Interview with Amy O. Woodbury

” Amy Woodbury is a connoisseur of abstraction, an artist who unflinchingly exposes fierce secrets and restless dreams– all with a deft precision. Here, we cross over into a plane that moves with uncanny ease from the physical to abstract. Stroke after stroke scorches with unnamed longing, melodic stillness. This art, this surreal entity, is a deeply reflective meditation of modern wanderlust, yearning, and enigma. As a former modern dancer, Woodbury paints in much the same way as she danced–with daring, elegance, and a wondrous verve.”

-Maggie Lu, Visual Art Editor 


Inklette: How do you think your 22 years of artistic background in dancing/choreography influence your visual artwork? What was the catalyst in your transition from dance to artwork?

Amy: i consider my dance background to be my visual art training. to me, there are many similarities between composing a dance and composing a painting in that both art forms address improvisation, lyricism, space, line, texture, scale, abstraction and narrative. and with my figurative work, i often feel as though i’m still choreographing, still inventing movement. i love that!

throughout my dancing career, i would simultaneously be drawing and painting something, whether it be on costumes, on set pieces, on the walls of our home, on paper. the christmas after i retired, my husband gave me canvases and paints and that was that – i haven’t looked back.  

the-snails-on-the-thorn1

“The Snail’s on the Thorn,” 30″ X 40″, Acrylic on Canvas. ©Amy O. Woodbury

Inklette: I love your painting “The Snail’s on the Thorn”; can you speak about your composition and inspirations for that one specifically?

Amy: thank you. i am very pleased with how she turned out. it’s a romantic piece with a romantic ending (regarding its sale). 

the line, “all’s right with the world”, from robert browning’s verse poem, pippa passes, kept running through my head as i was making this. i love birds, the whole of the animal kingdom, and i love english literature and old books too, and i wanted to create a peaceful and harmonious world, where things were “right”, to quote mr. browning. when the foreground  figures were complete, i added the miniature chorus behind them, gave the earth an organic striation and the sky a crunchy texture. the palette was a guiding force, too.

Inklette:  Do you ever find moments of artist’s block? If so, how do you regain momentum?

Amy: i do and when it happens, i remind myself of the children i know and how fearless they are when they’re making art, “oh, i’ll just do this and add this and make this happen because i want to”. the judgement and editorializing go out the window, they’re free. i also have a mantra, “move off the spot”. just go. and even if what i throw down isn’t very good, it’s a start, it’s movement – have i mentioned that word before?

unnamed

“Yin Yin,” 18″ X 24″, Acrylic and water color pencil on canvas. ©Amy O. Woodbury

Inklette: As an Illinois native, how do you find your work influenced by your upbringing and surroundings?

Amy: i was born in a quintessentially midwestern small town, mendota, and i have sweet memories of walking out our back door into cornfields and sky. there is variety to the landscape here. and there is a plethora of green and water and four very real, very distinct seasons. all of which makes for rich fodder for my work. i also live part time in southern utah, but illinois stays with me; oftentimes i will paint an illinois-infused piece while i’m in utah. so i take my roots with me wherever i go. i like that.

Inklette: Which artists or pieces of artwork did you find yourself drawn to in your formative years?

Amy: as a choreographer, henri matisse; he was a massive presence. i created an evening-length work, “ ode to a wild beast”,  based on several of his paper cut-outs. years later, working with paper and constructing collages, i felt i was channeling him all over again. 

but before the paper pieces, in my formative years, i was drawn to asian art: scroll paintings, woodblock prints, the “floating world”, kanji symbols, etc., which led me to purchase the tale of the bamboo cutter with superb illustrations by masayuki miyata. that little book fed me for several years – long enough that people thought i was asian. simultaneously, i loved poring through my grandmother’s art history books and selecting portraits of medieval madonnas for inspiration- icons by the likes of carlo crivelli, fra filippo lippi, piero della francesca. and i painted them on 4’x4’ sheets of masonite –  they were very primitive but a whole lot of fun to make.

