Archives for November 2014

3Ws – Tony Leuzzi

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What do you create?

I write poems: individual poems; poem sequences; series of poems gathered together by theme or form. I started writing (very bad) poems when I was 16 and persisted in the delusion that I could write well until I actually began to write well. I’d say my first really fine poem didn’t come until I was about 26 years old. The next one might have come when I was 30. There were very few successes and a lot of failures. I remember writing a sonnet everyday for several years and getting about three decent poems out of that. Regardless of the high-rate of failure, writing poems was a lot of fun. I kept at it, not really thinking about what I was doing, just doing it. Later, as I got better, I started to mindfully consider an aesthetic, a point of view—those things that distinguish a craftsperson from an artist. It’s hard work, but it remains a lot of fun. I’m currently “at work” on a poem I began in mid-August. I’ve carried it through umpteen versions to its conclusion, but I can’t stop editing it. Occasionally, a poem will announce its arrival immediately, with very little alteration from the first draft. Such poems are usually inspired. Unfortunately, they are rare.

I am also a visual artist, mainly an assemblage artist who builds through collage and erasure. I prefer to work with found objects. Much of what I do as a visual artist is mirrored in how I compose poems, too. That, I suppose, is another story.

Why do you create?

I love making things. I can’t imagine myself not making things.

Why I create is a huge question and if I were to answer it fully, I’d probably need five or six pages. Poet Dorianne Laux once told me most writers as kids didn’t get enough attention or felt they weren’t heard: so much of their creative life is a way to preserve the child they can’t leave behind. Mary Ruefle, another poet, told me there are two kinds of artists: those whose parents encouraged them to carry on the cultural traditions of their families and those who were outcasts that didn’t fit in. I’m definitely the latter. I turned to poetry quite naturally, as an extension of the music I was playing on the piano, and because I was so in love with reading that I needed to try writing literature myself. Reading, writing, assembling collages, playing solo music—those are all solitary pursuits. You can identify with a community of other artists like yourself—read at open mics, attend art openings, play music with others—but the creative act necessitates concentration and, by extension, solitude.

What do you consume?

I am a movie slut. I will watch anything in the big theatres, or on the smaller screens.  I watch Netflix on my iPad at home. I don’t love everything I see equally, and I’m pretty particular about my tastes, but I enjoy CONSUMING movies, just taking them in, along with Youtube postings of my favorite scenes from British, German, Finnish, and Brazilian soaps.

I love music, am a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac. I’m an acoustic jazz and classical music nut as well. I could listen to Rachmanninov’s  “Symphonic Dances” all day. Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” gets me every time—no matter how well or badly it is played. I like consuming more obscure things, too: one of my favorite jazz recordings is an obscure Mal Waldron release from 1969 called Free at Last. Sun Ra, love Sun Ra and his insistence on hailing from Saturn. Space IS the place for that glorious nut job.

I’m an avid, hungry reader. I love reading poetry, am committed to the new poetry being written today. But my first reading pleasures came from encyclopedias and novels. I still love to read both of those genres, too.

Food—I’m a foot nut. Give me a good steak or a fresh lobster right from the ocean. Give me ceviche. Fish steeped in citrus: heaven!

But, largely, I am not much of a high-end consumer. I held onto my last car for thirteen glorious years; I live in the same house I bought a dozen years back; I’m not a clothes horse or purveyor of expensive toys. Most of my discretionary expenses involve buying art on the installment plan, shopping for used books, and frequenting garage sales and flea markets in the summer.

 

Links

A book of my poems came out in March 2014 through Tiger Bark Press. Called The Burning Door, it has received flattering reviews at these places:

http://publishersweekly.com/978-0-9860445-2-6

http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/poetry/05/20/the-burning-door-by-tony-leuzzi/

http://www.brooklynrail.org/2014/06/books/this-instance-of-entrance

I have also been able to speak at length about some of my unusual compositional practices unique to this book, practices that involve formal and experimental creative triggers:

http://www.brooklynrail.org/2014/06/books/occasional-instances-of-confession-tony-leuzzi-with-david-groff

http://www.thebakerypoetry.com/on-writing-fibonacci-and-cadae-poems/

 
Tony’s books can be found at:

 IndieBound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

BAM!

