Interview With Marge Simon

I have the special honor of sharing an interview with award winning author and artist Marge Simon. She began her career writing and illustrating for small press and went on to become an award-winning writer receiving the Rhysling Award’s Best Long Poem for speculative poetry in 1996, the Bram Stoker Award for her collaborative poetry collection with Charlee Jacob, Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet in 2008, and again in 2012 for her collection Vampires, Zombies, and Wanton Souls.

Her poetry has also won the Dwarf Stars Award, the Strange Horizons Readers Poll and the Elgin Award for Best Poetry Collection, “Sweet Poison” with Mary A. Turzillo. She was awarded the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Grand Master poetry award in 2015.

A former president of the Small Press Writers and Artists Organization, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and a former editor of Star*Line, SFPA’s bimonthly journal, in 2013 she began editing the column “Blood and Spades: Poets of the Dark Side” for the monthly newsletter of the Horror Writers Association.

She also serves as the Chair of the HWA Board of Trustees. Sharing with us today, Marge Simon on her recent poetry collection, Small Spirits: Dolls of Darkness. You can read my review of Small Spirits here.

Dolls have a surprising cultural impact. It seems people either love them or dislike them. They have a place in religion and ritual as well as play. Can you please tell me the significance of dolls to you personally?

Marge Simon—For this collection overall, I’d say it was mostly with the help of Sandy DeLuca’s personal attachment/memories of her own dolls or stories she had heard or read that I discovered significance, researched (as did she, for her art) types of dolls and their purposes through the ages of civilizations.

I remember as a young child, having many “Storybook Dolls” which I guess are now collectors’ joys—gifts from a dear aunt, but I wasn’t allowed to play with them, nor with Emmy Lou, a very expensive little girl dolly almost as big as I was at age 3 1/2.

My father was upset with my mother for the extravagance. A few years later the cat chewed up her hair so she had to go to the doll hospital and get a wig. I still have that doll.

I was also sent foreign dolls such as matroyoska dolls, the kind that you start opening like egg shells from larger to small to minute. Fascinating! I let my imagination go off with that one! And then I started making my own pipe cleaner dolls that could be bent any direction I wanted because I was making up exciting stories with them by the time I was about 10.

Small Spirits is about dolls, but I sense a larger statement concerning the girls and women that are represented here. Is that true or am I seeing connections where there aren’t any?

Marge Simon—There are connections, oh yes! In fact, some were from researching dolls and myths and magic, including ghosts and legendary dolls. For example – “Refuse of the Cotton Club” –a story that isn’t actually told, but you can imagine what kind of life the little girls of the Jamaican mother had in those times from the way the poem unfolds. Oddly, no market wanted that one. It just doesn’t fit the “needs” of the usual audience and I was glad when you mentioned it earlier in a message.

“Emma, the Mourning Doll” – take what you will from this. It could have been. If you
believe in such things – don’t you recall being young, and believing in wonders before
your own eyes?

“The Pupa Doll” — is actually based on a real account of a doll in Italy that the owners kept in a glass bookcase. The doll appeared to move things around, wanting to be free and reunited with her true companion, a little girl who died in the WW II bombings.

If you could be a doll, what kind would you be? What era and purpose would you choose?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/StrangeLittleGirlsUK

Marge Simon—This is a wonderful question. I was having troubles with an answer–so I asked Sandy and I love her response. It serves as mine, as well. Sandy: “Oh, just something “creepy and cute.”

I live in the present, so it would be modern-day such as this doll (pictured at right). Then one can imagine stories, poems and even spells…some for good…perhaps some that are naughty. I love that “naughty” part! Hee hee!

There is a deeply disturbing nature to some of the poems. Daddy’s Little Girl is one. The poem starts off almost playfully and then descends into dark intent. In my mind, I’m rooting for the girl paying justice to the dad as I’m sure he is the cause of the mother’s disappearance and abusive towards the daughter. Do you know the whole story of these two, or is the poem just a glimpse into another world leaving you with questions as well?

Marge Simon—Exactly so, what you say. Though there are stories behind most of these, they are bits and pieces of experiences I’ve picked up along the way. I knew an abused woman with an adolescent daughter.

The woman’s boyfriend was a charmer, but he was also a child molester (we didn’t know this at the time.) I knew of marriages where the husband beat the wife and then brought her presents to “make up” for it. So as I say, bits and pieces, strung together.

Do any of the dolls represent real women from history or your own experiences? What sparked these diverse tales?

Marge Simon—Here is an example of what Sandy would often do to jump start my imagination such as this would accompany the art. I regret that we didn’t include my poem for this one. I would provide more examples but they’ve been deleted as I worked on the poems.

