Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Aurora Phoenix

Marcia-Weber-photo-for-SD-interview-ConvertImage

 

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?

Aurora Phoenix

In what part of the world do you live? Tell us about it.
I live split between Dayton and Cincinnati, OH, USA. I enjoy the ease of access to nearly everything I need, while I find the viewpoints to be often a bit conservative. The most important defining characteristic of home to me is the location of my loved ones, so this is home.

Please tell us about yourself.
I am a professional career woman, mother and partner. I am in the process of rebuilding my life after an incarceration, and work multiple jobs as I regain my footing. I love to travel, including immersing myself in nature, experiencing new places, and photographing those experiences. There are never enough hours in the day to do all that I want and need to do. The most baffling thing that anyone can say to me is that they are bored. How is that possible in world so full of possibilities?

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.
https://auroraphoenixdoc.wordpress.com
When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?
My blog was begun for me, while I was incarcerated. I was writing daily, for the literal survival of my soul, and mailing my work home. Family members were encouraged to create a blog. After I returned home, I picked up the blog myself. It took me a while to begin interacting within the blogging community.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?
I have various motivations to continue blogging. One is the desire to continue to hone my writing, as I would eventually like to publish a book of my own work. I also greatly appreciate the community with which I have become connected on WordPress. At times, I am inspired to write by experiences in my daily life. At others, I am inspired by the work of other amazing writers and am prompted to write by their pieces.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?
I was invited to join one of Sudden Denouement’s sister sites in spring of 2017. I later joined with several other writers in creating Blood Into Ink, another affiliated site which highlights work related to trauma survival.

Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?
I had found Sudden Denouement as I began to interact among WordPress writers and was greatly impressed with their work. I submitted a piece to a writing contest and was astonished and thrilled to place within the top 10 pieces submitted. I remain immensely honored to be a part of such an incredibly talented group of writers.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
To me, Divergent literature means writing without being harnessed to rules, whether they be of genre, syntax or rhythm.

SD Founder Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language’. What is it?
The challenge with any secret language is in the translation. While it may read differently for each of us, it is the gusted spray of our carotids upon the page.

What are your literary influences?
This is a tricky question, since I began college as an English major and ended that in disgust after a semester in which my professors forced interpretations of various works as all revolving around sex and death. (I became a psychology major and rehashed that argument with Freud.)
I would have to say, for sheer determination, Anne Frank.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, to whom I credit a lifelong love of reading.

Has any of your work been published in print? (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?
A had 4 pieces published in an Anthology last year, The Poetic Bond VII. I submitted in response to a call for submissions and had several pieces accepted.

Do you have writing goals? What are they?
While I would love to eventually have a book of my own work published, my greatest goal for my writing is that is speaks to people. I do hope that my writing also creates greater awareness regarding the injustices rife within the criminal justice system.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites? Please share a few links.
Another challenging question. Often when I write it has the quality of giving birth – it is laborious and intimate and intense – and when I am done, I don’t look back. Then sometimes when I do re-read old pieces, I am surprised 😊.
Dreaming
Cuts of Silence
Still
Trouble in the Keys

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?

When I was a child, being a writer was one of my dreams. For many years, it went unrealized. I am ecstatic that I can now call myself a writer.

 

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Jonathan O’Farrell

FB_IMG_1524906819882-ConvertImage

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?
Jonathan O’Farrell, but also to be somewhat developed and further adopted ‘ misterkaki ‘

In what part of the world do you live? Tell us about it.
I currently own a house near Leicester in the Midlands of England. But to be honest I have not actually stayed here more than a couple of months since November 2016.
It is a rather unlovely ex coal mining village, albeit it is surrounded by England’s biggest and longest term land regeneration project, The National Forest.

Please tell us about yourself.