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“Michigan,” 36″ X 48 “, Acrylic on canvas.   ©Amy O. Woodbury

Inklette: Finally, I’d love to hear about your current exhibition at cafe selmarie in Chicago. How were you attracted to the venue? What sort of materials and inspirations did you draw on for your pieces “yin yin” and “michigan”?

Amy: i’m good friends with the owners; in fact, one was a dance colleague of mine. i enjoy showing there because of its lay-out, the generous wall space, the palette and the fact that the cafe’s clientele includes art collectors – i owe a lot to cafe selmarie in terms of my own client base. my current show, 20 strong, is a good example of the many different things i love to paint/draw: “yin yin” is a re-inventing of an older portrait that i felt wasn’t working so i flipped it upside down and there she was. she has a tinge of the surreal and with the two-female-portraits-in-one, i titled her “yin yin”. “michigan” is, once again, a manifestation of my love affair with the midwest; every summer we head north to the upper peninsula of michigan, on the southern shore of lake superior. aptly named. 


studio portrait

Photo Credit: Richard Woodbury

A former dancer and choreographer, AMY O. WOODBURY has been a visual artist for twenty years. Mostly self-taught, Ms. Woodbury works in acrylic and mixed media, painting and drawing a variety of things: fantasy figures within dense detritus-laden terrains, portraits of imagined women, abstract expanses of water and land. What motivates her? Movement, memories, intuition, color, randomness, thinking outside the stretched canvas. Born and raised in Illinois, Amy makes art in Chicago and Boulder, Utah. Exhibits include: Judy A. Saslow Gallery, the Goodman Theatre (scenic elements), the Evanston Public Library, permanent collection, the Evanston Art Center, GenesisMke, Cafe Selmarie, the Burr Trail Outpost, and her Annual Front Yard Art Sale, an anticipated Evanston event.

Interview with Talin Tahajian

“As a poet, there are certain milestones you can mark, vague and blurry as they are, about writers and experiences and pieces that changed the way you approach your craft. Reading Talin Tahajian’s poetry has been one of these formative moments in my relationship with the craft of writing and understanding how it operates not only on a level of metaphor and meaning, but also subliminally. Talin’s poetry is an interplay of images, of the way sceneries of the mind can become metaphors for larger, more deeper meanings, and how the individual identity roams freely even when tied down physically.. The kind of internal monologues her work explores become reflections of some of the best pieces you might’ve ever read – there is a universality to them, but also ground for questioning, for doubt, a whole room to move in and interpret as you please. It is perhaps the best quality a work of art could claim to have.”

Smriti Verma, Poetry Editor 


Շարական (“In this new country”)

 

I’m living in a ridiculous, beautiful imitation
of a place I’ve already lived.
America’s scholarly faux cathedrals—
her gothic turrets and traceries—
her autumn-evening blue-bright architectures—
the way the light leaks in, cutting neat the forested edge of the entire visible world—
where the street folds into itself and ends without indication—
where everything is made miniature at the end of a long brick road with maples—
her nouveau riche. Her strange glories inherited—
her good real estate. Such a good way to render this discovered

immaculate land—I wake up, and my goddess-huge maple
has started to turn. Its leaves all flushed through.
September is over. And still I don’t know where in the world I am—

Here, in this new country, more people look like me—look just like me—

In moments of daily theophany, I walk by girls who look like me.
Imagine, all of us together again in the cul-de-sac of our ancestors.
Lined up as tiny identical icons—assembled in perfect portraiture—
kissing our խաչքարեր for mercy—but this time, not shot dead in turn—
Խարբերդ, the place we’re from, is no longer part of our country.
And, most of all, we’ll say, of Արարատ, they stole our beautiful mountain.

I don’t know what’s left in Armenia for me.
And Aleppo is gone.

