Archive for October, 2009

Featured Poet A J Odasso interviewed.

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Tell us about your poems.
For me, the question of style is eminently maddening! I’ve been told that, broadly, from poem to poem, it would be difficult to tell that they were all by me if my name were to be stripped away. That said, I think that I can discern stylistic currents amongst certain of my most frequent subjects. For instance, many of my more confessional pieces tend to deal with memories from my tomboy childhood in rural Pennsylvania or memories of my family in general. The voice in these pieces is (I was once memorably told) a strange combination of lyrical, frank, and unnerving.

I also tend to draw on my academic interests for inspiration; you’ll often find me making allusions to medieval poetry or the matter of handling old, fragile books and manuscripts. Folktales, myths, and music also figure prominently in my more speculative and fantastical pieces. I’m fond of rescuing and recasting lost stories, and you’ll frequently find me taking on ‘non-traditional’ sexuality and gender issues. Lost books and lost voices often go hand in hand. I traffic in archetypes, but with a twist.

How long have you been writing?
Compared do most of my writer-colleagues, I seem to have started quite late. Where you’ll hear many writers say that they’ve been at it ever since they first learned to string letters together into words, and words into sentences, I’ve only been at it since the age of 13 or 14 (I learned to read and write around the age of 3 or 4). For the longest time, I seemed to think that the visual arts were my calling in life; I drew and painted competently. However, when I reached my early teens, I realized that my art wasn’t really improving or progressing. So, I thought, well - what’s left to me? I’ve always had a good voice, and I loved singing, but I needed an outlet through which I could create raw content (I’m no virtuoso pianist or composer). Writing it was. And, in the long run, my love of writing was the reason I dropped out of music school to major in English instead. A career in academia with writing on the side is what I’ve chosen, but if the writing should ever take center stage, I won’t complain!

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
Quite a number, although I should stress that this doesn’t mean I’m famous. I’ve been in quite a few magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K.; a full list of my credits is available online, for the truly bored or curious. My e-chapbook through Gold Wake Press, Dead Zones, is also available on the web, and my first print chapbook, Devil’s Road Down, is currently available from Maverick Duck Press. My first full collection, Lost Books, will be available from Flipped Eye Publishing in April 2010. 2009 has been an incredibly good year. “Snap,” one of the poems from Dead Zones, is up for the Pushcart Prize anthology, and I’ve been nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net awards.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Although I’m thrilled about Lost Books, which I mentioned above, I’m actually more proud of one of my single-poem publications in a U.S. magazine earlier this year. Mythic Delirium is regarded as one of the best speculative/SF/F publications out there, and a year and a half after submitting, I was told by the editor, Mike Allen, that he’d be accepting my poem, “Journeying,” for the special tenth-anniversary issue (#20, which came out in May). I was thrilled about this for two reasons:
1) I had written “Journeying” in late 2004, as a sort of creative place-holder for the novel I one day intend to write. At the time, I was still an undergraduate at Wellesley, and I’d been accepted by Frank Bidart to take his 300-level poetry course, which at the time I thought was a big deal. Since “Journeying” had been through a few drafts before I ever took it to class, I thought it’d work well in my final-project portfolio. As it turned out, Frank praised every piece in my portfolio except for this one - he called it pseudo-medieval something-or-other, which, at the time, really stung. I was proud of the piece, and, back when I was young[er] and [more] rash, there was nothing like telling me I’ve been a bad judge of my own writing to make me determined to prove that all the work I put in was worth it.
2) Mythic Delirium is a well-respected publication, Mike Allen is an absolutely fantastic editor, and a new poem from Neil Gaiman also appeared in Issue 20. A geeky writer’s dream, really!

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing about writing poetry is the incredible people you meet. In my experience, poetry draws like minds to like. It can also draw opposing minds together, which is great, too - debate is right and necessary. A colleague recently sent me a bumper sticker that says POETRY SAVES LIVES. In either case, I agree with that statement; it probably saved mine. During the years I was primarily writing to and for myself, I was able to hold off the barrage of uncertainties and maintain a sense of self.
The worst thing about writing poetry is the inevitable down-time, the blank spaces between poems. However, it’s from those spaces that we carve new work, so how can it be all bad?

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Be bold. Ask questions. Read insatiably. Know who you are.
(And if you don’t know who you are just yet, you’ll discover it in the writing.)

Who/what influences your poetry?
William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and Louise Glück were the first poets to make me really sit up and pay attention to verse, although I wouldn’t say my style has been directly influenced by any one of them in particular. I’ve been told my work stylistically resembles Carol Ann Duffy’s, which I find sort of amusing, because my style was pretty set by the time I discovered her work (only two years ago). Jorie Graham, James Nash, and Mark Doty are also on my list of favorites. Sharon Olds. The Gawain-Poet. Any poet whose work reflects a profound sense of wonder and discovery even in the face of loss.
All of my work, whether fiction or poetry, is ultimately indebted to the stories my grandmother told me. Without the wealth of her words, my creative world would have been a poorer place.

Split Vision

Turn the tables or the corner. Smoke rises
from my upturned hands and stings my eyes

with this beginning, for I cannot learn
from what was. So I will chase them through

the Shadows of the Valley of Death, these lies
resembling love, and then I will find them

though all Hell should rise to meet me
in the trying. Read in these pages the blue

of the evening. I have left it behind me,
and the stars be my diamonds now, distant

cold pulses of flame in an instant
unwinding—

and the tables burned.