Semi-nomad at the moment and in the moment, Creative life transitioner, blogger, photographer, tentative shamanic student and, apparently, poet.
Forthcoming, my first two photographically illustrated anthologies, 2018; ‘Trinity’ and ‘Seasoned in Time’. 2019; ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire!’.
As rich as the creative experience the current life is, exploring Portugal, France, Spain and later Ireland, by winter 2018 I hope to have ‘settled’, a ‘tiny house” or similar, with sufficient land. The vision; create an abundant garden, for lost souls, separated loved ones, under the sun. A meeting place, with coffee, inspiring books, poetry and healing, however it may arise.

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.

Misterkaki.wordpress.com

misterkaki-writer.substack.com

When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?
I began on WordPress around the spring of 2017. When I started WordPress it was more for somewhere for me to record short ‘thought pieces’, a few travel tips and to some extent a minor showcase for my photography. Since then I have posted much more poetic content, as this has burgeoned. Substack is a new venture, taking over from my presence on Patreon. It will I hope be a platform for a monthly newsletter that can be subscribed to.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?
Of itself it is enough essentially to be a living archive of my writing and visual creativity. Of course the regular and supportive presence of a subscribing and most importantly, commenting readership is a big factor too.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?
As I recall July 2017.
Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?
I sent in a poem or two. I subsequently had a number of very enthusiastic online conversations and emails with Jasper Kerkau.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
In an overstimulated and seemingly homogenous world literature and other multimedia expression that authentically and without compromise cuts through this perceived predominancy.

SD Founder Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language’. What is it?
I perceive this as a brotherhood / sisterhood, even a cabal of writers that, even given our inherent divergence, essentially ‘get’ what the ‘otherness’ is saying.

What are your literary influences?
Ian Dury, soul / punk / funk wordsmith and songwriter. Chap had severe disabilities, but yet a big inspiration. More conventionally, in literary terms the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is, I have to say, a fair influence in the genre of poems I might call ‘love letters in transit’. Also figuring W.B. Yeats, Rumi, Khali Gibran and our very own S.K. Nicholas. But to be honest, you are as likely to see me reading books on celtic shamanism at the moment. Let’s just say my influences are eclectic, divergent even!

Has any of your work been published in print? (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?
Published in: Harbinger Asylum: Winter 2017 Paperback – 22 Dec 2017 ISBN-13: 978-1981623723

I wrote to Dustin and submitted three poems and two were published.

Do you have writing goals? What are they?
Forthcoming, my first two photographically illustrated anthologies, 2018; ‘Trinity’ and ‘Seasoned in Time’. 2019; ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire!’.
More collaborative writing. Thus far I have done some poetry with Canadian author Mary Rodgers. They are in the process of being submitted to Enrealment Press.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites? Please share a few links.
Lucid Learning Moments

The Well of Presence

Ritual

and finally, because simply I am fascinated by time and try to live in a present, created afresh in the moment, this, my very latest and curiously, longest by far, poem:

those days

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?

A bit of a reveal; as rich as the creative experience the current life is, exploring Portugal, France, Spain and later Ireland, by winter 2018 I hope to have ‘settled’, a ‘tiny house” or similar, with sufficient land. The vision; create an abundant garden, for lost souls, separated loved ones, under the sun. A meeting place, with coffee, inspiring books, poetry and healing, however it may arise.

You see, whilst my writing is my doing; my doing is my writing.

Finally, I must say how very encouraged I am by the latest SD developments, not only that, but by those who had the vision to initiate this divergent literary revolution in the first place. You have my gratitude.

 

Jasper Kerkau Interviews Talia Carner

talia

Jasper Kerkau recently sat down to chat with Talia Carner, author of  Hotel Moscow, Jerusalem Maiden, China Doll, and Puppet Child, and upcoming in 2019, The 4th Daughter.  Talia’s work is published by HarperCollins.

When I speak to writers, they often talk about a moment in which they decided to identify themselves, first and foremost, as a writer. Was there a moment like that for you, if so what precipitated it?

There was a time of “no man’s land” between my successful career as a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies and my nascent interest in fiction writing. While I had nothing to show—and certainly didn’t yet envision writing as a career—it consumed me both emotionally and intellectually. To compel myself to accept my new identity I printed business cards that read “Writer/ Marketing Consultant,” not only stating that I was a writer, but placing it first. That was the moment.