In my mind, every day, I’m still on King’s Parade—
I’m crossing the same bridge over and over—
I did the best I could—it doesn’t matter—
there’s no place for me in England—

I waited three years to go into King’s Chapel, and when I did, my blood was flashing artificial—
I was seeing things that God didn’t choose to make—all of us
showing such petty irreverence for those blood-blue vaults and buttresses, all of us
together beneath the ripe-hanging festival moon—

The drugs tortured me as they left me—They torture me and again
again the torture, as the sun rose, through my fits and figures,
sapped primordial as Michelangelo’s yet-lifeless Adam, palms limp—
reaching toward grace—for the drugs—in some other kind of begging
before prayer existed at all—farewell, love, I’ve thought to myself

as I rise with it—the chemicals—naming myself and my friends over and over.
I sometimes forget my nomenclatures—I sometimes forget—

Once, I licked drugs from the hands of someone I love
disgustingly particularly—do you remember?
I am reminded of creation as wicked in a way that can’t be described
in speech or spell—that devilish art—I was named after a village

with a cathedral inside it . Talin, first misnamed nine
centuries ago by an ancient astronomer—an old master—I’d rather forget.
I name myself—Թալին—I name him too—Ptolemy

O my ancestors—O my lovely lost forgotten գուսանք—
my own little շարական—I create you—
I don’t know you—I still don’t know what parts of me are holy—

(Published in The Rumpus, July 2018)


Inklette: This question may be a little vague, but in all our reading of your work, starting from the very beginning, we’ve noticed that a number of your poems feature bird imagery as a recurring metaphor. What’s the intention behind this? Do you think we as writers tie ourselves to certain images and metaphors over the course of our careers?

Talin: I’m still young, too. Once, I was asked a similar question, and I said I’d never come away from the dead birds, or something like that. But I think, largely, now, I have done. I think it has to do with what we’re casting ourselves up against, at the moment—writers create imitable things, and I think that part of growing up and learning is sapping them all up—the ones that really stick with you—and spitting them back out. So, early on, I guess I was reading a lot of poets who use a lot of birds, and that’s how I learned how to write. They’re also, of course, almost infinitely poetic creatures—as in, literally, able to be poeticized—and can stand for love, hope, fear, loss, overcoming hardship, the transcendent, et cetera. This is why they are so malleable in the hands of new and seasoned poets alike, and another reason why they’re probably all through my older stuff.

That being said, about the “concrete metaphor”: I think we latch and unlatch like barnacles as we grow older, as the seasons change, as we move from city to city, and we’re surrounded by different objects and spaces…

 Inklette: How does a poet know the extent to which the usage of symbols would retain their personal appeal to the poet, while also not appearing overly cryptic to the readers?

Talin: The question, to me, seems to be about what is expected of the reader—what sort of reader are we expected to be? What does difficulty ask of us?—what does poetry ask of us? Does poetry really “[require] nothing of you other than a willing ear,” as Jia Tolentino recently described for The New Yorker? Poetic “difficulty” raises questions about elitism and precipitates discussion about the literarily “democratic,” qua Geoffrey Hill. It’s all about readerly expectation. But where does expectation come from? Again, it’s something constructed by our own understanding of what poetry “is” or “should be,” which comes from our own vertical and horizontal reading. So, the “symbol”-object, as you call it, will mean something different to me than it means to you, and it will mean something different to another reader, et cetera. I definitely don’t always intend for readers to “understand” everything that I write; that is, to interpret it in the same way that I do—how could they? Instead, I hope that they can sap from it what they like, the way different metals, affected by the same sound wave, ring with different tones?


Earth usually has more than one moon, study suggests

 

When the last stellar-studded gown swept across the whole

bleeding world, I cried. The pearly night ate me up. Marveling,

you ask, What is it like, living in the larval object? I used to know­—

the same goes for our sloshing planet. Now, I forget most things.

The darkness is round and white. It has become glorious and full.

It’s remarkable­—the way everything glows with the putrid energy

of an oyster mushroom decaying a dead and violated animal.

Long ago, before the end, the pink-grown sky haunted me lengthily

with an old, Western beauty. I was born beneath a sprawling display

of spring-torn clouds. I died the whitest death. Now, incessantly—

I’m bored of being famous; I just want to be a good person. I live in a glade

in an inside-out universe, a spell of sopping moss. Don’t you see?

