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Interviews

“From the sentence to the world” : A Conversation with David Naimon

Over the course of her extraordinary career, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote dozens of books that explored the essential issues of our time, including gender, race, and the degradation of the environment. David Naimon is the host of the radio show and podcast, Between the Covers, which features exceptional interviews with some of the most important writers of our time. When Naimon and Le Guin met for his show, it’s no surprise that their discussions were insightful and unforgettable, and they’ve now been collected into a new book, Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, published by Tin House Books. I previously interviewed Naimon for Burning House Press, and he was kind enough to speak with me again about his bond with Le Guin, how she impacted his life, and how their new book carries on her radical legacy.

–Caitlin, Nonfiction Editor for Burning House Press

 

Burning House Press: It’s impossible not to mention the circumstances under which this book is coming out, with Le Guin passing away shortly before its publication. You write a heartfelt and moving “In Memoriam” at the beginning of the book. How are you holding up as you—and the literary world at large—continue to grieve? How has it been to launch this book without her?

 

David Naimon: This is such a hard question to answer Caitlin. It was just a matter of days after Ursula had handed over her final edits of the manuscript when she passed away. It happened so suddenly that at first I was just stunned, paralyzed. But then, quite quickly, because Tin House pushed up the publication date from July to April I was swept up in the whirlwind of an accelerated publication schedule. I had no idea just how much work there would be between then and now, the In Memoriam that they needed on short notice at a time when I felt like I had no words for what was happening, and then several essays about Ursula that I was asked to write, to be published in concert with the launch of the book. On the upside, I’ve been steeped in a deep engagement with what Ursula meant to me and to the world. But I haven’t had a moment to be with my feelings, to experience them fully. The public memorial for Ursula is not until June. The city and state, which she has influenced in so many ways, has not had the chance to mourn her as a community yet. I could’ve used something like that, something public, communal, back in January. Now, with the book out, there are no launch events planned. It felt strange to do that without her. I didn’t want to be the focal point of a launch party. But, on the other hand, perhaps a launch event could’ve been a first moment of public remembrance.

Continue reading ““From the sentence to the world” : A Conversation with David Naimon”

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Jo Tinsley: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon

Jo Tinsley is the founder and editor of Ernest Journal – “an independent magazine for the curious and adventurous”. She is also the co-author of two books, The Odditorium: The tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors whose obsessions changed the world and The Mysterium: Unexplained and extraordinary stories for a post-Nessie generation, and editor of Waterfront, a magazine celebrating a connection with water for the Canal & River Trust. Somehow, she also finds time to work as a freelance writer and curator. Continue reading “Jo Tinsley: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon”

Mulure Mike: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon

Mulure Mike is an award-winning Kenyan social entrepreneur, film-maker and musician. Born in the rural town of Siaya in 1986, and raised in Kericho, he moved at a young age to Nairobi. He ended up in the city’s notorious slum, Kibera, the largest in Africa. But it was, in his words, “a blessing in disguise.” There he met someone who owned video equipment and who offered to teach him how to use it. Continue reading “Mulure Mike: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon”

Fernando Sdrigotti: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon

“…I miss the possibility of Buenos Aires. And by missing its possibility I can miss my own hometown without the uncomfortable bits, without all the impossibilities, the proximities, the complexities and familiarities. The parts that can hurt.”

Fernando Sdrigotti is a writer, editor and occasional translator. Born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1977, he was expelled by the economic crash of 2001. He lived in Dublin and Paris before settling in London in the early noughties. Continue reading “Fernando Sdrigotti: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon”

Meeting Robert Graves by Larry Buttrose

In 1976, Larry Buttrose, an Australian playwright and poet, journeyed to Deya, on the Spanish island of Majorca, to seek out the then 81-year-old British poet, author and classicist, Robert Graves, renowned for his historical novels, notably I, Claudius and Claudius The God, a memoir, Goodbye To All That, and a ‘speculative study of poetic inspiration’, The White Goddess.

I stepped out onto the steep cobbled street outside the Villa Verde. I had arrived at the hostel’s door in the wilting afternoon heat of the day before, after having taken the overnight ferry from Barcelona, and the bus up from Palma, along with the locals in breeches and headscarves carrying bound, clucking chickens on their laps. Continue reading “Meeting Robert Graves by Larry Buttrose”

Tom Jeffreys: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon

Tom Jeffreys is an English author, critic, and editor. He is also, in his own words, “a reluctant traveller”.

