Michelle although I have never published you, I wanted to interview you on the BAP blog because I dug some poems you posted up on Ron Androla's board (Pressure Press). How do you feel about poetry communities and sharing your work online this way?
I am all for poetry communities, especially if I can test out a poem before, say, reading out loud at a poetry reading. I love and appreciate the feedback-- especially if people are honest. It's like a workshop.
The poems in the forum I mention above are about "cooking". Is food one of your muses?
Food is a recent muse because I have been honing my skills in the kitchen. To me, there is something poetic about the preparation of food and the heat involved and the measuring and the smell and the toothpick-test. "Oven" is a poetic word to me. Although I say food is a recent muse, when I read old poems of mine (poems I keep in a "poems that need work" folder), I notice that I did mention fruit a lot.
Poems that need work folder....That is interesting. How do you know they need work? Were they rejected by an editor or did you decide they were not working for you at some point?
When a poem isn't working, I won't even submit it anywhere. Usually the
ones that "work" are the ones I get while standing in front of the bathroom
mirror with a book (any book) in my hand. I "talk" the poem first and then I
write it down. I can tell when a poem isn't working—if I'm "talking" it and I
keep stuttering and stopping; I will write it down anyway and put it away in the
Well I want to see one of the poems. Would you please share one of these "not working" poems with us?
Have you thought about treating this poem as a concoction (a witch's spell?) or even a recipe
instead? It seems to me that is the direction it wants to go in. I did see some ingredients (words/phrases) that could be removed and maybe other ingredients may be replaced or have less of.
Ooh, treating it as a witch's spell or a recipe— I can see that. Are you saying this poem sounds like it is more of a "how to" than a poem?
It sounds like a "wash this man right out of my hair" poem to me. If you come up with a revision, let me know. In the meantime what other plans do you have for your poetry this year?
Ha, you are giving me tons of ideas. I just might work on that
revision. Hmm, as for poetry plans: I plan to submit more poems and work on
a chapbook. Usually, I'll write a poem and read it at this poetry reading
the library in town holds once a month. I've been told that I am not
ambitious enough when it comes to my writing, so I'll work on submitting
more and writing more, too.
Before we wrap this up, do you have a question for me or do you have an answer to a question which I did not ask?
I always wondered if poems inspired you to paint and/or if you've painted something and then got a poem from that? I would love to have the talent of both writing AND painting. It would be like muse overload to me and I'd love that!
A poem never inspired me to paint. People inspire me. Someday your painting will be added to the list.
Michelle McEwen lives, dreams, and writes in central Connecticut. A very northern girl with very southern parents, she has plenty material for poetry. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and has had poems published in the Best New Poets 2007 anthology and online at bigcitylit.com and umbrellajournal.com.