Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California, where she enjoys exploring the tidepools and redwoods with her dogs and foster dogs. Read some of her recent poetry in Vastarien, Penumbric, and the Deadlands. Find her fiction in She Walks in Shadows from Innsmouth Free Press, Nox Pareidolia from Nightscape Press, and the Nightscript series. She’s online at www.ameliagorman.com.
Tell us about your new chapbook, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota. How did the idea of using invasive species to explore the connection between ecology and human nature come to you?
When I started (and finished) writing this book I was living in a very small apartment in downtown Minneapolis with my husband and our two dogs. So it seemed really important to get out and to green spaces in my free time when I could. The Twin Cities area is really great for that, with a state park and a national wildlife refuge right on the train line, and of course all the lakes. And like a lot of writers I was of course writing about what I was seeing.
The first couple I wrote weren’t imagined as part of a bigger project, they were just some fun little story-poems. I liked writing about invasive species because they turned the purpose of a lot of standard field guides on its head — the ones that are about helping you spot desirable species. They don’t take into consideration many of the plants and animals you actually see, since typically the nature spaces we enjoy aren’t truly a wilderness, they’re all some degree of impacted. Choosing only invasives became a way to write about real climate change, real ecological concerns but also tell these very misfit, weird stories.
A couple of weeks ago, I escaped from the routines of my everyday life and disappeared into the woods for four days.Â As the video above explains, the intention of the trip was to shape a small writing retreat for myself. I packed up some pens, notebooks, my laptop, and printouts of a poetry project (along with some books and art and mediation supplies).
The goals of the retreat were low-key:
Disconnect from social media, the internet, and other distractions that fill my time with mental clutter.
Rest, relax, and rejuvenate through reading, walking among the trees, and meditation.
Sonya Vatomsky is the author of poetry collection Salt Is For Curing (Two Dollar Radio) as well as chapbooks My Heart In Aspic (Porkbelly Press) and And the Whale (Paper Nautilus). A digital alchemist, their creative output ranges from mini-documentaries for the CDC to reported features in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Smithsonian Magazine. Sonya is a member of the Cheburashka Collective, a group of female and non-binary writers from the Soviet diaspora, and lives in Manchester, UK. Find them by saying their name five times in front of a bathroom mirror or at sonyavatomsky.com and @coolniceghost.
Congratulations on publishing your new chapbook, And the Whale. Can you tell us a bit about the project and how it came into being?
Thank you! So, the bulk of the poems were written in late 2015 and throughout 2016, though I didn’t actually assemble the manuscript until 2019. It’s always strange to talk about the “about” of poetry, because so much of the medium’s magic is cupping it into your own hands and breathing life into it, but the poems in And the Whale are — to me, anyhow — about two things.
One, about the death of a dear friend. About death and loss and grief and the foreverness of sorrow.
And two, about coming out as non-binary the same year I released my full-length book Salt Is For Curing, which was about finding power as a woman after sexual assault.
Meg Johnson is the author of the books Inappropriate Sleepover (The National Poetry Review Press, 2014), The Crimes of Clara Turlington (Vine Leaves Press, 2015), and Without: Body, Name, Country (Vine Leaves Press, 2020). Without: Body, Name, Country was nominated for the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards. Her writing has appeared in Bust Magazine, Hobart, Ms. Magazine, Nashville Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Sugar House Review, Verse Daily, and others.Â
The official launch of my new chapbook is only 14 days away! As I sit here waiting for the exciting day, I decided to make a video showing off my author copies of Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale. I also talk a bit about the original â€œTwelve Dancing Princessesâ€™ story and how it inspired me to start writing these poems.
I continue to be amazed and humbled by the kind things people are saying aboutÂ Twelve, such asÂ this reviewÂ on The Biblioshelf:
“InÂ Twelve, Andrea Blythe manages to pull off a modern retelling in spectacular fashion whilst retaining the elements of fairytales and storytelling which all of its fans love. Taking each sister one by one, Blythe dedicates each of the Twelve Princesses with their own unique voice and identity giving fresh substance and purpose to the once subservient, archaic damsels-in-distress in search of their prince.â€
Preorders the book are still open atÂ Amazon,Â B&N, andÂ Indiebound. And, if youâ€™re the giveaway loving sort, then you might like to know that Interstellar Flight Press is currently offering aÂ chance to win copiesÂ ofÂ TwelveÂ over on Goodreads.