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3Ws – Elizabeth Rosner

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What do you create?

I say this with sincere humility: I aim to create beauty and truth. Which is to say, stories of tragedy and hope, loss and redemption; images of the infinite human longing to connect; silences to acknowledge what cannot be named. My prose and my poetry are sometimes indistinguishable from one another, and in my view that’s a good thing.

Why do you create?

To quote myself (from a poem called “What Matters” from GRAVITY):

I wanted to make something out of nothing,

out of air, words.

The simple truth is that I’ve always felt compelled to express myself artistically — and in nearly every form. At one time or another throughout my life, I’ve at least dabbled with being a dancer, singer, actor, painter, musician. I suppose you could say that eventually I realized writing is my home planet, the place I feel able to be most fully myself. Mind, heart, body and soul.

What do you consume?

I’m greedy for the natural world in its purest sense. Bluegreen water, salt or fresh; beaches and mountains and deserts. Language of many kinds including independent films and live music. Also, lots of green plants! If I could photosynthesize, I would.

Links

 

Goodreads: Elizabeth Rosner

Bio:

Electric City Book Trailer:

 

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3Ws – J. Robert Lennon

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What do you create?

Primarily novels, but also short stories, book reviews, music, and sometimes photographs. I enjoy making neat piles of things, or visually striking arrangements of similar items, like pens, books, eyeglasses, guitars, shirts, shoes, LPs, and packages of food. I like making amusing signs for my office door. Also classroom handouts. Websites. Jokes.

 

Why do you create?

It’s the most fun thing to do, and the thing that makes me most feel like a real person. I don’t have any illusions about my work lasting beyond my own lifetime, or even very long when I’m alive, but I rarely feel happy unless I’m making something.
 

What do you consume?

Well, a lot of internets, that’s for sure. Also, of course, novels. Comics. Music, though less than I probably should as a musician. I burn a fair amount of fossil fuels, both in my travels and indirectly through the various other consumables I have delivered to my house in trucks. I’ve eaten many thousands of eggs and probably drunk tens of thousands of cups of coffee. I also consume a lot of other people’s time while they listen to me talk and talk and talk.

 

Links

Photo courtesy of the author.

 

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3Ws – Michael Storrings

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What do you create?

I create Art that Celebrates.  I hope to capture in my work those memories people share when they travel to cities or celebrate special occasions together.  In my latest book, New York in Four Seasons, I tried to capture many of the events that happen in a year while also chronicling the life that occurs and joy that people feel at those gatherings.  My hope is that people will get lost in the details of my art and relive their own memories.

Some of the various images and people depicted in this book are personal to me—family, friends, places, and most of all, pugs. It’s a Where’s Waldo of pugs, and as you go through the book you will see tucked away in every corner a tan little curly tailed object with a blob of black on its face and ears.

My art career took a turn in 2005 when I started designing Christmas ornaments. Christmas became the vehicle to my voice and allowed me to memorialize places and events. These ornaments are now sold in major retailers across the country. My first book, A Very New York Christmas, depicted these ornaments and is an homage and “thank you” to the city that inspired my line, and my life. It will be rereleased in Fall 2015 with a special insert of punch-out ornaments.

I have recently started to take my work to other product venues, including snow globes, tableware, stationary, and puzzles. I even make prints of my art and hand glitter and sequin each one.  I can actually say I have a glitter studio!

In addition, I also design book jackets. I am the Creative Director at St. Martin’s Press and oversee and design covers.

Why do you create?

I have a codependent relationship with creating things. If I don’t create, I am not myself.