In 2013, he was made redundant just as he and his wife – artist and writer Crystal Bennes – had to leave their flat in east London. They travelled for six months in South America, then lived for two years in Helsinki, where Crystal completed a masters’ degree in fine art. There was a year in Paris after that. Now they’re in Edinburgh. Continue reading “Tom Jeffreys: In Conversation with C.C. O’Hanlon”

An Interview with Poet Laura Potts

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Hello Laura, thank you for taking the time to speak with me here on Burning House Press! I love the complex music of your work. What’s your relationship to sound and the oral tradition of poetry?

Always, in testament to its fundamentally oral heritage, sound has stood at the forefront of my work: that is, I have always tried to pay homage to the ancient verbal roots of poetry with an acute focus on just how moving sound can be. It is probably, in the words of Harold Bloom, my own anxiety of influence: the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound. There is no single prescriptive path which sound can take in poetry, and I think that appeals to the rebel in me. And I’ve studied it quite intensely really: I often apply scansion to Latin poetry to see the specific moments of gravity and levity which bring a line alive. And, of course, I always read my work out loud as I write: it may have one life on the page but it has another one aloud.

“the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound”

You had the chance to work at Dylan Thomas’s birthplace in Swansea. What was that like?

My summer there was the single most academic season of my young life. At first I’d planned to stay for a week or so, but that soon turned into a couple of months and I’m sure I learnt the equivalent of a whole degree in that time. I travelled from a small village in Carmarthen to Swansea each day, where I walked up the old hill of Cwmdonkin Drive and through the small black gate of number five which Dylan had pushed so many times. My time was largely spent reading, writing and researching his work. I wrote essays for The Dylan Thomas Society and saw a performance of Under Milk Wood. I drank in the pubs he drank in. I slept in his bedroom a night or two, with the old gas lamp still burning. I visited the boathouse in Laugharne which he shared with his wife, and even interviewed an old neighbour once. Yes, my broken old bookcase still models three rows of Dylan and always will. It was the summer to always remember. Continue reading “An Interview with Poet Laura Potts”

Storytelling: Interview with Rayji de Guia

Rayji_sketch1

How long have you been writing and drawing?

I’ve been drawing since even before I could remember. A funny story my mother told me was how she’d gone to the market when I was around four. An older cousin was babysitting me and my sisters. While she was away, my sisters, rambunctious as they were, accidentally toppled a cabinet over the bed. When my mother arrived home, I ran up to her with a drawing on a sheet of paper that clearly depicted the situation – she dropped her huge bags from her hands and was ready to bolt into the house until my cousin came out to assure her everything had been arranged back. I don’t remember this at all, but I never doubted it, given that I’ve always had the memory of drawing with me.

Continue reading “Storytelling: Interview with Rayji de Guia”

An Interview with Poet Farah Ghafoor

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Farah, welcome! Thanks for speaking to me here on Burning House Press. You’re seventeen and not only an accomplished poet, but also the editor-in-chief of Sugar Rascals, your own literary journal for teens. What is it about poetry that calls to you? What role does it play in your life?

 Thanks for having me!

Poetry has always been the perfect outlet for my joy, anger, sorrow, and opinions. It means that I can come home after a long day, usually tired, and turn my emotions into something beautiful, something that other people can enjoy and connect with. A relief from the tedious busyness of life, reading and writing poetry forces me to slow down, spend some time in other people’s brains, and relish in the incredible complexities of language. Though it’s occasionally a little draining, if I don’t write for a week, I start to suffocate with words.

The adventure of poetry really calls to me, too. I love the tough questions, defensive answers, confessions, secrets, glorifications, histories, judgments, and other elements that poems can present in a condensed form. I love how you can control this kind of adventure. I love how you can use language to its limit. I love how this kind of raw, pristine communication is of endless potential. And I love how a poem can truly be anything.

“if I don’t write for a week, I start to suffocate with words”

Continue reading “An Interview with Poet Farah Ghafoor”

‘Our survival deserves a dirty prayer praising our divine faults and everlasting selves.’ – Rachel McKibbens Interview for Burning House Press

On the release of her latest poetry collection – blud – Adrianna Robertson interviewed Rachel McKibbens for Burning House Press.