“Name and it’s meaning: December: The Cold Moon. Winter takes a firm hold and temperatures plummet at this time. Sometimes this moon is also called the Long Night Moon as the winter nights lengthen and the moon spends more time above the horizon opposite a low sun. The full moon name often used by Christian settlers is the ‘Moon before Yule’. As a child I remember how everything became colder and somewhat still before the holidays, and my parents spoke in Italian to each other (thinking that I couldn’t understand them) in regards to my Christmas presents.

I wanted a specific doll one year, something pretty and one that I could dress in lovely clothes, and after deciphering the Italian I learned where they’d hidden her. It was in a closet, or space, where I had to stand on a chair in order to reach it. Perhaps the girl in the poem falls, and is badly hurt when she climbs up on that chair looking for her doll and it’s on the night of the Cold Moon, or the Long Night Moon.

Remember that my mother also told superstitious tales, and she once told me that all the women of our family were cursed by her older sister, and that curse was steadfast even though that sister had died– the ghostly woman above the doll is her.”

Bruce Boston and Marge Simon

In A Gift From Mama, the girl has a doll that delivers revenge for her, but she uses it up on petty squabbles and the doll turns on her. It makes me think of how vengeance has a way of turning back on us. What are your thoughts on this?

Marge Simon—It’s a lesson, like a parable. You have explained it well. “Life is not so simple/A curse can’t be abused” The child (now a grown woman) realizes this too late.

We would like to think that offensive trolls on Facebook also get their comeuppance but the best thing to do is block them or ignore them – and why waste a good curse on the likes of them? Such pettiness is a waste of time. Don’t allow yourself to be upset by those shallow people – if you do, you’ll have satisfied their purpose.

The art by Sandy DeLuca has a surreal, twisting fluidity that goes well with your work. What is your collaboration like and how did you start working together?

Marge Simon—Yes, Sandy’s art is remarkable –fresh, overflowing with life in line and color as well as the often multiple and various subjects. Our first collaboration was The Mad Hattery, which was a Bram Stoker Finalist® in 2012 (published in 2011).

Sandy Deluca

It all began in 2011, when Sandy and I reunited in person. My daughter and I had taken an excursion trip to New England. I wanted to see Sandy again, for we’d kind of lost touch over the years. We met in Providence for lunch and Sandy suggested we do some
collaborations of poetry and art. So when I got home, I thought “Go for it!”

Things began to come together when Sandy started sharing paintings of strange women in weird hats. They came in all shapes, types and sizes, some funny, some scary and most of them wicked in one way or another. I so enjoyed writing poems to accompany them!

It was like looking forward to a heady dessert. With the exception of Dangerous Dreams (collaborative poems with my artwork) all of our books are my ekphrastic poems responding to Sandy’s art. You can see more of her work here. There is a link with some doll paintings at the bottom of the front page.

What can we expect from you next?

Marge Simon—2017: my collaboration with Mary A. Turzillo, Satan’s Sweethearts (Weasel Press) –poems about the most evil women throughout history (from Salome to Eitleen Wournos– and beyond to Bathory and ancient China) is on the Stoker rec list and available on Amazon.

2018: Currently I am working on a collection, WAR, (Crystal Lake) with Alessandro Manzetti, Bram Stoker® award winner. It will feature wars past and present of all sorts, not just battles – and a third section of surreal futuristic “war” poems.

Aaaand … I have a few other things cookin’ in my kettle o’ ideas!

Keep up with the dynamic Marge Simon at MargeSimon.com.

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My GoIndieNow Episode!

I have wires coming out of my head!

A few weeks ago I think I mentioned that the fabulous Joe Compton had interviewed me for his show, GoIndieNow. It’s been a busy week, so I’m just now able to watch and share. Great show to keep track of emerging and established authors on the indie edge.

About the show: How do you become a Published Author? How do you become a Indie Filmmaker? How do you become an Indie Muscian? Where do I find other published Indie Authors? Where do I find other Indie Filmmakers? Where do I find other Indie Musicians? Well you know what I think it’s time to Go IndieNow

Join host Joe Compton and others as we delve into the world of Indie Artists. What drives them and makes them successful. Plus how we make each other successful. It’s all here on our Youtube channel.

Here’s the show, embedded, and if if you like it, consider subscribing to the GoIndieNow channel. Thanks, Joe Compton, for another awesome episode!

Visit the GoIndieNow website here.

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Meet the New Baby

I just won a vintage Webster XL-747 Automatic Repeat Spacer Typewriter from an auction.

I’ve had my eye out for a manual typewriter since I watched A Place of Truth about traveling poet Abi Motts.

