Tag Archives: interview

Where I Ache Blog Tour: Interview with Megan O’Keeffe

I was fortunate to interview Megan O’keeffe, author of Cracked Open (2018) and Debatably Dateable, a blog about poetry, romance, and love. Her latest poetry collection, Where I Ache, is available for pre-order on Amazon. (2019). Read on to learn more about the poet behind the pen.

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Artist Interview: Eileen Tull

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a performing artist originally from Cincinnati, OH, currently living in Chicago. I have a big family and I love Star Wars. I have worked in theatre as a director, playwright, and administrator, although I’ve recently moved towards performance. I perform all over the country as a performance artist, poet, one woman show person, storyteller, and comedian.

When did you first discover your passion for writing and the theatre?

From a very young age, my siblings and I were creating horrible holiday plays and forcing my parents to watch. I’ve sought the sound of applause ever since I can remember.

What is your creative regimen? How often do you write?

My best inspiration is a deadline. I wish I had a better schedule for myself, but I find the actual act of writing very tedious. I take lots of ideas out for walks or runs by the lakefront, sort them out, and then, at the last possible moment, sit at a laptop and type the thing.

Do you have a day job as well?

I have two day jobs right now, as well as a monthly production management gig. I need the structure and the financial support provided by these things. I can’t function without either, truth be told.

Do you have any advice for artists who are looking to direct and/or write stage plays?

Don’t start a theatre company. But when you do, make sure you’ve seen a ton of work in your community. Be genuine and don’t apologize for yourself. Find the balance between confidence and humility. Get comfortable, it’s a long haul. Take breaks. Build other people up. Come to terms with the necessity of your day job. Talk less, drink less, and do more.

What themes or topics do you like to discuss through your art?

At this moment in time, I explore feminist themes, body politics and food, and addiction (to technology, to substances, and to ourselves), all tied to a central theme of seeking joy. Above all, seeking joy.

What are some of the most memorable plays you’ve directed?

I’m still in love with the first play I ever directed, John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo. It’s a strange little script about people who don’t know what to do with their lives. I directed it my senior year of college, so I heavily related. I still do. I had a great cast and creative team, and it was such a dream to see the play come to life. I enjoyed playing maestro to that piece, we created a beautifully dysfunctional world together. Since then, I’ve directed plays in bars, historical buildings, and art galleries. I love a good non-traditional performance space. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with some amazing artists in Cincinnati, San Francisco, New York City, and, of course, in Chicago.

You’re also a comedian. Where do you draw inspiration from to create your material?

Everything can turn into a bit, for better or worse. I draw on my real life experiences (and sometimes the experiences of those around me) and I use comedy to understand them. For me, comedy is a way to find each other in the darkness, following the sounds of laughter until you bump into someone, and you’re not alone anymore.

Can you describe one of your favorite poems that you wrote? Why does this poem stand out more so than the others?

A while ago, I wrote a poem called, Everest: Or, How Do I Get Down, to express my anger about the prevalence of sexual assault in America. I’m particularly proud of this piece because it drew from a different voice inside me. I am constantly using humor to address my fears or the general misery I sometimes feel. In this poem, I faced some intense fears and realities head on, without apologizing for this direct address or for the seriousness of my tone.

What inspired you to write this poem?

The first line of the poem materialized in my head after some terrible injustice against women by politicians emerged in 2013. Take your pick of which one.

Where do you get your ideas for your poems?

I usually start with an image, either real or imagined, that transforms into a metaphor, and I try to use words to describe what I’m seeing.

Do you have plans for a book?

Yes, I just need to take the leap and start sending the manuscript through the proper channels.

What was the last play that you wrote?

I recently completed a draft of a new one woman show about what I’ve learned about life and love from Harrison Ford films. It’s intensely personal and chronicles my romantic life up until this point, while also commenting on my lifelong obsession with movies.

Why did you feel compelled to tell this story? What message did you want to get across to the audience?