 

I first contacted Rachel McKibbens because I had been—as I often am—considering what it means to write about mental illness. I wanted to have more conversation about why it matters to write poems about mental health, how it factors into one’s identity as a human and a writer, and what it is to attempt to put the experience of it into words. At the same time, I was reading more and more of Rachel’s work (I picked up Pink Elephant and couldn’t put it down) and I felt like I had to tell someone—or as many people as possible, that these poems were opening a door. The new poems in blud left me with that same breathless feeling. Again, I found myself reading them aloud, handing them to friends and my students. Yet, when I sat down to type my questions for this interview, I knew it was impossible to say all I wanted to say—how to describe all that these poems bring forth in me: sorrow, heartbreak, awe, kinship…and always surprise. Finally, I settled on some questions and what follows are Rachel’s eloquent and evocative answers, though they would have been this regardless of what I had asked. And, perhaps more important than any perfect word I could come up with to describe this collection, is this: we need these poems and I am so grateful to Rachel for writing them.

 

All we misfits, weirdos, black sheep, outcasts and witches who have managed to crawl out of the mud and hold our faces up to the light are family.

Continue reading “‘Our survival deserves a dirty prayer praising our divine faults and everlasting selves.’ – Rachel McKibbens Interview for Burning House Press”

Liz Zumin Interview

“Liz Zumin is an artist whose practice stems from an interest in contagion, suggestion and imitation. Through visual metaphor and physical experience she explores the duel between the isolated individual and the shared awareness of the group, the forming of relations, and how affect is transmitted between bodies and becomes enacted at a neurological, chemical and anatomical level.”

Earlier this year Liz Zumin answered some questions for BHP, an edited version of her interview was featured in The Arsonist magazine, which was published by Burning House Press a few months ago. We now make the full transcript of the interview available for BHP online.

 

Firstly, why make art?

I find it difficult to define and delineate what is art, perhaps because what art expresses and evokes is in part ineffable. I suppose that for me there has always been a fascination with the way that artists have the capacity to transform and alter things, to reverse the meaning of a sign, an object or a cultural form. For my part, I find that I am constantly collecting things; texts, fragments, images, ideas from all around, so in that sense, going back to the question why make art? It’s about sharing the way I experience the world and a way that I have of trying to make sense of it all. Continue reading “Liz Zumin Interview”

Hi-Vis Press Podcast – Interview With Miggy Angel

Hi-Vis Press interviewed Burning House Press’ chief Arsonist Miggy Angel – Covering the subjects of art, recovery, class, mental health and addiction, and his journey from South London to become a writer and poet – check it out here! Xx

 

A Burning House Press Interview With Lydia Towsey

Lydia Towsey interviewed by Trevor Wright for Burning House Press 

 

lti01

We first met at the launch of the Refugee anthology, Over Land, Over Sea. Poems for those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Press 2015). What was that project like for you?

It’s been very positive – a great idea. As an ordinary citizen, especially, or even in our current political climate, it’s easy to feel powerless. Ambrose (Musiyiwa) whose poem The Man Who Ran Through the Tunnel stimulated the anthology) thought this would be a way to mobilise lots of voices, not just from Leicester but from across the country and the world. Continue reading “A Burning House Press Interview With Lydia Towsey”

An Interview with David Naimon

In the last few years, podcasts have exploded in popularity. Perhaps it’s something about hearing the human voice and feeling that connection with another person. Like many people, I have podcasts that I regularly listen to. One of my favorites is David Naimon’s Between the Covers. On his radio show, Naimon interviews a wide range of writers, from those who are household names to those who are just starting out. He engages deeply with each writer’s work and always gives his listeners a new way of thinking about complex issues related to literature, life, and society. Between the Covers is essential listening for anyone who loves books and thought-provoking, even life-changing, conversations. Just as his show is illuminating, so too was this interview. We talked about writing across difference, what role writers play in these difficult times, and much more.

–Caitlin, Nonfiction Editor for Burning House Press

 

Burning House Press: Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! How did Between the Covers get started? Were you already in radio or was this new to you?

 

David Naimon: I was already hosting a non-literary show at the radio station (KBOO 90.7FM in Portland, Oregon) before hosting Between the Covers. At some point the programmers of all the shows started receiving emails with inquiries like “Rick Moody is coming to town, anybody available to interview him?” It made me wonder if that show was all of a sudden in need of hosts. It turned out that one of the main hosts of the show had left and that my interest in filling that void was a welcome one. My first interview was with Anthony Doerr. At the time he was a writer’s writer, not the household name he is today, but he was so warm and responsive and enthusiastic that it was infectious. I never looked back.

