Feb 19, 2009

Final Part of My Interview With Arlene Ang

Welcome Arlene Ang for her final questions from Savvy Verse & Wit. If you've missed the first two parts of the interview, click here and here. Additionally, you may have missed my review of her chapbook Secret Love Poems. If you have, check it out here. Stay tuned for giveaway details after the interview.

Without further ado, here's Arlene:

7. While reading your chapbook "Secret Love Poems," I noticed that there are five "numbered" Secret Love Poems (13th, 15th, 19th, 22nd, and 24th Secret Love Poems). Were there other numbered secret love poems that did not make the chapbook? If so, why were they not included?

The original plan was to have 69 for a book. I got as far as 35 before running out of gas. When I submitted the manuscript to Rubicon Press, the contents page looked so redundant with 1st Secret Love Poem, 2nd Secret Love Poem, etc that I decided to change most of the titles. Quite a bit of secret love poems are floating out there that weren't included in the chapbook, mostly because they weren't in context with the rest or were still awaiting first publication in a magazine at the time. Also, towards the end, I got a bit creative with the concept and wrote quite a lot of duds.

8. The poems included in "Secret Love Poems" obviously were chosen for their central theme. Were the poems written at the same time (Much like your self-proclaimed obsessions with words or ideas) or over a period of time in spurts?

Oh god, yes. I was obsessed with it -- inspired by Apollinaire's secret poems (check out The 9th Secret Poem) -- for a couple of months. I wrote all 35 in less than 60 days, I think.

9. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any "writing" books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

For many years, I was a member of the Internet Writing Workshop's Poetry-W, a critique group that functions via e-mail. Because participation was a requirement, I was forced to write a poem at least once a week. Then I discovered SaucyVox -- an online writers’ community, now defunct -- which had this challenge to write 30 poems for 30 days together with other people. It was such a fun and inspiring experience that when the site closed down, the members just moved on. Right now, the 30:30 challenge is being hosted by Rachel Mallino at In The Writer's Studio. As much as I hate to admit it, the cure for writer's block is writing. Bookwise, my favorite is still John Drury's Creating Poetry.

10. When writing poetry, prose, essays, and other works do you listen to music, do you have a particular playlist for each genre you work in or does the playlist stay the same? What are the top 5 songs on that playlist? If you don't listen to music while writing, do you have any other routines or habits?

No music, no tv. I get easily distracted. One routine I learned is to start writing as soon as I wake up. Once I start thinking of other things, I'm a goner. When inspired, I usually write in bed with pen and paper. When desperate, and the 30:30 clock is ticking, I type directly on the computer. I also read something like 30-50 poems a day -- between books and online journals -- before writing. It works as a kind of sun salutation for me.

11. What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

Valerie Fox and I might have another poetry book in the making. We're trying to move towards real collaborative writing as opposed to writing poems based on each other's poems. It's rather unexpected since we just had our Bundles (of joy) last year, but we find that once we start writing in 30:30 together, we just go into collaborative writing mode. Another project would be to start updating/revising my full-length manuscript, "Seeing Birds in Church is a Kind of Adieu" for Cinnamon Press. It's scheduled to go into print early 2010.

I want to thank Arlene for spending time with us here at Savvy Verse & Wit, and for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my unusual questions.

***Giveaway Details:

Originally, I had decided to pay for one or two winner to receive a copy of Secret Love Poems.

However, Arlene has generously offered to giveaway THREE copies of her chapbook, Secret Love Poems, to three lucky winners.

The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, since she is in Italy herself, and she will be mailing out the copies. She's such a doll, and she likes to mail things.

Deadline is FEB. 26, Midnight EST.

1. Leave a comment, ask a question, just don't use the trite: "Please enter me" or "pick me" comments.

2. If you blog about the contest, refer someone to the contest and they drop your name, or whatever, leave me a link or comment about it and you will get another entry.