I have discovered that everyone has a book, writers are a dime a dozen: what has allowed you to succeed in a sea of dreamers?

Many people have interesting, complex life stories. That also means that they are potentially “one-book authors” who wish to write about themselves. Indeed, many do, mainly for posterity, if not out of need for self-introspection. That is not what my novels are about. My stories are completely imagined. As a character, I am yet to appear in any of my books, nor do I use any of my personal life’s dramatic events—with the exception of business-related experiences. (In PUPPET CHILD the protagonist works in magazine marketing, and HOTEL MOSCOW was based upon my teaching business in Russia.) What I do exploit, though, are the emotions, the sympathy toward social issues I care about, and I am able to crawl under the skin of each novel’s protagonist and live the events through her.

Then, of course, the key to success is rewriting, revising, restructuring and editing ad nauseam—except that it is a process I greatly enjoy. It’s no exaggeration to say that I go over each manuscript 50 to 80 times. Unfortunately, in these days of easy digital self-publishing many would-be writers skip this months- and years-long stage, and their books often reveal their impatience with the process.

There is a lot in your experience that young writers can glean and hope for. What advice would you give to those who are smitten by the passion for writing, but don’t know if it will lead the to anything except poverty?

Please allow me to dispel the notion that even success in publishing brings more than poverty. There are only a handful of American authors who make a comfortable living from their books; someone estimated that there are less than 100 such authors. Those are the ones publishing every year and selling millions of copies along with international rights. The rest of us, while successful in getting audiences’ praise and adulation still do not make enough to live on…. The simple math is that if a novel takes me four to six years of work, whatever I earn is divided by the many hours invested and means an income of merely a few cents per hour.

Many successful writers I know supplement their income by teaching creative writing, editing, or pitching magazine assignments. Therefore, a novice writer’s hope for riches is no different from an inner-city kid hoping to be the next Michael Jordan. I say: Just enjoy the basketball game (or the process of writing,) and find a lucrative career elsewhere.

I have found that fear of failure can be debilitating for many writers. What has been your experience embarking on a major project such as your last novel? Did you have that moment where you were paralyzed with fear?

I am never afraid, and therefore I don’t know what it feels like to be “paralyzed with fear.” I enjoy the intellectual challenge of each phase, and also know that there are worse problems in life. The worst that can happen when I launch a new project is that my finished novel might not find a home. Nevertheless, the writing is fulfilling in its own right, I learn a lot about subjects I never knew about—and anyway, if the novel is rejected now, it may get reincarnated years later. Every short story and essay that I put my mind to publish has indeed found a home, because there are hundreds of outlets and options; it’s a matter of persistence.

What is your latest project? How long did it take for your vision to come to fruition? What do you want the reader to take away from your book?

My next novel, scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 by HarperCollins is The 4th Daughter. It’s a story of tango and prostitution in Buenos Aires at the end of the 1800s. The topic percolated in my head for more than a decade. Surprisingly for me, once I found the groove of the story and started writing it, it took me only two years—not five as had my previous novels. However, this shorter time is no predictor for future works, because I’m already a year into researching my next novel (my #6) but am not writing it yet. I give myself five years to complete this book.

What I’d like readers to take from The 4th Daughter is the heart-wrenching inside picture of trafficking—and come out with the determination to bring a stop to human slavery.

Do you feel that there is something special about writers?

We are a bunch of people willing—and loving—to toil in silence and solitude for a very long time. We get transported into the lives and worlds of our characters to the point of routinely getting lost for many hours at a stretch. Does that make us special or quirky?

What is your experience communicating with other writers, and how important is that fellowship?

My writing group is an integral part of my writing process. I cherish their feedback and constructive critiquing as I develop a story. Over the years we’ve become close as we became familiar with each other’s inner worlds. Not all of my writing buddies are at the same point in our careers, and they may have different focus, but the common denominator is that they are good reviewers and we all care to invest time in each other’s work and help make the final product shine.

