Now that NaPoWriMo 2012 is over (whew!), I want to continue a conversation about NaPoWriMo and about writing poems with a handful of poets I admire.
First of all, I’d like to welcome Andrew Shattuck McBride as my first interviewee on this writer’s blog.
Hey, that’s me! Thank you. It’s great to be here!
Please provide us with a short bio (up to you; say, 50 words or so?)
I write and edit. I’m anthologized now, have a short story published in WhatcomWrites!, and poems published or forthcoming in Platte Valley Review, Caesura, Magnapoets, Shamrock Haiku Journal, Mu: An International Haiku Journal, and several others. My poem “Grace” won a merit award in the 2012 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Oops, that’s 51.
Well, 54 actually.
What does it mean to participate in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo)? What is its significance for you?
This was my first NaPoWriMo. It means commitment to writing each day, no matter what. It means focusing on production of new material and posting this new material – new poems – daily. Finally, it is a public statement that – in posting new poems – I am a writer and that I trust my readers. I received an enormous amount of “likes” and positive comments, and I am grateful for this feedback and validation.
Did you use prompts? Did you use one or more prompters?
Yes, I did. I used prompts from Maureen Thorson (NaPoWriMo), Robert Lee Brewer (“Poetic Asides”) , Jennifer Bullis (Her workshop group), and Kelly Russell Agodon (“Book of Kells” and her feature on Midge Raymond’s blog). On a few days I knew I wanted to write a certain poem, and so didn’t need a prompt on those days.
What was your favorite prompt?
My favorite prompt was from Maureen Thorson; read it here.
Maureen’s prompt on Day 10 was to use another poet’s first line. Her prompt led me to Kathleen Flenniken’s magnificent new collection Plume: Poems by Kathleen Flenniken and the first line of her poem “Museum of a Lost America.” I was inspired to write “Museum of a Lost Family” and then to begin mining a rich vein of material from my life with and without my family.
Please describe your writing process.
I sit down and write. Daily is ideal. I write in longhand at first, until I have a version of the piece which I feel is ready for typing into my computer for further revision. I enjoy writing in the morning or any time of the day that is relatively quiet.
I keep my various projects in mind, and I review calls for submissions in Poets and Writers Magazine and the Creative Writers Opportunities List (a Yahoo Group) regularly. I especially appreciate themed calls, because I might be inspired to rework something older or write something entirely new.
As far as NaPoWriMo, workdays were especially tricky and I ended up working on my day’s poem very late at night!
What are your plans for your NaPoWriMo 2012 poems?
Nearly all of my NaPoWriMo 2012 poems need (require?!) additional work. I really like the fact that I have 30 decent starts of poems which may fit somewhere, sometime in the future.
More specifically, I wrote a handful of cobalt blue-related poems which may go into a cobalt blue-themed chapbook. The poems I wrote about various family objects could go into a collection featuring “Museum of a Lost Family” type material.
I was excited to share “Life’s longing for itself” on Facebook with the film which inspired it, “Welcoming Clyde.” View the video and read the poem here.
Finally, I was very excited to have an editor accept my Marianne Moore-like poem “Great Blue Heron”! It’s forthcoming this summer.
Will you share one of your poems with us? [please provide link.]
Certainly. Please click on the link above for TWO poems: “Life’s longing for itself” and “Welcome, Clyde!” I especially like “Life’s longing for itself” because it tied in some observations I’d made while walking and while attending a poetry reading with my thoughts about “Welcoming Clyde,” a beautiful film from Pam Kuntz. Oh, watch the video, too!
Two poems? Show-off!
Well, no. Actually, self promotion…. Just sayin’.
Will you participate in NaPoWriMo 2013? If so, will you do anything differently?
At this point, yes – I’m planning on participating in NaPoWriMo 2013. My writing production of poems and other pieces improved dramatically this April. NaPoWriMo builds community, and leads the poet to commit to writing at least one poem a day, so it’s vital! At this point, I don’t know what I’ll do differently. Start earlier each day?!
Please share your favorite advice for writers:
From another person
“Write for at least 15 minutes every day.” ~ Priscilla Long, A Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life (2010); “Write at least 1,000 words a day.” ~ Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers (2002). I highly recommend both of these books. Note: See Priscilla Long’s chapters on building a personal lexicon and crafting sentences. Carolyn See is funny and kind, and her book is filled with great advice.
Me? LOL OK. Write every day. Make it a personal appointment with yourself. Use Natalie Goldberg’s “Wild Mind” timed-writing exercises and mine the resulting material. Journal and mine the resulting material. Read. Read some more! Write first, though.
Get your poems to the point where you are happy with them and send them out. Our job as poets and writers is to share our work. We do this by attending open mic events and listening to other poets and reading our poems. We do this by offering our work to editors. We do this by self-publishing our work if we must. When you receive a rejection letter, read it and save it. Don’t take it personally; there are any number of reasons why your poems were not accepted. If there is any advice in the letter from an editor, this is huge! Consider it, and act on it if it resonates with you. Send thank you notes. Finally, ask for allies in your writing.
Please share what you can and are willing to about your current project.
Which one?! Poetry? OK. I have two chapbook manuscripts, Grief as Singing the Cobalt Blues and Sequencing Fairhaven: Poems. Take the first one: I may refashion the title and add my NaPoWriMo 2012 poems to it and re-create it as a cobalt blue-themed chapbook.
Is it possible that I may be able to collect a variety of these poems – the strongest ones, of course! – in a larger collection? Certainly. Please stay tuned!
Did your participation in NaPoWriMo help you with your project, directly or indirectly?
Definitely! I think that my poetry is deeper and richer from the prompts, because these led to work I would have expected further into my future as a writer. Directly – yes, since I wrote poems which fit within that project. Indirectly – yes, because all of my writing helps me become a better writer.
Any last comments?
Thank you for this opportunity, Andrew.
Hey, I have one last question: WHY do you use “Andrew Shattuck McBride”? Is that your full name?
LOL Thank you for asking. Yes, that’s my full name. I use Andrew Shattuck McBride because I am bemused at how many people named Andrew S. McBride are out there. I wanted to set myself apart as a writer and to a lesser extent, as an editor.
Thank you Andrew.
Thank you for inviting me.