***This Just In, there are now FIVE copies of Secret Love Poems available for the giveaway, courtesy of Arlene*** Enter away!


Jenners said...

Wow! You guys really made a connection ... this was a great series of interviews. I love when writers give advice on writing ... and the basic theme seems to be "just write!" I know some people who might be interested in these poetry writing sites so I'm going to try and pass these on to them.

Great job! And these interviews did make me curious about the poems so if I was to just happen to win a giveaway or something, it would be really coo (you know what I'm saying?)

Great job!

Marie Cloutier said...

Great interview. What poets, especially contemporary poets, does she admire and who among the old masters influences her the most?

Serena said...

Jenners: I'm glad you liked the interviews.

Marie: great question. I may have to ask her that one.

Arlene said...

Hi Jenners and Marie! I'm so thrilled that you like the series. Serena certainly asks the most interesting questions!

I've been lurking around like a stalker... but Serena mentioned it's all right to come out of the closet and answer Marie's question.

Offhand, I'd say CD Wright and Anne Carson... because every time I read their poetry, I learn something new.

When it comes to formal poetry, especially sonnets, my favorite remains Ros Barber. She has some great ones in her book, "How Things Are on Thursday."

When it comes to dead poets, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell. Probably Shakespeare, too because I started with him.

Anna said...

I've been dying to read this book ever since you showed me that one poem the other weekend. I've really enjoyed these interviews. I'll list the giveaway in my sidebar.

Diary of an Eccentric

Iliana said...

Thank you so much for these interviews with Arlene. It's been so interesting to read about her writing process and the poems of course. I'm still in awe that she was able to write them all in 60 days!

Please drop my name in the hat! :)

Jeannie said...

What a generous giveaway. Thank you, Ms. Ang, and thank you, Serena.

I've enjoyed this interview very much, and appreciated how it was in segments. I have a short attention span. I also have a great love of poetry and so I checked out the Arlene Ang website. I just love the poems! They are so vivid and imaginative!! This book is right up my alley.

Serena said...

Arlene: Lurking like a stalker. LOL I can't believe it. Thanks for the other poet names for me to check out! Woohoo.

Anna: I'm glad you were intrigued enough to enter the contest. Thanks for posting it in your sidebar.

Iliana: I cannot believe that she wrote them all in that short a period of time either.

Jeannie: I am so glad that the segmented format worked. I hope everyone liked it.

Jeannie said...

I posted about your giveaway at my blog:

A Very Cool Giveaway

teabird said...

Anne Carson! I rarely see her mentioned as an influence. Now I know I want to read your poems -

This was a wonderful interview!

teabird 17 at yahoo dot com

Serena said...

Jeannie: Thanks for posting the giveaway

Teabird: Thanks for entering the contest.

Ladytink_534 said...

No need to enter me I just wanted to drop by and say that I loved your interview questions!

The Bookworm said...

great interview post! Secret Love Poems sounds awesome, and I like the cover.


Debs Desk said...

What a fantastic interview. I have a question about inspiration. What is your inspiration? Is it a person, place or thing. All my inspiration comes from my 4 Chihuahuas, they make me laugh all the time.

Please include me in your drawing.

Serena said...

Ladytink: Glad you like the questions.

Naida: I loved the cover, which is why I had to ask if she had a hand in picking it out.

Debdesk: I'll see if Arlene has time to come back and answer your question.

FatalisFortuna said...

Great giveaway! I like poetry, but it's hard for me to find new poems I like. These look perfect!

Bridget said...

Hi! I've posted this on Win A Book. Don't enter me in the contest, though.

Unknown said...

Great interview, I LOVE poems and her book sounds amazing and I can't believe she wrote 35 poems in less then 60 days wow! I'd love to know what her favorite author or book is.

Serena said...

Bridget: Thanks for posting the giveaway.