Well, lots of creative people have a delusion that their lives are so interesting that audiences should watch us talk about them and clap at the end. I suffer from that delusion. But I make sense of the world and my life through creative expression, whether it’s storytelling, performance art, comedy, poetry, or theatre. So, I suppose it’s mainly that there were (and still are) a lot of things I’m trying to make sense of. I also have an ongoing love affair with Harrison Ford and it’s time the world finds out.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Sitting down and doing it. Shutting off the part of my brain that tells me this is going to be terrible before I even get a word down on paper. Finding the time.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Once you get it down on paper, the weight of the thing is lifted off of your shoulders. And then you can really examine it. You also get to give your thoughts, feelings, and creations to people and make them focus on it for a time.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What is your advice?

Go outside. Tell your block to get out of the way. Go outside again. Come back in. Write, even if it hurts.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I run. I love being in Chicago. I love all the historical buildings, museums, and beautiful energy of the streets. I like to retrace my steps to see where if I’m in the same place I used to be the last time I was here.

What books are you reading now?

I just started Lena Dunham’s memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, I am slowly getting through On the Road, and I’m always in the middle of rereading Leaves of Grass.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

I Want…I Want…I Want Everything I’ve Ever Seen In The Movies (which is a line from Mel Brooks’ The Producers).

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer, theatre director, and comedian? What has been the best compliment?

Some of the best criticism has been that I use too many words. I spend a lot of time “clearing my throat” in my writing. Just get started. Kill your darlings. Don’t be afraid. I’ve also been told that I apologize for myself as a way of trying to express humility. Sometimes humility can take a back seat.

The best compliments are when people tell me that my work is brave or courageous, because that means that something I said or did addressed a fear that they themselves hold deep inside. And now they feel less alone. I also just always want to be told that I’m funny.

Which artists have inspired you while traveling through your journey in the arts?

I am heavily inspired by Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, Tig Notaro, Julia Cameron, and Marina Abramovic, among others. There are so many fantastic people and shows in Chicago that light me on fire constantly. I love when women are confident and creative about telling their truth.

Can you share with us some of your goals for this year?

I hope to finally get my book of writing published. I just started co-curating a monthly performance series for female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism, so my goal is to make it one of the best shows in Chicago. I put a post-it note above my desk on January 1st: “Just Keep Going,” so I’m trying to follow that.

Which of your teachers was the most important? 

I never thrived in any academic setting, in terms of theatre or performance. I got the most support from teachers in other subjects, especially my Latin teachers. They buoyed my confidence in myself, personally and creatively. I felt (and still feel) so believed in, even though I never got cast in a speaking role in high school theatre.

What motto, quote, or saying do you live by? Why?

“The truth is like castor oil: it is bitter to swallow and people don’t want it, so you make them laugh and when their mouths are open, you pour it in.” – Harold Clurman

“Life is a party. All the time. Sometimes you have a bad day, and that just means it’s a bad party. Sometimes you have a good day, and that’s a good party.” – my little brother Billy, when he was 8

“But they are not the Me myself.” – Walt Whitman

Do you have any upcoming projects, tours, events, or announcements that you would like to share with our readers?

I’ll be at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival performing Jesus, Do You Like Me? Please Mark Yes or No., a one woman show at the end of May. I will be in the Minnesota Fringe Festival at the end of July with A Series of Absurdities, a three woman sketch show. And I co-curate Sappho’s Salon, a monthly performance series featuring female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism at Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago every second Tuesday of the month.

Can you tell us where people can find you and learn more about your work? Website, social media, blog, etc.

www.eileentull.com – my general website

https://deployedabsurdism.wordpress.com/ – my website for poetry, writing, general thoughtitude

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eileen-Tull-Performer/134755930063892 – my facebook page

https://twitter.com/Tullie23 – Twitter

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. What final thought and/or message would you like to leave with our readers?

Creativity, empathy, and humor are your most reliable tools. Use ’em.

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Poet Interview: B. Diehl

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a neurotic twentysomething and somewhat of a recluse. Seeing me out in public is like seeing a mythical creature or something. I have a 9-to-5 job, but other than that, I tend to stay inside to read and write. That actually sounds kind of depressing, but I love it. Isolation is where a lot of my inspiration comes from.

When did you first discover your passion for writing?