Want to see your poems featured here? Drop me a line to claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Photo by Kayleesea)

Don’t forget The One Night Stanzas Store, my Etsy store, and their little sister, Edinburgh Vintage!

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More from this week’s Featured Poet A J Odasso

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

You can see yesterday’s poem, Nine Things Oracles Do, here. Interview tomorrow — in the meantime, enjoy!

Amnesiac

We set sail from Amsterdam Harbor sometime
in September, or it might have been August—

I can’t remember. These signs, images,
and floaty sea-birds begin to blur

into fearful, restless oblivion.
Sharper still is the sheer dizziness

of steep, winding stairs deep in the heart
of that ageless brick haven: free-standing

wonder mortared with memory and loss
sifted from the whispering canals,

which I skirted with weary steps on stone
that could not take the weight of our dreaming.

Want to see your poems featured here? Drop me a line to claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Photo by Jaap de Wit)

Don’t forget The One Night Stanzas Store, my Etsy store, and their little sister, Edinburgh Vintage!

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This week’s Featured Poet is A J Odasso

Friday, October 9th, 2009

A J. Odasso is currently completing her Ph.D. in English at the University of York. Her poetry has appeared in a number of publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including Strong Verse, Aesthetica, Sybil’s Garage, Succour, Farrago’s Wainscot, The Liberal, Mythic Delirium, Under the Radar, and Ouroboros Review - with new work forthcoming in Illumen, Not One of Us, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Drollerie Press and Hadley Rille Books, and her first print chapbook of poetry was published in September 2009 by Maverick Duck Press. Her first book-length collection, Lost Books, will be published by Flipped Eye Press in early 2010. One of the poems from her e-chapbook from Gold Wake Press, Dead Zones, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Nine Things Oracles Do

1.

Sit on bedside tables. Persephone
watches over me as I sleep,
and the alabaster jar beside her
says nothing.

2.

Hide in drawers. My tarot deck
sleeps beneath cotton knickers
and never bothers to yawn
when daylight enters.

(Lazy git.)

3.

Lurk on hard drives. Patti Smith
and PJ Harvey drag me under,
over and over. Horses
and ether.

4.

Sit in bowls. Corn Mother
is patient between feedings,
but Raven, little trickster,
loudly sings.

5.

Weave carpets, although I do not
know the name of the man in the market
who sold this blue-and-rose beauty
to my mother-in-law.

6.

Tell stories. My bulletin board
can show you what I looked like
at twenty. It also knows several
addresses that I forget.

(It’s always right.)

7.

Oversleep. My flatmate
doesn’t rise until noon,
but you’ll smell her kitchen miracles
very soon.

8.

Give kisses. My husband
never wakes me, and he’s gone
before I know it. But that kiss
will always tell me
what he meant.

9.

Give advice. I am on call
24/7 if you need me,
even digitally,
and all I ask of you
is a cup of tea.

(Discount price.)

Want to see your poems featured here? Drop me a line to claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Image supplied by Steve “PodcastSteve” Lubetkin)

Don’t forget The One Night Stanzas Store, my Etsy store, and their little sister, Edinburgh Vintage!

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Procrastination Station #56

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Sorry I’m late this weekend! Very topsy turvy week… better late than never!

First, an update on my Etsy empire!: There’s a sale on at Edinburgh Vintage with many very cool items considerably reduced! I also just started up my own line of handmade accessories, CustomisEd. Check out the Halloween stuff I posted recently! // For those of you who don’t know, I also recently set up a spin-off to Edinburgh Vintage, a store called Quilt of Dreams which carries vintage fabrics, buttons, trimmings and embellishments for dressmakers, quilters and crafters. Check it out! // & the Read This Press store is business as usual… Skin Deep is almost totally sold out now so grab yourself a copy on the double!

Rediscovering poetry // Poem of the week // & another // I heart Byron // Reviewing the work of friends // 10 most challenged books in the USA // 10 of the UK’s best second hand bookstores (I’ve only been to two! I sense a roadtrip coming on…)

Visit the Moleskinerie (thanks Beth!)

Ever wonder what Jay-Z’s favourite books are?

I love the Rejectionist.

Photos from the Scottish Poetry Library’s By Leaves We Live Fair (including some terrifying ones of me), and a write up!

I now follow Margaret Atwood on Twitter!

Billy Collins & Charles Bukowski

Literary threads (thanks Regina!)

Found online this week: A sweet haiku by former Featured Poet Juliet Wilson // Matt Haigh at 13 Myna Birds and Pomegranate // Gareth Trew is Poet in Residence at Poet’s Letter Magazine // New work from Alex Williamson // I love this poem from Howie Good at Bolts of Silk // & Angela Maiers gave me a mention!

Cool stuff at qarrtsiluni

Rarely seen Banksy

Grouped by Colour & OH MY GOODNESS treehouse glee!

Very cool typography…

…& some more type-related stuff.

Urban decay // Abandoned Churches // Chernobyl Today // Chernobyl Journal (all via)

London Tattoo Con parts 1 and 2

The Christmas list starts here

This is cool.

& finally… Boy & I are thinking of getting one of these! Thoughts…?

Have a good week, all!

(Photo by boopsie.daisy)

Don’t forget The One Night Stanzas Store, my Etsy store, and their little sister, Edinburgh Vintage!

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