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  • AD 000 on 000 Permalink | Reply  

    As one of the chauffeurs for the &Now 2011 festival, I had the opportunity to observe and speak with several of the featured writers. On Friday, Dr. A—this talented writer wishes to remain anonymous—still had not finished his presentation when I picked him up at the airport baggage terminal. Dr. A typed all the way to the hotel, his fingers a veritable blur against the laptop keyboard. He then asked for a last minute pickup so that he could shower and continue to write his presentation, which was due less than two hours later. Although worried about cutting things too close, I fancy myself something of a dragster and so agreed to the almost impossible schedule. Slaloming along Torrey Pines Road in rush hour traffic frayed my nerves, but Dr. A retained his aplomb despite creative weaving and an impromptu U-turn due to a BMW owner’s reluctance to risk his new car on a left. Each time we rounded a corner, Dr. A’s laptop shifted from side to side. Like a pro, he calmly leaned into each curve, the clatter of fingers upon keys never abating. Yes, Dr. A proved himself a veritable James Bond of writers, impervious to threats, never faltering in his goal!

    After careening to a stop in our secret reserved parking space, we exited the car in a rush of limbs, and dashed through several buildings. When we finally skidded to a stop in front of the auditorium, I felt sorely out of breath, but no perspiration marred Dr. A’s noble brow, nor was a stitch out of place on his athletic frame. Needless to say, his presentation proved both professional and highly entertaining. Perhaps we could add a course, LTWR 007, to the creative writing curriculum and lure Dr. A here to teach it.

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  • AD 000 on 000 Permalink | Reply  

    Acting as one of the chauffeurs for the Festival allowed me to meet several wonderful featured writers. One of the feature writers that I met while acting as one of the chauffeurs for the Festival (see my 007 story above) is a talented poet and writer who I call Dr. A, as he wishes to remain anonymous. Although extremely busy, Dr. A took my list of questions with him on his flight, and mailed his answers to me after he returned home. I hope you enjoy his answers and humor as much as I have.

    Q: Are you writing/hoping anyone’s going to read – what’s your relationship to accessibility for larger audiences vs. small nice audiences?
    A: I do not think of audiences with the word “hope” attached, at least in terms of who or what will read the work. I hope to endure and play in the process of writing.

    Q: How do you write for money on a deadline with no inspiration?
    A: I guess one does this–seems strange, really

    Q: Do writers think about demographic as they are writing a novel, in order to make more money?
    A: Who knows? I went to school to develop a complex skill set–to create a path for making work, poetry, etc. Not sure what other writers think.

    Q: Is it easier to get your second piece published than it was to get your first in print?
    A: Who knows? What’s easier? I published two books almost at the same time.

    Q: Does the digital media/internet change or impact your writing?
    A: Yes, as I use many forms of digital media for practical and experimental projects.

    Q: How do you know if you are being cheated out of a decent advance?
    Oh please–this question is strange–not for poets?Maybe– I don’t make poems for $$$

    Q: What do you know now about writing that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
    A. That it is crazy to think about a first book while in grad school–usually those first books are too close to the MFA/PhD arc lame.

    Q: What is the biggest mistake or regret about your career?
    A: The process evolves. I hate this question as I am in my career, not after!

    Q: Tell us about themes you prefer to write about and why you feel its important to address them.
    A: See books–Race (look in the mirror), class (smile in the night), sexuality (get twisted in the sack).

    Q: What advice do you give writers about getting an MFA versus other avenues for finding publishers?
    A: Just make great work and real–if you’re seeking a publisher, now, you must be confident or hardheaded.

    Q: Describe strategies of building communities with writers and other innovators. How are you able to work across disciplines?
    A: Find the smart people. I look in many places.

    Q: As a writer, how much time do ou spend writing vs. promoting what you’ve already written?
    A: I don’t promote my work. I write. I teach. I travel and share.

    Q: How do you feel about collaborative work? Do you do it? Do you rule it out? Collaborative novels or poetry books?
    A: See Black Took Collective

    Q: What is the reality of the publishing industry today?
    A: The sky is blue or gray or black or not.

     
  • AD 000 on 000 Permalink | Reply  

    I had the privilege of meeting Duriel Harris during the festival. She is an extremely talented poet, and a very nice person. I enjoyed both her presentation, and her conversation, and am very grateful that such a busy lady took the time to answer some questions for our blog. I am also including a question that she answered during our ride to the airport. It concerns how she became a poet.

    Q: For Expert writers – are you writing/hoping anyone’s going to read – what’s your relationship to accessibility for larger audience vs. small nice audience.

    A: I write with an imagined present and future public in mind. In the initial phase I compose without the awareness of an outside audience (anyone other than myself). Returning to the work in revision—re envisioning it—I consider how the work might communicate to and/or create experience for others. I generally imagine someone intelligent and thoughtful, someone willing to enter the space of poetry/language art, someone who wants to encounter other human beings.

    Q: What do you know now about writing that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

    A: I wish I had been aware of the degree to which relationships with other poets mattered for my own edification and for publication.

    Q: Would you share some specific techniques and useful habits to “get your writing going” to get inspiration?

    A: I freewrite quite a bit. I also read work by other writers. I’m most inspired by good/great writing so when courting inspiration I read until I find poems, stanzas, lines, phrases that teach me something, that are unexpected and draw me into a way of thinking/experiencing that I did not anticipate, that take me out of myself and encourage me to reconsider what I know and/or believe about a subject or a mode of being. Sometimes (less often than I should) I go for a walk or bike ride and take in the natural (and not so natural world). I often find inspiration from film so at times I Netflix binge.

    Q: How do you feel about collaborative work? Do you do it? Do you rule it out? Collaborative novels and collaborative poetry books?

    A: Collaboration is exciting. I most often like to collaborate across disciplines though as a poet I would like to collaborate with a fiction writer and/or a nonfiction writer to interrogate and push at/against the boundaries of genre. My most recent collaborations have been with a video artist and a master of traditional Japanese music. Thrilling.

    Q: What do you do to self-promote/market your work?

    A: I tend to share my work publicly to market it. I am also now cultivating an email campaign list and updating interested folk via email blasts. A website is also on the “to do” list. I’m on my 5th web designer/developer, though. I need to really focus on that project soon.

    Q: How do you protect your work, do you copyright it or? How and when?

    A: I tend to register copyright for poems closer to manuscript stage. Music and sound recordings, however, I register as soon as they’re reasonably complete/finished.

    Q: How did you decide to become a poet?

    Answer written down after the fact by April Decker: Said she wanted to be an engineer in college, but had a great deal to work through and get out. She started writing and acting, published some poems in a feminist campus paper and one that centered upon Black issues. When it came time to make a choice, Duriel thought that acting would force her to depend upon others and was difficult because of the race factor, not so much in getting jobs afterwards as in the classes and work at college. She felt that writing would give her more control and freedom of expression.

    Duriel received excellent reviews on her first book, and is happy with her decision to wait, and not publish her Master’s thesis, which she wrote at 23. She stated that she is very happy with this decision, as she feels that her work has benefited from added time and experience. This way, she does not have to worry about early pieces floating around that she might not now want to be part of the public record.

    Duriel stated that she became interested in performance art because there is only so much a poet can do with any given poem–only so many times it can be reworked before it starts to become boring. Although that poem might still hold significance for other readers, Duriel feels that the work must also retain immediacy and significance for its creator.

     
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