I have risen from the black smoke of the new Levant, the richest part

where the moon is twice. O, you­—you break my thrashing heart.

(Published in The Iowa Review Online, April 2018)


Inklette: Two of your poems—“Perseids” and “Signs of Life,” both my absolute favourites—focus on merging internal monologues with metaphors of cities and coastlines. What’s the idea or the somewhat deeper meaning behind this? How does your conception of cities influence your writing?

Talin: Wow—well, I think that, right now, the city-as-poem and city-as-transgressable/trespassable-object is the obsessive place toward/into/in which I write, qua the first question… I’m not sure why. I like the way that reality and not-realities seem to coexist in the city. In a pretty typical way, I also have a lot of memories and passions and nostalgias attached to specific cities, and those are the ones in which most of my work lives, at the moment.

Inklette: A lot of your poetry focuses on interiority and reads like a stream-of-consciousness piece. At the same time, it also relates itself to, say, the immediate surroundings. Do you find this challenging? Do you think it can be hard to situate an internal monologue with, say, a political or social theme?

Talin: I don’t think it’s hard for some people—immediately, Nicole Sealey’s “Virginia is for Lovers,” sam sax’s “Executive Order,” and Dorianne Laux’s Facts About the Moon” come to mind, and there are many, many others—but, usually, I think it’s challenging for me, yes. I think I need to go somewhere, insert myself into that place, and that’s usually the right kind of fodder for me. Recently, I went back to Cambridge (UK) to do this, and it was incredibly important to me that I did. I believe that, in some way, most social themes are still spatial. (That’s one of those generalizations about which I’ll definitely disagree with myself in a few years, but hey.) The space is always there to ground the monologue, to tether it to the Earth.


No Steeple

“If there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.”
Artaud

I live in beautiful old buildings
that your fathers lived in,
& their fathers. Nothing is real until it is.
You’d hate that.
It’s hard to hurt things.
Isn’t it.
I’m afraid of spiders but I still scoop them cold
into my hands & let them free. Where’s the church
for things like this. I could talk about churches
but for the dust. I could talk
about cities but for the mist. Last night, I stepped out
into the crystal-cold English night & our looming chapel
was hanging in fog. None of us even deserve
any of this: the only city that envelops you like a shrine
to something you’re not even good enough to worship.
The not-church is my bedroom
& my soft-stained sink. The not-church is everything you, boy, think you know.
I’ve seen your books. I’ve seen your pen. Artaud called it
burning at the stake. I have burned & burned but is it burning
if there’s no one there to see? I burn
in a dark gorgeous cave in a turn of twisting earth
& there are no sounds there, & no figures
or forms, but the softest crystals on earth, pieces of not-rock
& not-thing & I burn in the not-light / & I bleed into my soap-stained sink
still soft / & I sign as I am supposed to sign:
standing straight still, signaling nothing, with nothing, for nothing, forgetting
my name as an echo that drifts & leaves its way to the shrine-city for which none of us
are good enough, where it disappears into the system of bells
as just another tonal, longing thing, lengthening & fading.
From my not-church in a building older
than our fathers, I hear it & don’t recognize myself
in it. I hear bells where, somewhere, in another
similar universe, there are no bells,
but through the chapel-feasting flames, an echo
from some dark-cave slick stone stake
signing Talin, Talin, Talin, Talin, Talin, Talin, Talin,
until, in the distance, a small body
falls from a cave in a cavernous crag, a burnt,
budding thing, still crying or bleeding, so thin
& so rot for mercy.

(Published in Cosmonauts Avenue, March 2017)


Inklette: In your artistic career, has there ever been a particular poem that you started working on and stopped? What was it about? Do you ever think about going back to it?

Talin: There are pieces that I think about writing, but I really don’t tend to start until they’re fully cooked—fully marinated? Ready to simmer? Or, done simmering and ready to boil? Either way, what I mean is that I don’t usually start things unless I’m itching to write them, and pretty deeply aware that I’m ready to write them, which is usually a gut feeling. That’s not to say they’re perfect. But I sit on things for a while. I sat on the topics of “Landscape” and “Barn Point” for ages, for instance—until I had a poem in me, fully and definitely, and until I knew that I’d got something—even if that “something” were very small—somehow right.