I am lucky to be in a profession and with people that support my addiction. I work full-time as the Creative Director at St. Martin’s Press and design book jackets and oversee the line of 700 plus books per year. When I come home, I work on my art. My careers feed my hunger to create.

It’s a vicious cycle and I love it! Believe it or not it energizes me to be like this.

 

What do you consume?

It sounds gluttonous, but I try to devour and take in everything around me—people, fashion, books, art, typography, emotions, colors, sights, songs, smells, Christmas, pugs, everything and anything in New York.  I’m a spectator; every day is a new event that I am lucky to be privy to.  How good is this?!

Links

Michael has a wonderful holiday giveaway going on right now. Enter here: http://tinyurl.com/mgc5v9r

New York in Four Seasons: http://www.storrings.com/book.html

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3Ws – Greer Macallister

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What do you create?

Words, words, words. Mostly fiction these days, with a smattering of poetry and playwriting here and there. My first novel, The Magician’s Lie, is coming out in January 2015. Which seems either years away or basically tomorrow, depending on the mood you catch me in. The Magician’s Lie is historical fiction, set in 1905, about a female magician whose most famous illusion involves cutting a man in half – a dangerous notion for the time, and one that gets her in hot water when a dead body is found under the stage after her show.

Historical fiction is my focus these days. It’s an enormous pain to write – so much research! – but I just love the idea of drawing the reader into a completely different world. That’s what I enjoy as a reader, so it’s what I try to create as a writer. Something absorbing. Something that takes you away.

Why do you create?

Because I can’t not. There have been a few – maybe more than a few – dark and demoralized times where I’ve thought about quitting writing forever, but they never last. I’ll go to bed Monday swearing I’m never writing again and I’ll wake up Tuesday with a powerful new idea percolating. I’m a fairly practical person, yet it’s exactly when the logical things are going completely wrong – a story gets rejected, some career door closes, a harsh but fair critique comes in – that I often feel most creative. Maybe it’s because when it seems like writing will never lead to recognition or money or any other external validation, I realize that I’d do it anyway, without any of those things. I do it because I love it. Because it’s an itch nothing else can scratch.

 

What do you consume?

Everything in moderation, including moderation. Having kids has changed my consumption habits a lot, as you might imagine. I almost never see movies in the theater anymore, but on the other hand, I’m constantly awake in the middle of the night with the baby, and she doesn’t object to me reading a book, or wandering the interwebs, or streaming Netflix. Some is just entertainment (who knew there were so many seasons of “Chuck”?) and some is research for the next book, and the best stuff checks both boxes. Right now I’m reading Karen Abbott’s Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, which is nonfiction about four female spies in the Civil War, and it’s riveting. I tried streaming the Ken Burns Civil War documentary, but if you’re trying to stay awake at 2 a.m., that’s not the way to do it. It takes something with a little more zing.

Links

 

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3Ws – Stacey Ballis

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What do you create?

I’m primarily a novelist and sometime cookbook author. I write “foodie fiction,” novels with foodie heroines and recipes in the back. My current novel, Out to Lunch, is about a woman who loses her best friend and gains custody of her best friend’s annoying widower. My next novel, Recipe for Disaster, is about a house flipper whose life implodes leaving her jobless, homeless and fiancé-less in one horrible day, forcing her to fend for herself while living in the half-finished ruin of her current construction project. And my new digital cookbook is Big Delicious Life, over 150 recipes in a cool digital format, so a recipe resource right in your pocket! I also cook a lot, which always feels like an act of creation to me.

 

Why do you create?

I don’t breathe so well if I’m not writing something. Whether it is the novels or my blog, The Polymath Chronicles, creating recipes for publication or just for Tuesday dinner, I always feel most at ease in the world if I’m working on something. It is the best expression of my soul that I can imagine. If I’m writing a novel, I’m reaching out to my readers in hopes of touching their hearts, making them laugh. If I’m working on the blog, I’m sharing my life in a much more personal way. If I’m cooking I’m putting my heart on a plate in hopes of bringing someone pure pleasure and sustenance.