I actually discovered it around age four or five. It’s awesome: I used to hand-write these short stories on computer paper. I’d write a story, scribble in some artwork with crayons, and staple the pages together. I still have a lot of them. One is called “The Big Bubble That Floated to Florida.” It’s just funny. I didn’t really get into poetry until 2013, but that is what I stick to now.

When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

It’s hard to say when I write, but I write in my bedroom at my parents’ house. It’s the room I grew up in and it’s associated with tons of memories, which really triggers creative thought for me. When you’re a writer, it’s hard to have a set-in-stone schedule because inspiration isn’t usually consistent. I do write at least a little bit on a daily basis, but hardly ever at the same hour. It seems so random. Oftentimes, poems pop into my head at my job. I have to stop what I’m doing to write them down on sticky notes and my co-workers give me weird looks. I never sit down at my computer and say, “Ah, time to get creative.” The poems find me; I don’t find them.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What is your advice?

Some days, I feel like I can write through the blocks. Willpower, at times, can help you surpass it. Other times, not so much. My advice would be to take a walk, read stuff by other poets, and participate in mundane tasks: do laundry or watch some golf on TV. Your brain will be so bored that it’ll start turning absolutely nothing into creative poetry material.

What is your favorite poem that you have written and why?

Probably “Car Trouble.”

What inspired you to write this poem?

I spent most of 2014 being absolutely torn up inside over some girl. I’m a stereotypical Pisces and still a teenager at heart. I could lose my job and my bank account could be drained of everything in it and I’ll get over all of that in a week. But I don’t handle breakups well. When I lose someone, I feel like the world is ending –– and I do mean that literally. “Car Trouble” was the poem I wrote after telling myself, “Just let it all out.” It was painful to write, obviously, but I felt a lot better afterwards.

Where do you get your ideas for your poems?

Personal experience. None of my poems are exactly fictional. The narrator in almost every poem I’ve written is myself. For me, writing poetry is just like keeping a diary, but its more artsy.

Which do you enjoy more: poetry or fiction?

I definitely enjoy both, but I’d say I enjoy poetry more. I have a short attention span.

Do you have plans for a book?

Yeah, I do! It’s being proofread as we speak, by a good friend of mine. And then I’ll be doing some editing and maybe trimming the fat (removing the poems that suck). I’ll be making an official announcement soon.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Like I said, some topics are painful to write about. But you do it anyway for relief and because you know it’ll make for some great literary material. It’s always worth it.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I’d say the best part about being a writer is this: when something terrible happens, I can at least say, “Well, this is unfortunate, but thanks, universe. I can now write an immortal poem.” The best poetry always comes out during my darkest days.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I promote my writing, read work by others writers, hang out with my cats, and eat food.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d say Charles Bukowski because his book, Love is a Dog From Hell, is what initially got me obsessed with poetry. But Bukowski hated everyone, so maybe I’d pick Billy Collins. I mean, Billy Collins is great and he’s also still alive, so that would probably make more sense anyway.

What books are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading Evidence by Mary Oliver. That probably sounds funny because her poetry is so optimistic, whereas mine tends to come off as pessimistic (and, at times, even nihilistic). But I like to cleanse my palate when I can. Mary Oliver is very talented.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Well, even though my first book is a collection of poems, most of them are about my life. My book is called Zeller’s Alley.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

I’d probably be a vocalist in a hardcore punk band. I live for self-expression and I believe that business is the Devil’s work, for the most part. Art is godlike.

Have you attending any poetry readings or writing workshops in your community? If so, can you please describe your experience?

There are so many incredible things always happening in the Lehigh Valley. For anyone who lives nearby, I’d highly recommend checking out Connexions Gallery. I love small places like that. To me, they just make every experience more personal. You feel connected, in a way, to everyone there because the crowds aren’t particularly huge. For a more theatrical experience, you might want to go to Philadelphia.

What motto, quote, or saying do you live by? Why?

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” – Charles Bukowski. I mean, think about it. How much more meaning could a single sentence possibly have? That quote is fantastic.

Do you have any upcoming projects, tours, events, or announcements that you would like to share with our readers?

I’m still figuring out the details of a few upcoming events. To anyone reading, I’d just like to say…please keep in touch with me via social media if you’re interested. I post updates as often as I can.

