What was the inspiration behind “a love poem, of sorts”?
It’s drawn predominantly from experience. Essentially, the poem began as a coping mechanism after a disturbing conversation; however, the poem itself took years to evolve (and even now, I’m not sure it’s fully complete). Distance, objectivity, and many creative workshops were undoubtedly key to its creation. My overall goal here was to convey to my reader that dysfunction is the very thing that makes us functioning beings – and, ultimately, allows us to measure the breadth and happiness of our lives.
How do you write? With a pen? A keyboard?
I always handwrite first – there’s just something more creative, for me, about the tangibility of it all. The smudged ink and curve of letters allow me a sense of initial chaos that I just don’t have electronically.
What is your writing process? How many drafts do you go through?
In all seriousness, though, I use as many drafts as needed. Each piece and process differs so it’s hard to say. Some days, it’s only one while other pieces (like “a love poem, of sorts”) are revised endlessly.
By day you are a/an __________ and by night a/an _________ (Fill in the blanks, please)
By day, I am an English professor passionate about creative pedagogy and by night a student of synaesthetics.
Where did you publish your first piece?
As embarrassing at this may be, it was actually a small journal called Agon which was published by Albright College, where I earned my undergraduate degree…unless angsty teenage zines count of course? Ha!
What writers have influenced you the most and why?
Walt Whitman – I’ll never forget the first time I read “Song of Myself.” I had just lost my mother to cancer, so when I stumbled across the line “all goes onward and outward, nothing collapses” it brought an incredible sense of closure to me. So, it’s no surprise that this line became my life’s mantra and Whitman one of my most beloved writers.
Gertrude Stein – My partner refers to Stein as “literary diarrhea.” My response: “Sometimes, you just need to get it out.” Stein’s emotion may be unorganized and raw to some, but it’s her playfulness with language and emotion that makes her work so palpable for me.
Alison Bechdel – Sequential art with a literary bend. Bechdel’s humor is vivid in both text and image. Plus, she wasn’t afraid to reclaim the word “Dyke” before it was cool.
Audre Lorde –“Your silence will not protect you.” This woman is a warrior of words. Nuff’ said.
What are your favorite writing resources?
o a pencil and Moleskine that can fit in the back pocket of my jeans
o trustworthy, honest readers and editors
o the last ten pages of Poets & Writers magazine (read preferably in the bathroom)
Shout out to your favorite small presses and magazines—excluding us, of course.
Right now, Apiary Magazine and Paper Darts Magazine are two of my favorite small press publications. Apiary showcases the incredible creativity present in Philly (plus, their release parties are a-mazing) while Paper Darts blends lit, art, and culture seamlessly. Both venues not only exhibit amazing work, but more so they provide a community of creators and tons of inspiration.
Do you have a blog or author web site that we can direct our reader to?
No literary website yet as grading papers too often takes precedence. Yet, for my freelance art, people can feel free to visit: http://mah408.wix.com/melishart
Do you have any upcoming work that we should keep an eye out for?
Currently, I’m in the process of coloring my first graphic novel, entitled Bookends — a book which documents my parents’ battles with cancer and their subsequent deaths.
I know it sounds morbidly miserable, but humor is present, I swear it! It’s a tragicomedy of sorts. If this coloring process goes smoothly, it should drop in Fall 2014.
What question would you have liked us to have asked? Answer it. 🙂
What’s your favorite dance move?
Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato.” Perfect this move as you’ll need it when celebrating both your acceptance and rejection letters.