Viewless Wings founder James Morehead (Poet Laureate – Dublin, CA) interviews poets and artists from around the world, on ViewlessWings.com and the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast. To pitch an interview, email a proposal to editor@viewlesswings.com. Below are featured interviews:

Yanyi

Yanyi

I do a lot of things in my editorial process to re-meet the poem. I do a lot of handwriting and retyping and part of that process is asking myself whether this particular part is worth writing out again. I ask if I derive pleasure from writing something out again.

Yanyi (poet and author of “Dream of the Divided Field”

Safia Elhillo

I started out as a youth slam poet, so my background is in spoken word and performance poetry. The foundation of any formal training I had as a poet started out in performance. I think for as long as I’ve had a relationship with writing poetry, I have had a relationship with reading my poems out loud. I almost feel smarter as a listener of my own poems than I do as a reader of the poems when I’m in the drafting process.

Safia Elhillo (poet and author of “Girls That Never Die”)
Safia Elhillo

Olivia Gatwood

I think it’s really valuable for us to understand that writing a poem and having it exist on the page, and performing a poem, offer different things, but no poem has to be exclusive to one form. It’s just about recognizing that there’s going to be things you lose, and there’s going to be things you gain, in each form, and really trying to approach them differently and just figure out the best way for the poem to exist in that specific space.”

Olivia Gatwood (poet and author of “Life of the Party”)

A.E. Stallings

If you enjoy writing poems, don’t be bullied into not writing them. Oftentimes rhyme gets a bad rap when it’s not done well. Part of that is absorbing the rules and learning how it’s done, by reading poems that do it successfully. When rhyme sounds jingly and jangly, and that’s all you’re noticing in the poem, that’s often to do with the syntax of the poem. If you have a poem that’s rhyming ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ and ‘mat’, which are all monosyllabic nouns, it means those monosyllabic nouns are ending up at the end of every end-stopped line. Instead, think about rhyming across parts of speech, ‘love’ and ‘above’ for instance, is a good rhyme. Then you’re going to have more interesting syntax going across the lines. If the rhymes are falling on different kinds of words that’s often a much more subtle effect.

A.E. Stallings (Pulitzer Prize Finalist for “Like”)

Lisa Marie Simmons

Even if I’m writing a poem that’s going to stand alone there’s an internal rhythm. When I’m not writing with music or I’m working on a very specific structure, I’m finding my rhythm. When I’m working with music I want the echo of the words to be in the music, and vice versa, like I both the music could stand alone that Marco writes and my poetry I hope can stand alone, but they are exponentially greater when they’re entwined.

Lisa Marie Simmons (poet and musician)

Sean Singer

I happen to think that poems exist in the atmosphere, in the environment, and it’s the responsibility of the poet to have enough facility with language to be attuned to when those poems occur and transcribe them into English. Driving a taxi for many, many hours, it’s hard. It’s 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. A lot of the time it’s very mundane and repetitive, and you have a lot of time to think and brood. When I realized that enough very strange things happen, this rolling therapist officer—rolling confessional, I thought it might become a book.

Sean Singer (poet and author of “Today in the Taxi”)

Angie Trudell Vasquez

The poem has to dictate the form. I always practice my pieces aloud, so I’ve trained my ear. For “Dark Knight”, I tried to get rid of anything that was not serving the poem. I get rid of all the dead sounds and work with the nouns, verbs, and rhythm of the piece. I know what’s behind that piece, but I like to think poems take on a life of their own. “Dark night” is a dark piece, what it is like to live in the United States. We have history that we don’t always recognize or grapple with, but it’s all there.

Angie Trudell Vasquez (Poet Laureate of Madison, WI)

Tyler Mills

When I’m thinking about poems and relationships with texts, I often will find myself snagging on a phrase from the text that I just can’t let go of. Sometimes it’s a phrase that is so odd or weirdly enchanting that I feel like if I lifted it away it invites me to play with it and say something new. It invites me to reflect even more deeply with the text from an artistic standpoint. Other times, I am walking around in the world and a line or title will come to me. Yesterday, I was taking a walk and I had to stop and text myself titles so that I can just get it down.

Tyler Mills (poet and author of “City Scattered”)

Carmine Di Biase

The book came together gradually and it dawned on me that the mixture of poems inspired by Shakespeare with a larger proportion of poems drawn from my own life form a metaphorical dance with American life. … I was drawn to Shakespeare because so many of his plays are set in Italy and the Italy of his imagination. I was stunned later to learn that there’s no evidence that Shakespeare ever traveled outside of England, let alone to Italy.

Carmine Di Biase (retired Distinguished Professor of English at Jacksonville State University and author of “American Rondeau”)

Regina Harris Baiocchi

I’ve been writing poetry for over 50 years. I get bored very easily, and so I like to try to do as many new things as I can. One of the things that I like doing is interacting with other poets. I think that’s the most important thing, because writing, whether it’s music or poetry, needs large blocks of uninterrupted time alone. When you’re always writing and living in your head, you need someone else to tell you, ‘Oh, hey, that’s not really all that wonderful’ or ‘Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself, that’s really great.’