I’ll be using it in the next few weeks as a prop (I’m being painted!), but I also look forward to using it for performance poetry.

Looking forward to a package in the mail soon!

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MOOC 2: The Match

We are past the second MOOC week and it was a rough one. My husband has a crazy, summer camp week at the taekwondo school where he teaches which means I take on some extra stuff to help out. Mostly that involves walking two dogs twice a day and driving a half hour back and forth at least twice a day. I also started taekwondo myself, so that has cut into my evening work time…BUT

I survive and write on. This week’s assignment was to identify a social issue I feel strongly about, and then choose an object to represent my feelings about that issue. For my social issue, I chose violence, revolution and rioting.

I have conflicted emotions about violence. My nature is attracted to it. I want to be there, throwing Molotov cocktails and screaming with the raging mob…BUT… I know it probably isn’t the best solution for positive change. So I chose to write about that conflict with a match as my object. So here is my assignment #2, and now on to assignment #3.

I think you can still join this Massive Open Online Course. We are in week #3 and the deadline for submission is Sept. 5. Plenty of time! You can read my first MOOC assignment here.

The Match

The flame in my hand

balances on the match

trapped by the need

for a foundation—

however slight.

 

But the flame desires bigger things:

to consume buildings

to crumble towns

to reduce forest to soot.

 

This flame yearns

to escape the fragile stick of wood

I hold—that holds it.

 

And, inflamed, I yearn

to escape the fragile system of rules

that hold me—that I hold to.

 

I desire bigger things:

to topple authority

to overthrow mindlessness

to reduce greed to memory.

 

I hold the future in my hand

and it balances on my choice.

Trapped by my need for rage/chaos/kicks

I can build a foundation to evolve instead—

however slight.

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Electric Lit Pays $50 for Essays

Electric Literature is open to submissions of personal and critical essays from Aug. 1—15. They’re particularly interested in pieces that examine the intersection of the literary experience and other creative endeavors: film, fine art, music, video games, science, tech, architecture, etc. Submissions will close August 15.

Please title your submission in a way that highlights its connection to the world of literature, the role of narrative in our lives, or the power of storytelling. Payment for essays is $50. Length is up to you, but they suggest aiming for 1,500–4,000 words.

More details here.

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Submit for Overton Poetry Prize 2017

The Overton Poetry Prize 2017, will close on 1st September 2017, and the winner will be announced at the end of September 2017.

In memory of Professor Bill Overton (1946-2012), the School of the Arts, English and Drama offers this prize for a sequence of poems on any subject, up to 300 lines.

The first-placed entry will be published in chapbook form. There will be two further prizes of £50 each.

Much of Bill’s teaching and writing was on poetry, and the proceeds from this competition fund an early-career poet in residence for Loughborough University. Students from the School can study Creative Writing modules at BA level, and undertake an MA and PhD in Creative Writing. We hope that this poetry prize, set up in Bill’s memory, will contribute to the creative life of the School of the Arts, English and Drama and the experience of the students.

Click here for full details.

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MOOC 1: Unfelt Flames of Kate Leone

The first week of my first MOOC has blown by, and already I feel like I have grown as a poet. The feedback is invaluable. The videos, taught by instructors as diverse as the genre, have rich insights to share.

Just being part of a dynamic, writing community has fired me up. I am on fire—aflame!—for this MOOC, and MOOCs in general. I think you can still join this Massive Open Online Course. We are in week #2 and the deadline for submission is Sept. 5. Plenty of time!

Last week the assignment was to write a persona poem from the viewpoint of someone significant in history. I chose Kate Leone, one of the youngest victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Because of that industrial disaster, worker rights changed drastically.

So here is my assignment #1, and now on to assignment #2.

Unfelt Flames of Kate Leone

The beginning and the end

are the same moment for me

today when the flames around us

engulf the unfelt flames in my heart

and my future, my dreams and tomorrows—

and God, us and them—

and everything I know—

in a moment, turns to ash.

 

I am on fire—aflame!

for life, for the butcher boy

and for my expected $7

earned from my 52 loyal hours

spent cutting shirtwaists no longer in fashion

for ladies I will never know

and as the lady I will never be

in a moment, turns to ash.

 

Saturday night—and freedom!

approaches with the fire that blisters

the blisters that I fussed over this morning

on my tired end-of-the-week fingers.

Ignorant, I blindly wasted this day.

I let it spin by, unseen, my eyes glued on the end

where I follow the crowd, not to death, but to pay that

in a moment, turns to ash.