Continue reading “An Interview with David Naimon”

An Interview with Physicist and Poet Florence Lenaers

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Hello Florence! Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me here on Burning House Press. I’m fascinated by your bio: you’re a PhD student in physics who also writes poetry. I’ve got to ask, why? What draws you to both physics and poetry?  

Hi Amee! Thanks a lot for this opportunity. Oddly enough, the driving force was, & still is, the same in both cases: a thirst for equilibrium, the urge to build an extension upon my collage-like experience of the world; to challenge myself out of my comfort zone, towards areas left uncharted on my maps; to counterbalance an excess of centripetence; to overwrite certainties; to ride a Trojan horse within my own fortress, then to open the gates to cross-pollination.

“my favourite places to roam are borderlands”

Continue reading “An Interview with Physicist and Poet Florence Lenaers”

3 Poems & An Interview With Poet Amee Nassrene Broumand

The Sandpipers

 

It’s time for a ghost story—now,

while opalescent giants, dark-robed, stride

over us, hair blazing with the night

to come—

they imagine themselves

masked, bejeweled, descending

to the asylum window. The inmate’s lament—

 

They came in the night and stole my head.

What did they do with it? My old green head. Continue reading “3 Poems & An Interview With Poet Amee Nassrene Broumand”

An Interview with Helen McClory

Helen McClory is a Scottish writer whose stories are multi-faceted gems, filled with atmosphere, mystery, and vivid detail. I discovered her work through Twitter and instantly loved it. Her flash fiction is collected in On the Edges of Vision, and you can read some of the pieces at her blog, Schietree. Her first novel, Flesh of the Peach, is forthcoming this year. McClory was kind enough to answer some of my questions. In our discussion, we talk about gender, Sylvia Plath, unlikable women, and much more.

– Caitlin
Nonfiction Editor of Burning House Press

 
 
 

Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I am such a fan of your writing, and I’m so excited to have this discussion with you. First, I would just like to ask you some general questions about life and writing.

What are you currently reading? What made you want to read it?

I’m currently reading Alan Garner’s The Stone Book Quartet, a book ostensibly for children (like most of his work) that is composed of economical, brilliant sentences weighted with folkloric meaning. I loved his writing as a child myself and wanted to revisit his work (though I don’t think I ever read this one) because I’m writing a sort of fantasy/folklore novel myself and thought I’d look to one of the masters of the form.

Continue reading “An Interview with Helen McClory”

‘Variations of Presence’ – an interview with photographer Alexis Vasilikos

Thank you, Alexis, for submitting your works to be featured on Burning House Press! You mentioned in our email exchange that you don’t work in themes or projects, rather that the images arise in their own time – the same goes for the works’ titles. Is chance a huge factor in your photographic process?

Thank you, it’s my pleasure!

It depends what you mean by “chance”, if you mean events that happen by forces that are beyond the control of the individual consciousness then yes, chance is very important. My practice is deeply connected with this surrendering to the flow of life; this is why I mostly conceive photographs as happenings rather than doings. Today I wrote this small note which feels relevant to this question: Creativity is not a doing, it is an alignment with the cosmic unfolding, in which there is no separate doer. Continue reading “‘Variations of Presence’ – an interview with photographer Alexis Vasilikos”

‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal

Nottingham-born Henry Normal co-wrote the Royle Family, Mrs Merton and many other television comedies, was a co-director with Steve Coogan of Baby Cow Productions and Executive Producer of ‘I Believe in Miracles’, the real life story of Nottingham Forest’s European Cup triumph. As it turns, we share educational, musical tastes and neurology – although Henry has made far better use of his – and it was a pleasure to interview him about his influences, autism, family and future plans, particularly his return to his first love, poetry.  

– Trevor Wright.

 

You’ve recently left Baby Cow and started to re-engage with poetry. What was the thinking behind that?

I worked in television for about thirty years. I’ve always loved comedy, I think there’s something akin with comedy and poetry and it comes down to truth. I think you’re searching for truth in poetry and there are certain things you only laugh at if they’re true. Comedy is a bit like playing a musical instrument, you know when it’s off tune and you know when it’s right. Comedy is exact, whereas poetry requires a little bit more imagination, and a little bit more interpretation. Continue reading “‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal”

We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett

It must have been around Summer 2013. I had just had my first collection of poems published. It was the culmination of many years of continuous writing. A searing, intense, daily practice of generating language. I had begun writing in the first instance as a means to save my life, and now I had no room left to contain the word. I was emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.

It was around this period that I discovered the poetry of Cindy Savett. Continue reading “We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett”

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