 Inklette: How have your sources of artistic inspiration changed over the span of your career?

Talin: Now, I learn and draw from the materials around me differently, and with a more critical eye, than I did when I was in high school. And I’m more aware and knowledgeable of the long poetic tradition of which we’re all a part—so, more to draw from. But I think the “inspiration,” the root of everything, must be the thing that doesn’t change—maybe not the reason the hand drags the knife, but the hand, or that the knife is dragged? I hope that makes some sense. Thanks for these questions.


I keep a strange list

 

The night whistles in
as through two
rain-white teeth.
I turn to myself
and say Help
I think I am killing myself—

this is everything we think we want.
Roadkill is so intimate. Launch yourself
into the gore-warm
ocean. Beautiful.
Hello the drowning
is so good Come back no one
can talk to buildings Come home
but I am missionless. I wait
for the water to reclaim
the high white columns
of our fathers. I am from an old city
and, now, from other older cities.
It’s hard to remember.
Sometimes, I walk
on the wrong side of the road
in the wrong country.
I am always dazed
and easily dazzled.
Like any good drug, a cold
glass of coffee lifts me bright.
I keep a strange list
of people I love.
I keep my own personal
terrible holy spirit.
It lives in my faint blood
and my whole animal heart.
We beat together. He is so cold.
Real gods knife you up.
I have experienced indications of the end of the world
so I’ve never been happy.
But I’ve been euphoric. If anyone ever
listened to me, they would know prophecies
and spells Come home to the water
but they don’t listen—they never—

(Published in Peach Mag, July 2018)


tt1TALIN TAHAJIAN grew up near Boston. Her poetry has appeared in the Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review, Best New Poets 2014 & 2016, Black Warrior Review, and the Rumpus. She edits poetry for Big Lucks and the Adroit Journal, and is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan. Check out her website and her Twitter

On Having a Blog

BY JOHN S. OSLER III

Writing can get lonely. Oftentimes, if it’s not lonely, you’re doing it wrong. A mistake I made when I was just starting out (in a relative sense, hopefully in the grand scheme of things I’m still just starting out) was that I spent too much time talking about writing and showing people my writing and thinking about writing and hardly any time at all actually writing. It’s temptingly easy to make being a writer into your identity. It’s got a sort of prestige to it, an area of creativity and self-expression where the only barrier to entry is literacy. Spending enough time alone in a room to actually write something of a decent length (never mind value), that’s harder.

But, like with most things, there’s a danger at each end of the spectrum. At first I was someone who talked up my stories without ever doing anything with them, then at some point I became someone who would write and write and write with no real end goal in sight. That’s not a bad way to learn, exactly, and I sure as hell had fun. But like I said, it gets lonely. And depressing too, building up a tower of pages only to realize that odds are no one but you will ever read most of it.

I started to get out of my shell a little bit, at first by going to the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio, then the New York Writers Institute two years later. A little at IYWS, but more so at NYWI, I realized the power writing has to connect people. It was a unique experience to get to know someone as a person and then read what they wrote. It’s like how you need two eyes set a little ways apart to get depth perception: you know how someone acts, you know how someone writes, and you feel like you know them inside and out. It helped that everyone I met at those events were excellent writers and people, but still, I wanted to get that more often. I wanted writing to be something more than what I did for an hour every night alone in my dorm, building up a stockpile of stories that might not ever exist anywhere but in my desk drawer.. That lonely dedication is necessary to build up the skills you need, but it’s still lonely.

I actually realized the solution a long time ago, but it took a year for me to have the surge

of commitment just to go ahead and do it. My blog is relatively young, just two months old at this point, and while I’m scared I’m running through ideas at an unsustainable rate, it’s still given me more or less what I wanted. It’s nice to have a platform to articulate the ideas that bounce around in my mind in lazy moments, and it’s given me a real opportunity to connect with people. I’m not a natural extravert, my voice doesn’t carry and even if it did I’m usually not good enough at coming up with something to say in the moment for it to be worth it most of the time. But I hope putting out my writing gives people the two-eyed perspective on me that I enjoyed with others, while I search out other peoples’ writing best I can so I can get the same perspective on them.

