Monica Berlin talked about her poetry--mostly poetry she writes in collaboration with Beth Marzoni, but also things she writes on her own. We talked about how they work, driving along the Mississippi River together, composing on the road, and we talked about writing poems about the weather. Along the way, Monica read some work from her and Beth's award-winning book No Shape Bends the River So Long.
Vampire novelist, by which, of course, I mean he writes novels about vampires--rock and roll vampires, to be specific, living the rock star life(-in-death) and guzzling blood instead of bourbon. But then again, we did conduct this interview in an out-of-the-way, obscure corner of the basement of a former museum. Where else would a real vampire want to be interviewed?
Zeke Jarvis and I talked about the value of the odd, the unexpected, the shift out of the ordinary in his fiction and poetry, the weird take on the conventional, such as a story of his about a college course on crying or a collection, not of poems, but of poetry-reading introductions to non-existent poems. If writers don't entertain themselves first of all, there's no reason to expect others to care.
Katherine Young talked with me about her writing, meant mainly to inspire and encourage young people. She talked also about her project of collaborating with her child on her next book.
Penn Stewart's novel Fertile Ground covers some historical ground that's unfamiliar to most of us: the families and fates of German nationals interned in the U.S. during World War II. We talked about that book, some of the research behind it, and some of his marvelous short stories.
Jessica Bastian, a librarian at Illinois Central College, has helped choose books for the One Book, One College program. We talked about the computer-gaming, dystopian, 1980s-nostalgic novel by Ernest Cline Ready Player One, which has been the book for 2014-15, and Civil Rights hero John Lewis's graphic autobiographic The March, which is the book for 2015-16.
Pepper Bauer--fiction writer, essayist, journalist, activist--has published a lot of work locally in Central Illinois, especially in Downstate Story and in the Limestone Independent News. We talked about her realistic fiction and about her science fiction set in a dystopian world of total corporate control. She is also leader of the Foodshare Can-a-thon, a huge annual project to fund and stock local food pantries in Central Illinois.
Hale Garrison's play Humanity Stew premiers this month, February 2015 at Peoria's Cornstock Theatre. No, it's not about cannibalism. It's a collection of seven short comedies knitted by an over all narrative involving a grandfather and granddaughter. We talked about the play and the writing of it as well as about Hale's experience directing for the first time last year--Woody Allen's Honeymoon Motel.
Our late colleague at Illinois Central College, Philosophy professor Ed Abplanalp, wrote poetry. A collection of his poems,Postmodern Shamanism, has just been published posthumously. It is amazingly good work, and everybody should read it. Sarah Parlier and I discuss what we loved about Ed and admired about his work. Sarah reads some of Ed's poems beautifully.
Stephanie Guedet talks about her scholarly and personal fascination with various kinds of autobiographical writing. We discussed issues of candor, accuracy, and lying, as well as the way writing one's life is a way to shape it. She also discussed her admiration for the memoirs of Mary Karr, especially her books The Liar's Club, Cherry, and Lit.