Can you tell us where people can find you? Website, social media, blog, etc.

My official website will be launched within the next month or two. But I am a total social media addict. Here are my links: facebook.com/B.DiehlPoetry, goodreads.com/iambrandondiehl, twitter.com/iambrandondiehl, instagram.com/iambrandondiehl, & iambrandondiehl.tumblr.com!

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. What final thought and/or message would you like to leave with our readers?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Stay awesome. I will see you soon.

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Cover Reveal: Torrid Literature Journal – Vol. XII Tension

Torrid Literature Journal – Volume XII Tension

Publication Date: October 1, 2014

Genres: Poetry & Fiction

Publisher: TL Publishing Group

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Torrid Literature Journal - Vol. XII Tension


Synopsis:

TL Publishing Group wraps up their 2014 year with the Torrid Literature Journal – Volume XII Tension. The work in this volume flawlessly captures the attractiveness of literature as it presents readers with a fine collection of literary material that will put their senses and imagination to work.

The Volume XII writers shed necessary light on the fact that writing is not a means to an end. It is a start to a new beginning. Writing allows people to clear their heart and mind of the clutter and other matter that tends to build up overtime. In the middle of this clean up, people find hidden treasures and other keepsakes as they linger on a forgotten memory or a favorite dream. Other times, they stumble upon painful experience they’re fighting to escape or a situation they’re struggling to figure out. In any event, writers understand the importance of release and the risks of implosion.

Other highlights from this issue include a new interview with Joanna Kurowska, a writer, teacher, and editor from Evanston, Illinois. Readers will also get a first look at the 2014 winners of the Romancing the Craft of Poetry & Fiction Contest.

Lovers of the written word do not want to miss what the Volume XII writers have to say as they step up to the proverbial platform to share their memories, dreams, and experiences. Rest assured that each piece of literature carries its own weight worth every moment of the reader’s attention.

Contributors: Joanna Kurowska ; Alicia Cook; Antonio Fernandez; W. S. “Eel” Bericuda; Jolene Munch Cardoza; Courtney Leigh Jameson; Matthew J. Spireng; Yongyu Chen; Ivan de Monbrison; A.J. Huffman; April Scott; Clemencio Bascar; Richard Hartwell; Leonore Wilson; Athar Pavis; James Tyler; Helen Companion; April Salzano; Beau Boudreaux; John Repp; Lee Busby; Andrew Bohn; Craig Cochran; Justin Rose; Bobby Teevans; Jeston Dulin; Desirée Jung; Erren Geraud Kelly; Rachel Vogel Quinn; Lorin Cary; Gloria Keeley; Danny Judge; Amy S. Pacini, Jennifer Palmer; Moneta Goldsmith

Excerpt:

“…I know the next time I return will be for her funeral…” – “Repton” by Craig Cochran

“…I’m lost with no escape route…” – “Do They See” by April Scott

“…Wherein does forgiveness reside…” – “Relief” by Richard Hartwell

“…In the autopsy they hide the criminal you became…” – “Quinidine I Know Your Name” by Athar Pavis

“…I try to put my arms around the virtual you in my head…” – “You Are Not Here Yet” by Beau Boudreaux


Torrid Literature Journal – Vol. XII Tension

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Now Accepting Submissions: Interview Requests

We are excited to announce that we will begin a new interview series for our blog. Authors, writers, poets, editors, publishers, and literary agents are welcome to submit an interview request.

All interviews are done via email and they will be published on our blog. To request an interview, please send an email to Alice Saunders at asaunders@torridliterature.com with the following information:

Name*

Email*

Title of book(s)

Bio*

Website, blog, social links, etc.

Author photo

Book cover photo

Please put “Interview Request” in the subject line of the email.

We will review your request and respond within a reasonable timeframe. Please note that we reserve the right to review and reject any interview request. If your request is approved, we will send you a list of customized questions based on your bio, publication history, and any other information we have gathered. Once interviews are posted, they will appear on our Interviews & Guest Posts page where they will remain indefinitely. We will also promote interviews through our social media sites.

 

 

 

*Required

 

 

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