Of course, there’s a lot of navel-gazing involved, and I always wind up wondering if I’m really that interesting. But if that ever does become a problem, I’ll just have to think about other people for a little while. That doesn’t seem so bad.


12003007_1001022556622760_6551224101653223437_n-2jj JOHN S. OSLER III is a sophomore at Grinnell College. He attended both the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio and the New York Writer’s Institute. In middle school and high school he wrote over two hundred satirical articles for The Southern View. His short stories have been published in Sprout Magazine, The Phosphene Journal, Random Sample Review, Zephyrus, and The Grinnell Underground Magazine.

Revision And How To Make It Not Suck

BY LAURELANN HEATHER EASTON

No matter where you are in your writing process, revision will always come around. It creeps into your thoughts and makes you question if your writing is good enough, or if you should even keep going if the pages behind you are trash.

You can’t let the fear of the pages being polished enough stop you from finishing the draft, though. I have a friend who has been obsessing over the first two chapters of his novel. He’s been going back and revising those same pages, nitpicking at commas a conjunctions and descriptions, for over a year. I’ve been fighting with him to get him to just keep writing. At fifty pages, he was hardly moving forward. I encouraged him to push past that because there’s always time to revise. You can’t revise what you haven’t written, either (obviously), so it makes more sense to ride out the writing process across the finish line.

It might be okay to go back and revise before finishing your draft if the plot needs fixing earlier on, though, especially if it affects how you’d write anything subsequent. If you feel that something is structurally wrong, as in the house will topple if you don’t backtrack, then go forth and backtrack! It will keep you from any potential writing blocks to work out these kinks sooner rather than later. In my personal experience with a novel I started a few months ago, I received recommendations from my mentor to really get the world-building in it solidified, whatever that would look like, because the larger mechanics of the world weren’t really in place yet because I hadn’t made the hard decisions. These revisions of adding in world-building throughout the first thirty pages made it necessary to put off writing the next set of pages to instead edit and add in new details. I also ended up changing the timing of a key event in my narrator’s life, which would have also severely affected the following pages, so this is one of those types of adjustments to put off future writing for. It would suck to write more new pages and then delete most of it because you changed something earlier in the story.

It’s possible that the revision process will still lead to a lot of deletion. Don’t be afraid of that either. Some parts that you loved in the story may have to go because they don’t fit in with the rest of the plot the way you had wanted them too, but in the end that’s a good thing. It keeps your novel focused and clear!

So, some of you might be thinking, “Great ideas, but how do I stay in love with this story while tearing it apart?”

The thing is, you have to not view it as tearing it apart—unless you’re the type of person who hardcore gets a kick out of that sort of thing (like me). Consider it more like nurturing the piece to its best potential. The best comparison I’ve ever heard about what a piece of writing is like, is that it’s like a deformed baby. You love it, in all its ugliness, yet somehow you’re compelled to keep taking care of it. Your short story, poem or novel is your baby. It might not be the prettiest, but like the ugliest duckling, it has a lot of potential to be something amazing. Keep the love alive!

To help that, try to approach your work at a new angle that still keeps you excited and maybe digs deeper into things. The most interesting suggestion my mentor have me was to consider how much my narrator remembers of her traumatic experience. Playing with knowledge, and who knows what information, can be a lot of fun—challenging, but definitely fun. My mentor pushed me to delve further into her psyche and explore the darkness there. Remember, too, that your characters are fascinating people. You wouldn’t have chosen to write about them if that wasn’t the case. So see what’s there inside of them that you can pull out to keep you excited about their story!

Here’s a link to one of my favorite lists. It provides so many ways to revise and reconsider your writing! There are also a lot of exercises here that may just be helpful to get you out of a writing block! 