 

What do you consume?

Besides chocolate? Books books books, of all types. Contemporary, classics, fiction, non-fiction, mystery, humor, memoir, you name it. I read very quickly, I can read a whole book in a day if I get sucked in, so it helps to have a wide variety of interests. I consume anything related to food and cooking and entertaining, magazines, television shows, cookbooks, cooking equipment catalogs.

I’m a bigger consumer of television than I would like to admit, with a special focus on procedurals, if it is about police work or forensics, I’m pretty well hooked. And at the moment I’m consuming everything related to home improvement and interior design, because my husband and I are renovating our 107 year old home from the basement up, so my brain is very house-centric at the moment.

I’m also trying very hard to be a consumer of time with the people I love, and the people I like a lot. I lost a friend recently in an unexpected and sudden tragedy. She wasn’t one of my best buds, but one of those wonderful “second tier” people who you are so fond of, and always mean to get together with, but sadly let stay on the periphery because life intrudes. Every time we saw each other we laughed and hugged and connected and swore to make plans, and we just never got around to it. Her death made me realize how important it is to actually follow up and follow thru, and so I’ve been reaching out to all the other wonderful people I kept putting off in the name of being busy, and I’m making lunch dates and coffee dates and phone call catch-ups. I hate that I didn’t do it sooner, and that I didn¹t get a chance to do it with her, but I know I honor her memory every time I make room in my schedule for friends. Life is fleeting and precious, and the company of fine people is its greatest pleasure.

Links

Facebook: facebook.com/staceyballis1
Twitter: @staceyballis
Website: staceyballis.com
Blog: thepolymathchronicles.blogspot.com

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3Ws – Renee Swindle

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What do you create?

I create novels.  So far I’ve written Please Please Please, Shake Down The Stars, and  A Pinch Of Ooh La La, which came out in August.

I create quirky and humorous characters–characters with foibles, who usually get in the way of their own best interests. Sometimes my novels lean more on the humorous, like with A Pinch of Ooh La la and other times they’re closer to dramadies. Shake Down The Stars, for instance, dealt with a woman overcoming a major loss and alcoholism, but there was also humor throughout because I can’t seem to help myself.  It was nice to hear that people laughed and cried when reading it.

A Pinch of Ooh La La involves a large multiracial family headed by legendary jazz pianist. The narrator, Abbey, owns her own bakery and is known for her wedding cakes. Her siblings are also artists and musicians, which allowed me to write about music and fine art. And of course there’s also all the baking.

Speaking of… I also create baked goodies. I bake everything from bread to cakes to…you name it. I had a fear about baking for years and years but I’m so glad I forced myself to get over it!

 

Why do you create?

I love the process of writing.  I love waking up early and playing around with my scenes. I love becoming all my different characters and getting to know their world.

I also create in hopes of one day having one or all of my novels adapted to the big screen.  I’d love to play a part in seeing more diverse storylines on the silver screen. Where are the quirky people of color? The oddballs?  I like the idea of a multiracial Juno or The Silver Linings Playbook.

 

 

What do you consume?

Jazz.  I’m a jazz whore!  I love a wide variety of music but there’s something special about the improvisational aspect of jazz and all the sheer talent of the muscians.  And the lyrics to most of the standards are gorgeous.

I’m also a consumer of fine tea–total tea snob here.  And I consume popcorn and movies.  And TV shows like True Detective and The Wire.  I also love art and watching documentaries on artists.

And I consume silence. I meditate every morning. It’s made me a much happier person.

Oh, and books!  Books books books, and more books, please.

Links

Website: http://www.reneeswindlebooks.com

Twitter: @renee_swindle

Facebook: reneeswindlebooks

Pinterest: reneswindle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/276659.Renee_Swindle

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound 

 

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