Once a manuscript is ready for publication, I get endorsements from other authors—often ones far more successful than I am, such as Nelson DeMille who had followed my career from the start (we used to sit on the same board of an art center.) HOTEL MOSCOW was one that covered his area of expertise, and his praise is printed on the front cover. Those blurbs that appear on the back cover and are quoted in press releases help launch a book out of the gate. I give forward by endorsing other authors’ pre-published books.

I am honored to have the chance to ask you questions. I hope that everyone would take the opportunity to read your books.

Learn more Talia at www.TaliaCarner.com

Talia Carner 2

 

Talia 3

 

Sudden Denouement Anthology Interview Jasper Kerkau and Georgia Park (3 Parts)

Georgia’s personal website is privatebadthoughts.com. She is curator of whisperandtheroar.com, as well as being a writer/editor for Sudden Denouement. This is the first of the Sudden Denouement interviews. Our anthology is coming out in very near future. I would suggest everyone to take a minute and explore the amazing writing of Georgia Park.

MY CITY IS GREY – An Impromptu Interview W/ Lois E. Linkens.

A few moons ago, a few glasses of wine decided that Lois needed a spotlight tossed onto her, and so this impromptu (and unprofessional, because I’m not a professional) interview was begun simply for appreciation. Enjoy learning more about her!


 

Q: I’ve been made aware that you’re in Europe somewhere—a marketplace for historical and/or haunted locations—do you have any experience with what you might’ve perceive as the supernatural?

A: I’m from England, specifically, which is obviously quite the destination for ghost hunters. However, while I have been to some places, which might be dubbed as haunted – such as Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, and the Clink Prison in London – I wouldn’t say I go looking for the supernatural. In my mind, ghosts and demons are like bees; they’ll only harm you if you go interfering. Keep your distance – my mum told me that a friend of hers used to make frequent use of a Ouija board, and its negative influence impacted her life in quite awful ways.

I know I believe that there is something more out there. I have a fairly good historical awareness of the Bible and I do have a faith. I don’t think that the slightly scary side of the supernatural and the spiritual realm, which includes God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit necessarily, has to cancel each other out. Perhaps some of the ways in which people encounter ghosts and spirits are manifestations of the different forces at work. It’s a whole other exciting world that exists essentially over the top of ours, and I would never want to discredit the experiences of others, considering how painful it can be to have my own beliefs scorned at. My general approach to the supernatural is a good amount of caution, a pinch of skepticism, a little courage and an extremely open mind.

Q: Speaking of the manifestation of different forces, do you remember the first poem you ever wrote, and if so, what caused it to manifest? AND DO YOU HAVE IT, BECAUSE HELLO?

A: Yes, I do remember it! Well, I think this was one of the first poems I ever wrote, and I believe I was in the [age] range of 6 to 9 when I wrote it. It was for a school competition, and the winner won a wind-up torch so obviously I was all over that. It went like this:

‘i’m always forgetting,
especially today.
i’ll tell you about it –
what did i say?’

As you can see, I was a comic genius even at the tender age of 6. And I won the competition! Still have the torch knocking about somewhere. I actually still love that poem, because it’s so brief, yet it’s quite funny too. I don’t remember exactly where the inspiration came from, and I know I did enjoy writing poems at the time so there may have been many more like this, but this is the only one I can remember by heart.

I started writing poetry again around 2012, and I do have some early ones, which I could dig out, but I like to think that they are hidden away for the greater good.

Q: That poem’s very, very witty for a young child. It shows an early understanding of humor, which is humankind’s only redeeming quality, that, and the invention of zombie movies. If something similar to ‘Night of the Living Dead’, or ’The Walking Dead’ happened, do you have a plan? If so, what is it? Where will you hide, or, will you run instead of hide?

A: Oh goodness, my plan for zombie survival. See, I like to think I could fight them. I feel like I would be able to create some strength from somewhere if the situation was dire enough. But in reality, I imagine I would go to sea. My dad has a penchant for sailing, so I’d stick with him. I would take everything I could possibly manage and take to the waves. The thing is that when I’m faced with these sorts of questions, I can’t help mourning everything I would lose rather than creating a potential survival plan. I’m very much a look-to-the-future sort of person, and the thought of not being able to live out a decent life does really devastate me. This kind of thing, whether or not it’s possible, would eradicate vast amounts of individual futures and that breaks my heart. Maybe I’m naive, but I see humanity changing for the better in a lot of ways and we don’t have time for a zombie apocalypse to ruin our progress!

