“Upstate” was first published by Writing Raw
|The Terraced Mountain. Available at Amazon.|
|My lost homeland: San Diego Bay, California|
|Another shore: Côte d’Azur, Provence, France|
|Stained glass: Musée National Marc Chagall-Nice France|
| Exiled Caribbean: Derek Walcott.
|She said, “William, start writing!”:
A Season’s Requiem
by Gloria Mindock
At age nine. I was writing music and lyrics. I loved to sing and was constantly writing small songs. When I was twelve, I performed in a school play and was hooked on theatre and acting and continued until age forty, when I retired from the stage.
While growing up, there were so many books in the house. My mother painted and art books were a big part of my life. She recited the poetry of Robert Burns and Robert Frost which drove me crazy. Only years later did I appreciate their poetry. My dad was a school teacher so between them, I learned to appreciate the arts. My sister Kellis plays the piano, my brother-in-law plays the clarinet and other instruments and my nephew plays the violin. I have a very inspiring and artistic family.
In high school, I discovered Keats and Shelley and feel this was a turning point in my life. In college, I would go to the library and read poetry for hours. One of my favorite poems during that time was “The Buried Life” by Matthew Arnold.
Fast forward to the early 1980’s. For years, I had been performing, acting, and singing in cafes, bars, and at a few universities my original music and lyrics. I also sang the music of other musicians whose songs were so poetic, Joni Mitchell being one of them. I loved singing so much! In 1982, I lived in Iowa City for two years. I met so many wonderful writers at the Iowa Writers Workshop. At this time, I was writing experimental plays and performing performance art.
Iowa City is where I co-founded a theatre with my ex-husband. When making the move to Somerville in 1984, our theatre got a name. Theatre S & S. Press. We became a non-profit theatre and a magazine was founded which I edited called the Boston Literary Review/BluR. The theatre and magazine ceased in 1994.
Around this time, I discovered Eastern European poetry, literature, and translations. I started writing poetry and was influenced by this writing. I felt like I was home. Still today, that is the writing that makes me tick, want to write, and makes me feel alive when I read it. I can’t get enough of it. All my singing, acting, writing text for the theatre led me to poetry and to writing.
In 2005, I realized how much I missed publishing so founded Červená Barva Press. I have published writers from all over the world and met so many wonderful poets and fiction writers. I get excited when I publish writing that I love. All this motivates me to write. Reading many translations, which are easier to find now, stimulates me. There is nothing like a good book.
Bill, my partner, is an amazing artist and he listens to my new work all the time. It helps to read it out loud and hear it. I know by the sound and rhythm of it if it needs to be edited or not.
A few years ago, I started to write flash fiction. I wrote some very strange things which was fun. I am currently working on three more manuscripts called, “I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me (poetry),” “Screaming for Paul (a memoir of my teeny bopper years and all the bands I met),” and one that is untitled. I guess you could say the writing bug hit me at an early age.
You told me I was a light in
a dark world.
Hanging onto these words,
Everyday, there is slaughter, murder,
horrific things, done to a body…
things that make me sick.
Day after day, death happens…
despite the sun coming out to
show the blue of the sky.
Beauty and ugliness in battle—
Light and dark in battle—
Each day, a tug of war and each day,
each side wins somewhere in the world.
You told me I was light in a dark world.
Why did you do this?
Do you know something I don’t?
Am I an angel alone weeping
with words coming out of my mouth
that no one listens to?
From Whiteness of Bone
In the middle of the dartboard was a villain. Ninja Features. That was actually the name I had given him. He was pinned up on the board and taking his comeuppance, via darts. Throwing the darts were the good guys, of course. One was called Mummyface. Mummyface was a kind of squashed dartboard shape himself, with legs coming out of his head and a big-toothed grin and spaced-out eyes. I can visualize these images today, even though the comic book I wrote at nine is long gone. I can visualize Mr. Taylor, my English teacher, with his short-cropped beard and long legs, and I can still feel his enthusiasm for the work I’d done three decades later.
I was enthralled, but mostly I was stoned, during Contemporary Fiction and the Self-Conscious Novel (I was also very self-conscious during the Self-Conscious Novel). Dr. Vic Sage mumbled. He ruminated. He had a beard. Sometimes, he just stared at us in our seminar room, modeled after a Swedish prison. He recommended I do a creative dissertation. We’d read Gulliver’s Travels, Cervantes, AL Kennedy, Arabian Nights. This was the late 90s in Norwich. I was raving a lot. I had my head in music. I put pen to paper badly. I licked Rizla and made spliffs, and wrote even worse. The Sage recommended Vox, a novel in dialogue. It was an erotic telephone conversation, which I devoured in one sitting. Then I wrote the best story I’d ever written. I kept on smoking for years.
|Photo by Matt Richie|
|“I never desire to converse with a man who has
written more than he has read.” —Samuel Johnson
by Bill Yarrow
Growing up in a library, I fell in love with reading at an early age.
I should explain.
The more books I read, the more books I wanted to read. The more authors I learned about, the more I wanted to read everything by those authors. I read like a demon. I devoured book after book after book. I never felt satiated. I never got tired. I could read anywhere—sitting, lying down, standing up, walking, on buses, on trains, on subways, on airplanes, in quiet places, in noisy places, alone, among other people, in libraries, in fields, on public benches—it didn’t matter where I was.
|Available at Amazon|
When I was a boy, there was always a lot of turmoil in our house, things I didn’t understand. I was painfully shy and had no friends, so I didn’t know how normal families lived, yet I knew ours was different.
That summer our garage burned down and we were laying the foundation for a new one. All of us boys were helping out. (Len is on the far right at the end of the wagon) My brothers were very good with their hands, as well as my father, who was a mechanic. Me, I wore puka shells, had long, David Cassidy hair, and read poetry. My assisting simply meant handing over tools.
At one point we broke for lunch and as my brothers left, I was alone with my Dad, something kind of rare, but for whatever reason I felt brave enough to say, “Hey, Dad, I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.” To wit, he asked, “Yeah, what’s that?” He was staring at me then, but I still told him, “I want to be a writer.” Without hesitating, as if he knew what I was going to say all along, he said, “Quit your fucking dreaming. How’re you going to eat on that?”
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’m Not Supposed To Be Here And Neither Are You out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com