Amanda: She is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Great in-depth interview! I especially enjoyed hearing about the process of selecting cover art for Secret Love Poems. I am a fan of The Pedestal Magazine as well as the chapbook form. And I admire Ang for keeping so many balls in the air: writing, collaborating and editing.

Serena said...

Bernadette: Thanks for stopping by and checking out the interview. Shall I throw your name in the hat to win a copy of her chapbook?

Meg89 said...

I love that you prefaced this giveaway with an interview--I need to come up with a more creative way to conduct my giveaways!

Arlene said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments everyone!

4 Chihuahuas sound like pure inspiration, Debbie. My inspiration is probably my dad. He was an artist who painted almost every day — and loved every moment of it. He taught me that if you wait for inspiration it will never come, that it is only when you're writing that inspiration comes. Didn't believe him until I did it.

AmandaSue, that's a difficult question. I do remember that at the time I was writing Secret Love Poems, way back in 2005, I was high on Robert Rehder's "The Compromises Will Be Different." Right now, my favorite is probably CD Wright's "Steal Away."

By the way, I love the review of Tomato Girl on your blog, Anna! I nudged Jayne about it, and she's linked to your blog from hers (http://jaynepupek.blogspot.com/).

Serena said...

Arlene: Thanks for stopping by and answering questions. I know the readers appreciate it.

Serena said...

Meg: I just try different things occasionally, sometimes they are successful. I think it just takes experimentation.

Keyo said...

wow..this is so lovely. very interesting interview. I loveee poetry..and am very particular about the ones i like. thanks for sharing this with us all.

Keyo said...

btw..i write poems myself..they are too personal...or else i wud post them toO! the giveaway is lovely!!

Serena said...

Keyomi: poetry is a good outlet, keep at it. Thanks for entering.

KR said...

Thanks for sharing The Ninth Secret Poem. If that's where toy got your inspiration, I'm in!

darbyscloset said...

Besides telling you that I'd love a copy of this book, I'd like to know what makes a love poem a "secret love poem"?
Thanks so much,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Liz said...

Hi Serena and Arlene,

Loved the interview - I've been reading Arlene's poems for a few years now and she never fails to astound and inspire - what she does to poetry gives goose-bumps to the legs (and all over)with delight...one of my fav. all-time poets - I could gush over her poems till the proverbial-cows come home...will hush-up now, though... ; ) thanks : )

Serena said...

MJ: Glad to hear it.

Darby: great question...wish I had thought of it.

Liz: Thanks for gushing. I'm sure Arlene appreciates it. I just love her poems...

Sage Ravenwood said...

Whenever I hear of love, t's described as a many splendored thing. However being a survivor of Domestic Abuse it takes on a subtle different meaning. My question would be this - Could you see poetic sense in describing that type of love, the lack of normalcy, wishing, wanting something more? I guess to me love is safety, composure, just a gentle echo of words. Do you see this as a something that could be a form of poetry, these words of a survivors hopes?

As I said, I am a survivor and having said that would enjoy seeing the beauty of love in prose. In short may I please be entered for your book giveaway. (Hugs)Indigo

Serena said...

Indigo: As a poet myself, I can totally see a need for that voice in poems, particularly those about love. If you write, I say keep on writing about it...it can be cathartic and expand the genre. Consider yourself entered into the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

I admire poets. The writing is so exacting. You can't fake anything.

Anonymous said...

I need some poetry in my life and certainly a book of such on my bookshelf. (is that a decent enough comment over 'Pls enter me'?)
or perhaps:
"Roses are red,
Violets should be mauve,
(hey - what rhymes with mauve?)
Violets are not pink,
I'd love to win some poetry,
I need some, I think!"

Serena said...

Annie: Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest.

Care: you are too cute. The first comment would have been fine, but I loved the second poetic one too.

Arlene said...

That's an interesting question, Darby! A secret love poem can either mean a love poem written in secret — something you wouldn't share with your loved one for many reasons — or a poem on a secret love affair, imaginary or not. It was fun playing with these various aspects in the book.