Q: I think of that, too. The individual lives. And how much harder I’d have to work in a world with less to do — shoot, run, hide – A horrible world without Google maps.

How did you come to be a member of Sudden Denouement? Also, without googling it, how have you personally been pronouncing “denouement”? I’ve recently discovered I was WAY off.

A: I feel that my own life right now takes enough navigating without having to fear for my life.

I believe that Jasper, who was running Secret First Draft and SD at the time, followed my blog when I had just begun posting poetry at Secret First Draft. I was looking to get some of my work published somewhere, and had reached out to a few blogs without much luck. I sent an email to Sudden Denouement, which I discovered through Secret First Draft, and within a few days Jasper got back to me saying that he enjoyed my work and wanted to have me involved! It was so much nicer to have a genuine, personal email from a real individual responding to my plea for recognition, rather than a bland old rejection email, which didn’t even have a person’s name at by the end. I felt welcome straight away. But yes, I know I’ve been pronouncing it wrong this whole time. I thought it was ‘de-noo-ment,’ with a hard ‘t’ on the end. I even studied French at A Level. It was only when I saw a video of Jasper talking about it that the penny dropped.

Q: I was pronouncing it deh-now-mint. I had to google it and find the YouTube video of the robotic voice saying ‘day-new-ma’

I know you’ve recently been published in the poetical anthology collection concerning mental health, called “SWEAR TO ME” but when can we expect our highly anticipated, Lois E. Linkens chapbook?

A: It was a real privilege to be included in ‘swear to me.’ I did not expect to have my work published so soon. I was entirely happy plugging away at my blog and keeping it at a very neutral, easy level. For that reason and because of university, I don’t imagine there will be a chapbook very close on the horizon, but it is definitely something I would like to do when the time is right. I’m still establishing myself as a writer both among the community and in my head, so I think I need some time to develop my thought processes and really write something that has intense depth and complexity. I have various ideas and projects on the go; one particular novel is bugging me like no mistake. Watch this space, I suppose!

Q: You wouldn’t consider just putting together all your work thus far, into a chapbook? And what’s the novel about, or are you superstitious like me and cant tell just yet?

A: Well, perhaps. But I feel that at the moment, a lot of my work is practice. If you go back and look at some of my really early poems on my blog, my style and clarity of writing has changed, I like to think, a great deal. There are only a few pieces I’ve written, which I really feel accomplish something that has depth and complexity to it. So a compilation of all my work would be a collection of quite shoddy poems written just for writing’s sake, from a 19-year-old up to the slightly more unhinged, yet more politically aware, voice of a 21-year-old trying to figure out what she wants to say.

At the moment, the novel is just a collection of iPhone notes and scrawled plans in my notebooks. Events I want to include, scenes and images, a few character profiles, etc. I know it is going to revolve around one central female character. She will be a bit like me, I suppose – someone trying to figure out what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, and trying to find legitimacy as an artist and integrity as a creative individual. I want to engage with some current events and that’s difficult. It involves a lot of research and at the moment, I don’t have that kind of time! So it is just buried in the back of my mind for the time being, and hopefully will come to light when I’m ready.

Q: [Last few questions!] What’s your process? What gets you in in the mood to write/how do you get in the mood?

And, if you had to marry any classic horror character (Dracula, Wolf-man, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.) who would it be and whyyyy?