16649393_1226865780684357_4326104954904165115_n1

LAURELANN EASTON  grew up in Oswego, New York, but now lives in and attends collegein New Hampshire for a degree in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Her work has appeared in the last two annual publications of SNHU’s literary journal, the Manatee. Outside of writing and reading for fun, she enjoys hiking the peaks of New Hampshire and dabbling in the fine arts of painting and jewelry making.

Editor’s Note

A couple of weeks ago, I found a child’s painting on the pavement and decided to bring it home. It isn’t signed. It has holes punched all along the border, some uneven cutouts of stars and flowers, crayon scribbles in the background and a piece of string hanging loosely from a hole on the top right corner. I am not sure what made me pick it up, what it reminded me of. Perhaps it seemed to have a story. Perhaps I simply could not be indifferent to it.

When I think of magic, I think of that painting which now hangs on my wall. Magic lies in a child’s vision, in its unobstructed innocence and joy.  I am amazed when I think of how someone can find a resemblance between flowers and stars and fit them in the same frame. I am young ; my childhood is not that distant a memory. But I still wonder if I have the ability to see the world in such a way. A writer-friend once told me that writing is all about seeing the world through a child’s eye. I wonder if that might be true. Now, more than ever.

The themed submissions we received for this issue looked at magic from all angles– the private, the creative, the extraordinary in the guise of the mundane. And some of the unthemed submissions, too, seemed to be reflecting on magic in some ways. We are always left surprised by the number of submissions we receive and the relationships we get to build with our submitters over time. At times, I hardly believe we’re only six issues old.

I would like to express the greatest gratitude to our submitters who continue to trust us with their work. We are privileged and honored indeed. A huge thanks to the editors for everything that they do. Each Inklette issue is only made possible because of their astonishing passion, dedication and commitment. I would also love to thank Dan Rosenberg and Cema D’Souza for agreeing to be our featured writers for the issue.

We hope you like reading Issue 6! Do feel free to leave your comments and feedback or email us at club.ink13@gmail.com.

-Devanshi Khetarpal

Editor-in-Chief

Interview with Cema D’Souza

Read Cema D’Souza’s story here. 


 Inklette: How did your story, “Unseen,” come into being? What was your inspiration?

Cema: Trying to overcome a writer’s block was my inspiration, honestly!

Inklette: What is your relationship to writing? When did you first begin and what do you prefer writing?

Cema: I’ve been writing ever since I began reading at the age of ten. The process of story-writing always fascinated me. I would wonder how an author concocts brilliant plots and characters to bring out stories. So, I tried writing my own. I prefer writing short fiction.

Inklette: Are there any works or authors who have significantly influenced you? 

Cema: Harnidh Kaur’s poetry, definitely.

Inklette: Do you have a writing community around you? What is the writing scene like where you live? 

Cema: I currently reside in Bangalore, India and there is quite a wonderful writing community here. I’m lucky to call some of the best writers I know friends.

Inklette: What is the kind of writing you want to see more of?

Cema: Since it is so hard to find representation in mainstream literature, I would say Indian Writing in English.


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CEMA D’SOUZA, 19, is currently studying in Christ University, Bangalore. She’s happiest when surrounded by books and dogs.

Interview with Dan Rosenberg

“It is a rare privilege to know Dan both as a poet and as a teacher. Nearly three years ago, I was placed in his poetry workshop at the Iowa Young Writers Studio. Our first assignment was to read Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s surprising poem, “Song.” And I still remember how reading it made me wonder if it had been written for me.  But that was the joy of being in Dan’s workshop. He brought us closer to poetry from all over. He introduced us to poems with a remarkable kindness, love and friendship. And every morning, as we would meditate on language and poetry, Dan made us see how poetry can, in fact, be the greatest love and joy. Dan helped me realize that language can be the light and poetry, its sustenance.”

-Devanshi Khetarpal, Editor-in-Chief


Inklette: How does writing poetry affect your life? Has it made you a better person?