Regina Harris Baiocchi (poet and musician)

Kari Byron

I think I’m a lifelong artist. My recycle bin was always my craft bin. I’ve constantly been making little things since I was a kid. I used to take old pantyhose and make dolls. I do sculpture all the time, it keeps my hands busy. On MythBusters, I had such an incredible shop to work with that I could expand what I would do: everything from woodwork, to clay, to molding, to metal, and of course, an alternative medium has been black powder.

Kari Byron (co-founder of EXPLR, former host of MythBusters, and artist)

Nick Courtright

I’ve always been somebody who didn’t want to overfit lineation. For example, I don’t want to play with line breaks to such an overt sense that it actually betrays the spoken version of the poem. So I do feel like I try to make the poem on the page something that replicates the actual experience of reading it aloud. I do feel like there’s a connection in my work that I like to hold between those two things so that you have a good roadmap.

Nick Courtright (poet and author of “The Forgotten World”)

Morgan Liphart

I wrote the book with a story arc that mirrors my own life. I grew up in Illinois and then moved out to Colorado in my early 20s. I packed my bags and left everything behind and started completely fresh, completely new. I didn’t know anybody in Colorado. … That’s why this book was so emotional and healing and therapeutic for me to write because I was able to create that story arc and work through, and acknowledge and process, the tough things in order to come out on the other side a more healed person.

Morgan Liphart (poet and author of “Barefoot & Running”)

Rachel Abramowitz

My sister is a visual artist and takes up large canvases with her paintings. So interacting with her over the years has encouraged me to use the page more like a canvas. It seems that there might be a glimmer of how to use the page at the beginning of the poem, but maybe halfway through and during revision, I am able to push words around a bit more like paint. I’m not so worried about what they’re saying anymore at that moment because I’ve said all the things that need to be written down and now I can shuffle the material around.

Rachel Abramowitz (poet and author of “The Birthday of the Dead”)

Jessica Sabo

Writing is rewriting. My process depends on what I’m writing about. If I’m writing about something from my childhood, then I normally have a more casual process where I think about what I want to write about: the memories, what I was feeling at the time, and how I feel now as an adult looking back on those memories. My process for when I’m talking about my adulthood, where I have a very clear memory, begins with a loose outline. I’ll sit down and just write without looking too much at structure, grammar, or even the spelling. I just try to get the poem out so that I have a shell of a story that can be molded into something more artistic and creative.

Jessica Sabo (poet and author of “A Body of Impulse”)

David Wogahn

I have been interested in publishing and media since I was a kid, starting with delivering newspapers. As a teenager I wrote an op-ed once for a newspaper that got published. It was the first thing I ever wrote and that was published and I was, frankly, shocked. I always had a love for publishing and I think what I do now is really the ultimate manifestation of that, managing the whole process which wasn’t possible until eight or ten years ago.

David Wogahn (Founder of AuthorImprints)

Corey Van Landingham

In the revision process I ask: is there a flatness of tone here, does this only exist to provide information? if there’s not another layer, another level of texture, whether it’s sonic play, rhythmic play, an associative leap to something else, then I know that I need to go back. Oftentimes it takes another reader to help me. I rely on my poetry communities and my trusted readers. My husband is one of them. He’s my best editor and he’s very good at letting me know when this is just information. No matter how long you write it’s still difficult sometimes to step outside yourself and to see it’s just not working.

Corey Van Landingham (poet and author of “Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens”)

Ruchi Acharya

I envisioned a community where writers and artists would be invited solely based on the merit of their writing and creative skills. Wingless Dreamer connects all the elements of writing: illustrating, editing, marketing and promoting on a single platform so that authors and artists don’t have to go through the hardship of the publishing process. Unlike traditional publishing companies, at Wingless Dreamer you get access to free critiques, reviews and promotions, and in some cases funding for their work.

Ruchi Acharya (poet and founder of Wingless Dreamer)

Philip David Morehead

I think my love of words came from growing up in the household that I grew up in because my parents were immersed in that world. Every word was a subject of conversation. Every word was something to play with. My father seldom used a word normally. He would always fool around with it because using the word normally was much too boring. I lived with this for my entire young life, and it was somewhat daunting because my father was a remarkable person and an incredible editor.

Philip David Morehead (musician and lexicographer)

Bianca Amira Zanella

Poetry is an oral tradition, one of the oldest art forms. I actually do a lot of my writing using speech-to-text on long isolated walks by myself. I have one line in my head that has stuck and then I am just talking to myself over and over again with that line and then it becomes another line and another line. And then I get a flow going. And then I’m moving, I’m shaking. I’m just recording when I’m writing. I come from spoken word and I feel like a lot of poets who come from the slam or spoken word community tend to do this. 