A: My process usually requires some spark of imagination, which might be something I’ve seen in a film or TV show, something I’ve read in another poem somewhere, a person on the street, a situation at the supermarket. As I say, my poetry used to be a great celebration of words and images and I’m beginning to refine that style. That means that I can’t just write about a thing I have seen. I need to say something significant about that thing. I need to explore why it mattered enough for me to write it down – not just, it was quite sweet or it was funny or it was shocking. I need to connect my poetry to my experiences in a way that has substance and intuition, rather than just excitement. At [university], it is harder to find time to ‘get in the mood’ to write. It tends to be just a way for me to have a break from all the other writing I’m doing – an expression of my other thoughts and other ideas that don’t come out in my academic work. I let my imagination and my thought process take the lead, I suppose. If something comes to mind, or something is bothering me, I will write about it. The writing makes time for me, rather than I make time for it.

I am so out of touch with classic horror that this is actually a pretty tough question. I’m going to twist it slightly and name a classic Gothic character – I would pick Daphne du Maurier’s Max de Winter. The murderous husband of the beautiful, manipulative Rebecca; when I read the novel for the first time, I was so intensely frustrated with Mrs. de Winter for not standing up to him or confronting him about his behavior and his secrecy, that I think I would like to try it myself. I’d like to try being married to the man who fell captive to Rebecca’s charms, and figure out what went wrong. Sorry if I cheated – classic horror isn’t really my thing!


Lois picked a classic gothic character, so to me her answer was substantially valid. REBECCA is a classic, and is even a favorite of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Lois is a thoughtful, talented human being on this splashing rock we’re all spinning on in the airless blanket of the rocky road, dancing in the Milky Way like a pinpoint, searching for individual meaning in an infinitely cold universe. You should keep your eye on her.

– Samantha Lucero

For more information on Lois E. Linkens’ work, visit her blog [HERE]

Jasper Kerkau Interview with Millicent Borges Accardi

th (3)
[Jasper Kerkau] Many of our writers and readers are new writers. You are by any metric a highly accomplished writer, having received numerous fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Arts. What advice would you give young writers/poets about finding an audience and perfecting their craft?

[Millicent Borges Accardi] It’s hard to give generic, one size fits all advice since most writers starting out have different strengths, but I would say across the board, two issues that seem to befall people just starting out: 1) they don’t read enough (like carpenters who want to make furniture but have never apprenticed or learned how tables are built), and 2) they have trouble finishing projects. Every new idea is like a brilliant butterfly that catches their eye and turns their head. One day they are super into the movies of Polanski, so they buy a new camera and software for film editing and sign up for screenwriting classes and all they can talk about it pitching their idea. Then, a few days later, they read a poem and suddenly want to be the next Keats. While it is good to explore, on a shallow level, to discover where your passion lies, there is also something to be said for Just, Finishing. Something.

So my advice would be to explore in your reading, read everything from botany textbooks to found poems to SciFi to Shakespeare, but once you find a project, even a mini-writing project, finish it. Even if you get bored. Even if it becomes irrelevant. Just finish it.

Everyone has interesting stories and a point of view, but not as many have the patience and tenacity to finish a manuscript. To follow one idea through to completion.

[Jasper Kerkau]I had this moment, which I speak of often, where I decided that I would begin to identify myself as a writer. For myself, it was a spontaneous event, can you speak to your experience finding your voice and deciding that you were a writer?

[Millicent Borges Arcardi]I cannot say I ever had an ah-ha moment where I was like wow. This IS IT. There was a time when I was a kid and stayed home sick in bed, for over a month, with pneumonia and I was convinced I would write the Great American sequel to Little Women. There were the notebooks and ribbon and pens and I settled them down around me like pillows.
When I got the call from Cliff Becker from the NEA, that was a seminal moment. At the time I was working with a group of IT programmers who knew nothing about my creative interests. I was doing a project where I worked as a Q/A person for a new software package, testing programs all day, running tests, simulations and recording bugs and errors. The call came in, “This is Cliff Becker” and I screamed and started to cry before he even got the rest of the sentence out. I think I ran down the hall and it was not long after that, thanks to the fellowship that I was able to take a year and a half off to write full time, and, since then, I’ve mostly managed to “buy time” to write, whether it is writing in the morning before a day job or taking a couple of months “off” for a residency, I treat time to create as a priority. Also, it helps I can write anywhere. As a kid, I was an only child so I rapidly learned how to focus even amid a party or when I was at work with my dad. Even now, if I am stuck at the airport, I sit down on the floor and start working on a project. The rest of the world fades away.

