Hi! This post is a little late going up today. I had a bit of a Veronica Mars marathon last night, which is no surprise if you have seen my Twitter. Anyway, welcome back to the fifth day of Poetic Justice! I hope you have been enjoying the other poets’ posts. I know I have.
Poetic Justice is a month long event, beginning April 1st to April 30th in honor of National Poetry Month. Throughout April there will be interviews, guest posts, excerpts and other poetic posts. I hope you will follow along. To read the introductory post, read about my poetic background as well as the schedule for the month, you can find out more here.
Today I have an interview with Lexi Vranick. I love all of these answers, but a specific few I love a ton. Check them out!
Poetry has meant so much for me since I was a teenager, what does poetry mean to you?
For me, poetry is the way I understand. It’s the way I process emotions. Putting words to my feelings, no matter how dark or confused they might be, and turning them into art helps me understand myself and the world around me. It has also, over the years as I’ve gotten more and more comfortable sharing pieces that more personal and intimate, given me a way to communicate. I feel like, when speaking out loud, I get anxious and trip over my words. When I write poetry, I have time to think and edit and rewrite and perfect exactly what I want to say. It gives me the confidence to say (or rather, write) what’s on my mind without a filter and without fear of stumbling over the words.
How do you go about creating a poetry collection?
I begin with a theme- for Ready Aim Fire, it was mental illness and healing and for Fictitious, it was pop culture and the power of fiction. I’ll write a couple of poems in a stream-of-consciousness style to act as cornerstones for the collection and set the tone I want to accomplish. Once this is done, I’ll usually do a first-draft design of the cover to help visualize the final product. When I have about half a collection’s worth of poems, I’ll dig through older pieces to see if I have any that will fit. This search breaks me out of the cycle of endless plugging away at a keyboard, and also helps me refocus my vision for the book as a whole. Once I feel like I have everything, I let it rest for a few days to a few weeks, then return with fresh eyes to organize the book, do a read-through, and send it off to a beta reader.
Have you ever dealt with a writing hiatus? What did you do?
The only time I ever had an extended writing hiatus was when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I was at what felt like the lowest point in my life, and I barely had the energy to function as a human being, let alone to continue writing. I’d churn out a short story here or there, but never felt like anything I produced was worth reading and surely never let it see the light of day. About a year into treatment, I enrolled in a creative writing class at my local community college- I had taken a year of school to seek help, and was trying to ease back into things; creative writing seemed like a natural place to start. My professor was nothing short of spectacular, and the class was made up of some really exceptional people. It was a perfect storm. The professor encouraged us to write about our deepest feelings, and everyone was willing. It was like group therapy, in a way. We shared our work, listening to each other, became a unit. The class helped me find my footing in a world I thought I’d lost, and a little over a year afterwards, I self-published my first collection.
What do you think about this sudden height that poetry has become as far as social media and publishing?
I think it’s great! Art evolves, and it’s exciting to see that evolution happening right before your eyes. I feel like, growing up, people always groaned at the poetry units in their literature classes. The heightened language and complex themes, the way you often have to dig for meaning- it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve seen so many think-pieces lately on so-called “Insta-Poets”, and regardless of how you personally feel about the movement, you have to admit that it has gotten the world talking about poetry again. It’s making poetry approachable, and opening a door to readers who may have otherwise shunned it. It’s giving people an outlet to express their thoughts and emotions artistically, and providing platforms for writers big and small to share their work with others. It’s pushing new work into the market and poetry a viable investment for publishers, opening doors for writers who may have otherwise struggled to find their home. What could be bad about that?
Do you have any advice for someone struggling to write poetry?
Write about the thing you want to write about the least. The thing that’s eating you. You don’t have to share it with anyone, but let it get the juices flowing. Let it come out, because once you open the floodgates, you’ll find a wealth of poems already inside you. Go out and experience something new. Hike to the top of a mountain, or visit a new coffee shop, or go to a town you’ve never been to before. Write about how it makes you feel. Carry a notebook with you, or just utilize the notes feature on your phone. Don’t let your inner perfectionist tell you it’s not good enough. It comes from you; of course it’s good enough.
What poets would you recommend?
Gallway Kinnel, for sure. My cousin sent me The Book of Nightmares when I was still in high school and it just did something to me. I still reach for it every now and then! Tyler Knott Gregson is also a big favorite, as well as Iain S. Thomas. Etel Andan is incredible- I read Night in one sitting and then dove right back in for round two! And of course newer voices such as Amanda Lovelace, Gretchen Gomez, Isabelle Kenyon, and Melissa Jennings can’t be forgotten.
What works are you currently writing? How did you come up with them?
I’m working on something rather different at the moment, actually. It’s a project for Camp NaNoWriMo, meaning I’m attempting to complete the first draft in a month. It’s less contemporary/modernism and more narrative epic. I’m focusing it on Norse mythology, particularly around Loki and his children. I’ve always wanted to write something pertaining to mythology, and Norse stories have always stuck with me. I came up with this particular idea while reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. He wrote with a certain sympathy toward Loki’s family that stuck with me and made me want to explore their stories further. So I bought two more books on Norse legends, invested in the Poetic & Prose Eddas, and got to researching! It’s definitely tougher than anything I’ve done before, but I find that more exciting than scary- mostly.
You have suddenly lost all writing you have ever done, what do you do now?
Start over. Nowhere to go but up, right?
Lexi Vranick is a poet and fiction writer from Long Island, New York who navigates life with her dog at her side. She is a member of the Long Island Writer’s Guild and a student at Gotham Writer’s Workshop.She is the self-published author of three titles, including Ready Aim Fire: A Poetry Collection, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from Excelsior College. Her work has appeared in the Mind Poetry Project Please Hear What I’m Not Saying. Her fourth book, Fictitious, will be available on April 24, 2018.