Indigo, of course. Poetry is a way to explore and express feelings and situations — be it a survivor's hopes or the love one has for one's children. Now that I think of it, many of the poems in SLP desire more from the relationship and yet avoid the actual physical contact. Are you familiar with the American poet, Sapphire? She writes about domestic violence in a way that just leaves you raw and aching. You might like her. I love your blog, by the way, and have bookmarked it.

Thanks, Liz!! You're a darling! Maybe I'll see you here once your book is out come September. **nudgenudgewinkwink to Serena — Liz got a book contract from Salt Publishing; my eyes still glaze every time I think of it**

Serena said...

Arlene: great answers. Sapphire sounds like a poet with a powerful pen. I may have to check her work out as well.

As for Liz, no need to nudge, just pop a review copy in the mail, and I will get to it! Reviews, interviews, giveaways, you name it! :) I'm always eager to help out fellow poets.

Liz said...

Just a quickie to say I've blogged about this...and Arlene, huggers for mentioning 'miracle'...and Serena, will do, most defo, thanks : )

Serena said...

Liz: I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for blogging about the contest, that gets you an extra entry!

gautami tripathy said...

I do have a question:

I as a poet can write anything under this earth but love poetry does not come easy for me. I hate the mushiness of most love poetry.Why are love poems so difficult to write?

I am always looking out for poetry books. So I might as well be considered for the draw!


Thanks Serena, for directing me here!

Serena said...

Gautami: I figured everyone's google reader is out of control, so I could prompt you to enter since I know you love poetry as much as I do.

As for love poetry, I have the same issue. It will be interesting to see what Arlene has to say.

Blodeuedd said...

Would love to enter this one, and yay international, that means me too :)

Blogs are sure for me the way to find more new authors and books to read, and love.

I fell in love with poems when we read WWI poets in class, so real and sad. But I do love all the rest too

Serena said...

Blod: Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest. Its time to expand your horizons.

Nely said...

I just passed on through and couldn't help but read what a fantastic interview you guys had.

I'll confess I don't read any poems but Arlene seems great and I would definitely love to read her work so please enter me in your giveaway.

Arlene said...

Interesting question, Gautami! I'm not partial to mushiness in love poems either. It's probably all the hormones working overtime. When it comes to writing poetry my guess is there should be a balance between emotion and aesthetics, soul and mind. Maybe it works like a doctor/patient relationship -- if you're too close to the subject, it's hard to remain unsentimental about it.

And thanks, Nely, for the kind words. It always gives me an extra happiness point whenever someone who doesn't read poetry or even like it gets interested enough to read mine!

Unknown said...

Wow, I can't believe she was able to write that many poems in 60 days. That was one heck of a productive streak. I wish my muse would stick around for that long!

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Serena said...

Janel: She is pretty amazing!

Serena said...

Arlene: Great answer...exactly what I was thinking...but you said it much better than I could have. Bravo. Have a great trip to Manila and we will "see" you in March!

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the heads up Serena...I realized that I didn't enter this one yet! lol

I love how she is able to discipline herself to write as soon as she gets up...I think that would be my problem!

As you know, I blogged about your contest here.

Anonymous said...

Once again I'm impressed with the depth of your interviews, Serena.

I'd love to have my name entered in this giveaway. I need to step outside my comfort zone and read more poetry ... thanks for introducing us to Arlene.

Anonymous said...

Poetry takes me to places unseen
Whenever I'm down or in-between
Please accept my entrant fee
I am on bended knee
Thanks for the giveaway
I wish you a wonderful day
If you can please send my way
That's all I have for today.

Thank you. TGIF!!

Serena said...

Sorry, Feda, you missed the deadline.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed reading your interviews with this author - she seems very fun and sincere. :)

Your interview has been added to About the Author - An Author Interview Index! ~ Wendi

Serena said...

Wendi: I'm glad that you enjoyed this interview, even if it was in parts! She is great to work with.