[Jasper Kerkau] One of the remarkable things about your poetry is the variety of places from which it springs. Your work seems to float between Americana to “the corner of Jilska and Mickalska” and every place in between. Do you feel your diverse background has made you a better writer?

[Millicent Borges Accardi] At a certain point in my life, there are filters, in which I look through to see the world and unless I expand these filters and explore other ways of doing and seeing things, through connections, reading. being in communities different than my own, as well as exploring my own community and communities in new ways, unless I swap up and change out these filters, a creative life and, also, compassion is lost. Filters have a way of ingraining and making life smaller, whereas witnessing and new experiences, new ways to say yes and to see through new eyes, these are avenues to expand existing filters and to take on new ones There is also a value to staying in one’s own lane and exploring in depth your own background and your own unique ethnicity and gender and age and way of being.

If you shut yourself down as a writer, you’re stuck. The wooden shutters are up and the storm windows beneath are solid. People say write what you know, but writing what you don’t know but want to understand it also a valid avenue. Being a better writer, for me, means paying attention to my own biases and listening, being open to conversations and differences and similarities. Being a better writer means witnessing and being able to take note of what is important.
Like the poem mentioned above, “the corner of Jilska and Mickalska” was an incident I viewed from the window outside the place I was staying in Prague. The city had been opened up for a large plumbing project and all traffic had been stopped at that one corner when, in the midst of installing sewer pipes, bones from old graves had been discovered. Archaeologists had been brought in and the area was classified as an official “dig.” All municipal work ceased and the priority was shifted to discovery and discovery.

One of the works that I had the strongest connections with was “This is What People Do.” I found it to be a stunning poem, in which I read some Beat influence. Can you expound on the work, perhaps giving some insight into the genesis of the piece?

Again, this was me staring out a window, this time it was in Venice Beach, where I lived for 12 years, in a white art deco rent-controlled building, that I shared with other like-minded artists, writers and actors. For a time, a friend of mine was the manager and the apartments felt more like a dorm than a building– my neighbor was Pegarty Long, a film-maker and twin sister of Philomene Long, the Queen of the Beats in Venice– she’d been a nun in the 1960’s and, when she left the convent, headed straight to Venice to hang with the poets and the surfers and neo-philosophers. She was Poet Laureate of Venice and married to beat poet John Thomas– whom she writes about in this poem

They are already ghosts
John and Philomene
As they pass
Along the Boardwalk
Where ghosts and poets overlap
As they pass, the gulls
Ghosting above their shadows
Everything’s haunting everything
Already ghosts
John and Philomene
Under the ghostly lampposts
Of Venice West
Their cadence
The breath of sleep
At rest
Lost at the edge of America
Already ghosts
And each poem
Already a farewell
Everything’s haunting everything
The sea is the ghost of the world
–Philomene Long

Through reading Philomene’s work and living in Venice, I guess I adopted the slang and the slants of the beat poets. “This is What People Do” is a collage between what I saw outside my window, the boardwalk, the street vendors below, the characters in the city and each two lines represent one aspect or one character of that one moment in time, as if they all existed, flat and round, together, sharing one nano-second of space-time.

 

Everyone has interesting stories and a point of view, but not as many have the patience and tenacity to finish a manuscript. To follow one idea through to completion.

[Millicent Borges Accardi’s Only More So is avaiable on Amazon. It is an amazing read, and sets the standards for so many of us trying to hone our craft. Please read my review of her book here.]

Conversations with Jasper: Spoken Word Artist Billy Pilgrim

white_background_with_writing-01.png

[Sudden Denouement is interested in all forms of poetic expression. Spoken word is one area in which we are trying to do outreach. I had an opportunity to do an interview with Billy Pilgrim who has a very distinct style of spoken work.

Jasper: I enjoyed your style of spoken work a great deal. I was very engaged by, not only the content, but also your production value. Give us some context about who you are and the evolution of your project.

