Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anthology Author: Ann Cefola

Ann Cefola
Ann Cefola is today's featured writer from InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra.

She is the author of St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped (Kattywompus Press), Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press) and the translation Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions). A 2007 Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency recipient, she also received the 2001 Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery. Ann lives with her husband Michael in the New York suburbs. 

IS: What motivated you to start writing?
AC: I can’t recall—writing began early. My second-grade teacher sent a note home to my parents, saying, “Your daughter speaks in poetry.” I’d been writing well before then, inventing stories and drawing pictures.

IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?
AC: I don’t have one source; instead, certain subjects appeal to me depending on what’s happening in my life. When I began visiting Vermont years ago, that landscape worked its subtle green influence on me and culminated in my first poetry chapbook, Sugaring.

IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?
AC: Both! I hear rumblings of a poem and write them down. It’s like a sculptor seeing a block of marble and intuiting that a beautiful shape waits inside. What also helps is having a deadline: for years, I have set a date to review new poems with dear friends and award-winning poets Linda Simone and Terry Dugan.

IS: Please describe your process.
AC: I write in journals, identify intriguing themes and maybe scribble more on them. When a certain shape or integrity seems evident, the poems go into the computer. From there, I edit and then show them to my poet friends.

St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped
IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?
AC: I write my monthly e-newsletter, annogram, which goes to 200+ poets, writers, editors, artists and architects worldwide. Then I publish it on my blog. I am updating my poetry website and have created an extensive literary community on LinkedIn. To promote my new chapbook, St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped, I am doing interviews, arranging reviews and having a book launch party.

IS: What's left to do?
AC: Probably to book some readings in New York City—which I will be able to do thanks to poets Jackie Sheeler and Cindy Hochman, who both host popular reading series.

IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?
AC: I don’t know if I have one. When people hear my work, they always comment on my “range.” I write in many styles—from compact lyric narrative to expansive long lines, not to mention experimental poetry translated from French.

IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?
AC: Recently I wrote a small poem that brought together two divergent subjects in a way that deepened the resonance and meaning of each—for me, it was a moment of realizing, on a deeper level, how poetry works.

IS: What's the most recent book you read?
AC: Now in November, a 1934 Pulitzer Prize winner, by Josephine Johnson. If you want to know what would have happened to the Joads if they’d stayed home, this is the book to read! The consistently lyrical language provides a startling contrast to the harrowing storyline.

IS: Who are the writers you admire most?
AC: I love inventive or outrageous poets, like John Ashbery, John Berryman, CD Wright and the French poet I translate, Hélène Sanguinetti. Along these same lines, my favorite book is James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which combines journalism, memoir and poetry as well as Walker Evans’ renowned photos. In novels, I prefer dense lyric narrative that sounds like poetry—such as Tinkers by Paul Harding or The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?
AC: Twenty years ago, Stephen Dunn told me, “The secrets of any art do not reveal themselves until you live with them.” This means you have to jump in and write: commit to writing the way doctors commit to medicine, deacons commit to priesthood, pilots commit to flying. However, unlike those vocations, it’s a calling without a map—equally terrifying and freeing. As Terry Dugan likes to quote, “You make the path by walking.”

IS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AC: I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with your blog audience. Anyone who would like to receive my free poetry e-newsletter can let me know by e-mailing Thank you, Betty!

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