Dan: I fear the long history of poetry doesn’t offer much evidence that writing it makes you a better person. I’ve never thought of it as an external force that can affect my life, really; it’s bred in the bones of my life. What I am. After Auden famously says that “poetry makes nothing happen,” he less famously says it is “A way of happening, a mouth.” That sounds right to me. When I was a child, I wrote for myself, mostly thinly-veiled autobiographical poems. Now that I’m an adult, I write autobiographical poems with veils of various thickness. But everyone does that. I think my poems that are not straightforwardly responding to some aspect of my life remain autobiographical because I have an expansive view of the self – politics are part of my life, faith and the lack thereof, strangers. Which is a way of saying that writing poetry can be a way of articulating empathy.

Inklette: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the process of poetic composition? How do your other interests converge or diverge with your literary ones?

Dan: The boring answer here is time: Having a small child means that I no longer have the same huge swaths of time I once had to stare at the wall and argue with myself over line-breaks. But this happened to me recently: I had brought my son over to his friend’s house for a playdate, and I was talking with the friend’s dad. We’d apparently exhausted all natural conversation topics, because he asked me what I like to do besides work. And I froze. Do I not have hobbies? I spend my time being a father, a husband, a professor, a poet. I like watching TV and movies, but that’s not a hobby. I read all the time, but that’s technically part of my work. I laughed off my lack of response to him, and worried about it quietly for a week until I was going for a walk with a different friend. I told her I wanted to pick up a hobby because I didn’t have an answer to this guy’s question. She asked me if he was an artist, knowing that the answer was no. She reminded me that artists don’t have hobbies; we live our work, and everything we do is part of our work. I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me feel better. Also, I’m excited to get deep into gardening this spring. (“Verse” comes from Latin for a turn of the plow, a row or line.)

Inkette: Can you pinpoint a moment when you fell in love with poetry and writing? How has career impacted your conception of what you do throughout your life?

Dan: I’ve always been in love with reading and writing, and poetry has always been a part of that. It wasn’t until college, though, when I started studying poetry with Peter Richards, that it became something I considered having as part of my professional, public life, as opposed to just a thing I would always do on my own. He was the first person to read my poems critically, to tear them apart, really, and I thrived in his honesty. I had always been a grade-A nerd, and had never received much besides affirmation from my teachers. So there was something shocking and enlivening to bring five poems to Peter and watch him throw four of them into the recycle bin after a quick glance, and then dive deeply into what was working well in just three lines of the one remaining poem. I don’t think this approach would have been successful with everyone, and I’ve rarely felt comfortable approaching my own students’ work in this way, but it helped me immeasurably. That first class with Peter was a turning point, for me. At the same time, I had the chance to work as a TA in some other classes, to study pedagogy a bit, and those early tastes of teaching helped send me down the path I’m on now.

Inklette: How has your experience co-translating Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome changed your relationship to language both as a tool for communication and an artistic medium?

Dan: There is something tremendously liberating about translating, the way writing in a form, under strict constraints, is liberating. But unlike any other kind of constraint, working as a translator drives home the contingency of your language, the sense that your language is just one of many ways of construing and constructing the world.

For example, the very title of the collection posed a translation problem: In Slovene, hipodrom refers to a racetrack—where you could go and bet on the horses today—but also to the historical stadiums built by the Greeks and the Romans, the ruins that dot the modern landscape of the ancient world. There is no division in Slovene between the ancient thing and the modern thing. As an American, this notion of a continuous history is in some sense inconceivable. Trying to articulate the inconceivable: is that a definition of translation, or of poetry?


DanRosenbergDAN ROSENBERG is the author of cadabra (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2015) and The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press, 2012). He has also written two chapbooks, A Thread of Hands (Tilt Press, 2010) and Thigh’s Hollow (Omnidawn, 2015), and he co-translated Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome (Zephyr Press, 2016).

Rosenberg’s honors include a Presidential Fellowship from the University of Georgia, the 2011 American Poetry Journal Book Prize and the 2014 Omnidawn Chapbook Contest. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in such magazines as Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Boston Review, Poetry International, and Conjunctions. 

Rosenberg is an Assistant Professor of English at Wells College, where he also coordinates the Visiting Writers Series and the annual Chapbook Contest. He also co-edits Transom, an independent online journal of poetry and translation.

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