Bianca Amira Zanella (Poet-in-Residence, Phoenix Books)

Zoe Norvell

…books are so personal. It’s something we do with ourselves. It’s not really meant to be shared. I think about how Instagram has taken over everyone’s life. We take a picture, we immediately blast it out to thousands of friends. Twitter is such an effective way to get an idea out quickly, but the act of reading is so private. It’s really not meant to be shared and duplicated 100 times. We don’t need to digitize the thing you’re reading, it doesn’t make your experience any better.

Zoe Norvell (book designer)

Brittany Smail

When I tell people I’m a copyeditor they usually don’t know what that means. An editor is somebody that an author is generally working with in the early stages of creating a finished manuscript. While that changes for every project, and for every author, the editor is there when the manuscript is getting written and put together. A copyeditor comes in when you have what is basically a finished manuscript. No manuscript is ever really finished, and with a lot of authors we’re going to be making changes right up until the end, but the copyeditor comes in, looks at that manuscript and cleans up everything in your book, polishing things with fresh eyes. 

Brittany Smail (copyeditor)

Ryan McRee

I think that while poetry is not always characters interacting (although sometimes it is), a poem is trying to accomplish something in the same way that a piece of drama is trying to incite a mood of some sort. The objective of the poem is a little bit more mysterious sometimes than a play, but I think the person reciting the poem has the responsibility to know the poem well enough to bring light to what that effect is. The way they can do that is by making their reading actionable by giving it that meaning.

Ryan McRee (screenwriter, dramaturg and poetry coach)

Deon Nielsen Price

It begins with a feeling, a message, a musical idea, and you don’t know what you’re going to do with that musical idea. It might be a rhythm, it might be a melody; I don’t know where it comes from. Then you take that idea and you see where it’s going to lead you, and then that leads to the form as you develop and make more out of the original idea.

Deon Nielsen Price (composer and musician)

Gaia Alari

When my ideas are clear, I started drawing… drawing… and drawing. I have to thank medical school for my ability to be laser-focused. I draw from 8am in the morning to 8pm at night. That’s why I love podcasts, TV series and films, because I need something to listen to while drawing. My mind needs to be in close contact with my hand, so while I’m drawing I need to think of the scene that I’m going to draw next. I want to maintain the freedom and ability to make mistakes and then correct those mistakes and come up with something different during the process. It prevents me from getting bored, because boredom is one of my biggest fears.

Gaia Alari (director-animator)

Beth McDermott

I am a pretty incessant reviser. I know I’ve got something to work with when I’m starting to get down to the line level and really think about the syntax, relation to the line, the strength of certain words and images, and the punctuation. I tend to revise for a long time, and even wait on poems before sending them out for any kind of feedback, sometimes even for years. I love thinking about the importance of white space and I do think what is unsaid is often as important as what is said. So for me, white space is definitely a sonic aspect of the poem and an individual one as well.

Beth McDermott (poet, author of “Figure 1” and U of St. Francis Asst Prof of English)

Cutter Streeby

I wrote the poems to be a block of text because when you have all these line breaks and traditional forms of a sonnet, it comes with a lot of connotations. For example, the last word is really important in how it ties to the first word in the line break. I wanted each word to be weighted the same so that when somebody else came to that block, they could put their own connotations on it a lot easier. This poetry is hard to write, but I wrote it to be hard to write because I like hard poems. I wrote this book for me – this is how I like to read. I like poems where you can read it and you can get some piece of information from it, but then when you come back to it and change your inflection points and the way that you read the poem, it’s a whole different ball game.

Cutter Streeby (poet and author of “Tension : Rupture”)

Tina Cane

I’ve always been interested in the spacing and the interplay in poems. I don’t use punctuation very often in my own poems and I like to use space and caesura as punctuation. Even sometimes within the same poem, the caesura is doing something different in one line than it is in another line. Sometimes it’s sonic or sometimes it’s creating or isolating a unit of meaning or an image unit with a phrase. I really like to write long lines. I always write landscape on the page so that I don’t feel encumbered.

Tina Cane (Poet Laureate – State of Rhode Island)

Cynthia Good

When you go through these major life changes, losing a parent as an example, you feel like you’re the only one who’s dealing with this. Being able to write about it and talk to other people helps you realize that death is something natural and human. … To be able to express that on the page and then connect with others who’ve experienced it too is pretty magical.

Cynthia Good (poet and author of “What We Do with Our Hands”)

I’m a big fan of paring down and I believe less is more. When I was first starting to write, I wanted to hang onto every word that I birthed. And now, I have a detachment where it’s just easy. If something isn’t working, I can put it somewhere else or throw it away entirely and having a bit of distance helps it not be so difficult every time.

Sarah Kobrinsky (poet and author of “Nighttime on the Other Side of Everything”)

I come from a long tradition of other poets who have written about death, mortality, and the loss of loved ones. The fact that it doesn’t seem trite to people and that it speaks to the universal human experience is really touching to me. I didn’t expect the book to land as it has.

Pamela Wax (poet and author of “Walking the Labyrinth”)