Interview by: Melanie Figueroa
Amanda is a student at Cal Poly Pomona, a tutor, and an editor at The Poetics Project. While Amanda’s goal is to become a teacher, she also writes poems and short stories. On April 26th, one of Amanda’s poems will be published in the Pomona Valley Review Literary Journal. For more information about the journal, visit their website www.pomonavalleyreview.com. Below is an interview I was fortunate enough to be have with Amanda about what it’s like to be published, her writing process, and, of course, poetry.
The Poetics Project: Amanda, you wrote this poem in response to a workshop for The Poetics Project. Can you please tell us a little about that assignment and how your piece was influenced by it?
Amanda: Before the website was launched, we had a small Facebook group in which we critiqued each other’s writing and had creative writing projects with a deadline for the work to be shared. The assignment my poem was in response to had two requirements – one, that it be about childhood and two, that it fit with Russian formalist critic Victor Shklovsky’s view of art in that it takes a look at the mundane and transforms the familiar by describing it in unfamiliar terms so that the reader takes a look at the mundane subject and sees a new thing in it they hadn’t recognized before. My response to that prompt was to take the opposite view of childhood that society generally holds – that it is not something precious, unique, and priceless and, in fact, is something that everyone has, good, bad, or in-between.
The Poetics Project: Was this your first work published? If so, are you going to pursue being published again?
Amanda: This is my first creative work published in a literary journal. I have had articles, interviews and show reviews published back when I was a writer for a local magazine, but nothing really beyond that. I think I shall pursue being published more often, when the opportunity comes up.
The Poetics Project: Why did you decide to write your piece in prose? What do you think this decision contributes to the poem, if anything?
Amanda: If anyone has read my writing before, they will know that I generally prefer structure and form in my poems. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new, and I guess it worked. I really don’t write prose poetry all that often, though I do write short stories and use prose within them.
The Poetics Project: Where and when can I read your poem?
Amanda: The poem is being digitally published in the Pomona Valley Review and will be read for download from PomonaValleyReview.Com on April 26th, 2013 (which is today, actually!) and is free to all.
The Poetics Project: Have you experienced writer’s block? If so, what advice do you have for others who may be lacking inspiration?
Amanda: Only on academic works. If I experience writer’s block on a creative work, I just quit it and move on, or try something else out and see if that works, if not, yeah, I just quit. My writing process is very frantic and I come back to things all the time. I would say I just approach it again later and if it never works out, I don’t sweat it. I don’t write from a process of “I’m inspired at this moment SO I MUST WRITE RIGHT NOW.” I’m more of “Oh, that sounds interesting,” then I write it down and play with the idea later.
The Poetics Project: Do you have any advice for those looking to get published?
Amanda: Submit to everything and don’t sweat rejection. There will be 100 rejections for one acceptance, and it just takes that one yes to get your work out there.
The Poetics Project: How do you feel about discussing controversial matters in poetry, like gay and lesbian rights, abortion, or immigration? Do you thinks these subjects are appropriate for the form?
Amanda: I’m a liberal and a political science minor, so I feel that poetry is a proper form for controversial discussion. I write poems about political issues all the time, such as women’s rights and gay rights. I say a poem is in the hands of the writer and the writer can tackle any issue they wish.
The Poetics Project: Random question–Where is a place you go in order to find solitude? Could you write a short poem for us about that place?
Amanda: Uh, the bathroom? Seriously, no one talks to you in the bathroom. I rent a room and I spend most of my days tutoring or in a class, so I’m almost never alone. I guess in my car I’m alone, when I drive from home to work or school and then back home. I guess my car is a better answer than the bathroom.
My left shoulder has never recovered from the accident
I still feel the pain in the morning when I rise
And the stiffness when I sleep
It is the nature of the beast –
It is a beast of burden
It has no feelings
It is driven by man
Man pushes the beast
And the mistakes are not its fault, but mans
I can never feel safe in the herd
Because man is fallible
But I feel safe when alone
With the beast
Just as breakable as me
In the dark
On the drive home