Billy: Well, asking somebody who they are is a pretty deep question. So let’s start with the basics, we are a Norwich, UK, based duo. One spoken word poet, and one digital music producer. Interestingly we are second cousins, and we spent a lot of time listening to music and sharing ideas growing up. More recently as THK finished his degree in digital music, he was tasked with a collaboration project, this is really when Billy Pilgrim got involved. What started out as university project, spanned into something bigger. Now we produce music together, as well as gathering work from other spoken word poets and creating beat tapes which showcase other styles of poetry too. Really our aim is to put poetry back in the atmosphere and get people talking about it.

Jasper: I have always been a huge fan of spoken word, having worked the scene in Houston in the early-nineties. When I hear your style, I think of Sage Francis, who evolved his spoken work into quasi-rap. What are your influences in terms of spoken word?

Billy: It’s a strange one really, because as far as spoken word goes, I’ve listened to a lot more in since I’ve been writing it than I ever did before. I mean, of course I admire the work of Sage Francis, Kate Tempest and Scroobius Pip as much as anybody else, But thinking about it, my influences come from all over. You know when you put a ‘further reading’ section at the end of an essay, because you don’t have any direct quotes to put in, but those books had an impact on your ideas. Well, my further reading section would be, Johnny Cash, Mike Skinner, The Notorious B.I.G, Kano and so much more, but I guess the link between those musicians is their narrative style. I like to listen to stories, and I like to tell them too.

Jasper: The music seems to be an essential part of your performance. It is amazing. How important is the music to your project, and do you feel that opens your music up beyond a poetry audience?
Billy: The music extends our reach, people who would never give poetry a chance can perhaps have their interest peaked by the music, that’s when the poetry might get them. THK works hard to create a balance with the poetry. It is important that it doesn’t overshadow it, but it can’t go unnoticed either. There is a symbiosis between the forms (we think!) that makes it something brand new.

Jasper:  I do a lot of interviews, and I always ask about to whom you own a debt in terms of writing, for me it was the Beat Generation. What writer’s inspired you early on and helped guide you in your journey?
Billy: Well the first person worth mentioning would be Kurt Vonnegut. I owe him for my name, Billy Pilgrim is the main character in his novel Slaughterhouse Five. In fact, that novel is what got me back into literature, and ultimately into writing and performing poetry. If he wasn’t dead, I would send him an email saying thank you for opening my peepers again. I really enjoy the abstract nature of his work. As for poetry, I like to read the works of Jack Underwood (another East Anglian poet) his poems give a fresh insight into the modern world. THK says his favourite novel is “Less Than Zero” by Brett Easton Ellis, he likes the dark undertones of it all. He gets inspired by themes when he makes music, novels like that effect his mind state, and help create a mood that develops into music.

Jasper: Give us a brief overview of your latest project, where we can find your spoken word, and what plans you have in the near future?

Billy: We recently released a demo, consisting of three tracks. We imaginatively titled it “Three”. The first song “I’m Afraid” (which also has a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXM7kxi0t8Q) explores heartbreak and control within relationships, but more than that it explores the impact these feelings have on life in the modern world. The second track “Ajar” is heavily allegorical, it follows a journey of discovery and development, the narrative features in this poem attempt to determine what sadness is and where it comes from. And finally, “love Affair” is a response to addiction, a breakup letter to alcohol which doesn’t hold back. Funnily enough when we perform this live, people think it’s about a woman and tell us they feel the same way about their ex-girlfriends, I always think jeez, that must have been one toxic relationship, ha. You can listen to the demo here (https://soundcloud.com/bpthk/sets/three) and download it for free. You can also follow our facebook, twitter, and word press.
https://www.facebook.com/BillyPilgrimwithTheHeartseaseKid/
https://twitter.com/bpwthk
https://bpthkspokenword.wordpress.com

If there are any poets out there who want to get involved in something exciting, we are working on a collaborative project called “words with friends” (https://bpthkspokenword.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/spoken-word-poetry-what-is-words-w-friends/) which is still collecting submissions.
IMG_6718