Back with Carol A. Stephen with the writing life and writing community.
VAH: Are you a full time writer?
CAS: I am a retired small “a” accountant/credit professional, so I am free to write or not as I choose. Except, of course, for the compulsions!
VAH: Is writing vocation, occupation, or profession?
CAS: I’d say a vocation. I do it because I am compelled and because I have a love for language.
VAH: When the page is blank what gets you writing?
CAS: Reading other poets, finding a good writing prompt. Occasionally something will come from just brainstorming/wild-minding, but not very often. I have to read.
VAH: What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?
CAS: To start with, I usually have an “earworm” phrase demanding to be written down. If I have a list of words, I might just start writing in a word association kind of way and the poem may take off from there. I have a couple of projects in mind, but poems are more likely to come from specific phrases rather than just a more general theme.
VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?
CAS: That is on my list of resolutions every year. I don’t know what holds me back, but I don’t submit regularly.
VAH: What does your typical writing day include?
CAS: Many distractions on the internet. Writing new poems takes precedence over polishing ones already written. The best poems are always the newest ones. That might be why I don’t submit as often as I think I should!
VAH: What words of wisdom do you have for the emerging writer?
CAS: Read, read, read. Try new techniques, especially those new forms that you think won’t work for you. And submit! (Yes, wisdom I should include in my own plans!)
VAH: What choices have you made regards to traditional or independent publishing?
CAS: Most of my individual published poems have been in online magazines where I’ve been successful submitting before. Of my three chapbooks, one I published myself, another was under a friend’s imprint, and the new one is published by a small press run by a poet I’ve “known” online for years. I’m a late bloomer, and not sure I want to wait the long times it takes for traditional publishing to take place. Online publishing also reaches a larger audience, even more quickly than self-publishing.
VAH: What part does social media play in your writing career?
CAS: I have a blog, where I write about literary events in and around Ottawa, Ontario, but also to showcase my poetry and my chapbooks. I’m on Facebook and Twitter and recently have become more active on Tumblr.
VAH: Do you belong to writing or author organizations?
CAS: I am a member of the League of Canadian Poets, The Ontario Poetry Society and I belong to a small poetry group, The Field Stones. I am rejoining the board of Arts Carleton Place, where I live, and I am a former member of Canadian Authors Association, National Capital Region.
VAH: Do you have any favorite online sites or blogs that you find useful or interesting?
CAS: Poetry Foundation, Academy of American Poets, Places for Writers, Winning Writers, Found Poetry Review, Ron Silliman’s blog, Bill Moyers.com, Writers Digest, and many others.
VAH:What was your writing education?
CAS: In high school we studied it as part of the English curriculum. Since 2006, I’ve taken an online course at Algonquin College, and a follow-up private course with the same instructor, as well as a 10-week Stanford course with James Arthur and later a week-long retreat with him in Lenox, Mass.
VAH: Writing conferences, retreats, seminars – any favorites and why?
CAS: The retreat [mentioned earlier] with James Arthur was a chance to work in group with some of the poets I’d met in the online Stanford class, as well as time to discuss my work one-on-one with James. I’ve participated in several weekend “master” workshops through Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series with prominent Canadian poets. These were amazing opportunities to work with some of Canada’s top poets in a small class (max 12 participants) I also attended a 5-day writing conference through Canadian Authors Association, which provided workshops across various genres, and opportunities to network that have been invaluable.
Thank you Carol A. Stephen for contributing your thoughts on writing and the writing life.
Sample Carol’s work:
Carol reading her work here.
Howe and Stephen (the light ekphrastic)
Stephen and Karkar (the light ekphrastic)
Imworld and Stephen (the light ekphrastic)
Learning to Dance (Silver Birch Press)
Waiting for Green Mornings (Silver Birch Press)
In a Moment She’ll Unfurl (the light ekphrastic)
Carol A. Stephen is a Canadian poet, poetry selector for Bywords Journal and a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She’s served on boards of Canadian Authors Association, National Capital Region (CAA-NCR), Arts Carleton Place and Tree Reading Series Ottawa. Carol coordinated CAA’s poetry circle 2008-2013.
Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal, Tree Press/phaphours press chapbooks and online at The Light Ekphrastic and Silver Birch Press. Chapbooks: Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, Bondi Studios, 2011 and Architectural Variations, Quillfyre Publishing, 2012. Ink Dogs in my Shoe, Dec. 2014 from Nose In Book Publishing, Castlegar B.C.
Awards: 3rd Prize CAA 2012 National Capital Writing Contest for Walking in Thomson’s Red Sumac. Honourable Mentions: VERSeFest, Poetry for the End of the World, 2012, Arborealis 2012 and 2008 Ontario Poetry Society, Double Your Pleasure 2013 Ontario Poetry Society and CAA’s 2008 and 2011 National Capital Writing Contest.
Recent publication: In December, 2014 her third chapbook, Ink Dogs in my Shoes, was published by Nose In Book Publishing, Castlegar, B.C. This is a chapbook of poems all containing some element of three in them. Subjects range from garden to writing process to nonsense rhymes, and some explore conceptual poetry or experiment with wordplay.
Three by Five posts on days that end in threes.