned taking improv classes. Once I’m revising I’ll work through the title, the language, the line endings, the emotional narrative, and anything else that needs clarifying. I rarely keep copies of the revisions I make for a poem. I like to “forget” where I’ve come from (in regard to the words, not the emotion behind them) unless I’m really having trouble choosing between two different versions of a line or phrase.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CN: I’m very obsessed with baseball right now. I’m also obsessed with dance and ballet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Center Stage and First Position. I danced for a good part of my childhood. It’s something I’ve kept close to me even after I quit.

Caitlin Neely | Blog | @caitlinneely | in issues SW#001 & SW#002