 

I have pined for the moment where I can be on fire

eager for the promised kiss that now wastes

poised on my lips, parted not from a sigh, but a cry

as the unfelt flames of my youth are consumed

by the conflagration that surrounds us all.

Dawn rose with it’s usual promise of life

never hinting at an end at the end of a day that

in a moment, turns to ash.

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Review: Small Spirits by Marge Simon

Dolls: replicas of people made of cloth, clay, wood, bone, porcelain… used for religion, ritual and play. From the wooden paddle dolls left in Egyptian tombs in the 21st century BC to the plastic, highly stylized dolls of today, these replicas of people hold a unique place with us as something we both cherish and fear. Marge Simon captures that duality with her poetry collection, Small Spirits: Dolls of Darkness.

With haunting illustrations by Sandy DeLuca, Small Spirits explores the many personalities, often split, of dolls. Some of her dolls have dark intent. Malignancy is woven through the verse as their voices travel to the reader. Particularly the poem, Vanessa’s Fae Doll, chilled me as the doll speaks to us of her recent deeds. Another terrifying example of this is simply titled Hair.

Other dolls, like those in Refuse of the Cotton Club and Mummy Doll, are for remembering. Loss and regret flow from the words along with a sense of preservation. The dolls in these poetic stories are monuments to children, and lives, now past.

A history is told in Small Spirits. The voices whisper past porcelain lips—comforting, threatening, memorializing—small voices for small spirits that sit among us.

Whether they are worn from love or preserved untouched, Marge Simon’s dolls refuse to be depreciated playthings. They represent us, women, in all our diversity.

Sometimes victim, sometimes victor, these dolls are as diverse as the women and girls who hold them. Without judgement, Marge Simon explores that polarity of the feminine, and allows them voice.

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Interview with Matador’s Editor in Chief, JT Lachausse

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Matador Review’s Editor in Chief, JT Lachausse.  Matador Review is an excellent publication covering alternative art and literature. I share their submission opportunities here when I see them because they seek the cutting edge, the unusual and the experimental. That’s how we evolve—by breaking barriers and seeking different vistas. I support evolving.

Submissions are still open for their Fall 2017 publication.

 

The Matador Review began in January 2016 by a team of three. Who were the three that began TMR and what is the story?

Matador Editor in Chief, JT Lachausse

JT Lachausse—The editorial board: JT, Shayne, and Mandy. We’re best friends from childhood, having connected online through an arts website. Years down the line, we finally met up and moved to Chicago as a gypsy unit. During a wintertime school vacation (2015), we spent two weeks writing and illustrating in a Washington mountainside cabin (romantic, I know). It’s there that we had this thought for an online magazine.

For us, there was something missing—particularly regarding style—from the long list of publications: a distinctive home for the “alternative”. While there’s PANK and Bat City (our faves), we wanted something half-art/half-literature and totally free; free to submit to, free to read, free of advertisements. You’ll find plenty of magazines that bill themselves as weird, punk, quirky, so on and on … but alternative is its own sort of niche.

Your website describes TMR’s purpose as promoting “alternative work”. Can you define what TMR means by “alternative work”?

JT Lachausse—From our About page: “‘Alternative’ is a way of voice and experience. It is the distinction from what is conventional, and it advocates for a progressive attitude.”

It does not necessarily mean risque or outlandish or weird; it calls for writers and artists to submit their most unique works—especially regarding style. Even the most ordinary of plots can be told in peculiar ways.

Officially past your first year publication mark, how do you see TMR maturing?

JT Lachausse—Our first web design was even more minimalist than it currently stands. I picked up some coding chops and have since been expanding the digital experience, while Mandy has been working alongside the board to expand returning readers. But none of this comes from thin air—we keep our ears to the ground. If our submitters and readers suggest something, we take it into serious consideration and try to implement.

People are sharing Matador stories. Strangers are connecting and engaging because of art. In our baby days, it felt like speaking into a void—but that’s a part of the process. Most publications start with no backers and no subscriber database besides family, friends, and whoever else you can bargain with on the street. It’s a proving grounds, and we’re still in it. We sort of love it. I think that tenacity shows through each issue.

What has been the biggest challenge for TMR? How was it overcome?

JT Lachausse—As I mentioned, visibility was a struggle. But we trusted that good art and literature would draw attention, so our first step was reaching out to creators—diverse, exciting writers and artists. The next step was critical, because most publications fail at this: staying connected to our contributors. This is our family, and we took a chance on each other (especially as a fledgling publication). We want to be supportive beyond the release.

Ultimately, we don’t much care for PR strategies. We just want to share our work again and again, and brag about our creators. I suppose it’s very simple.

Recently you’ve opened a submission call for your Fall 2017 issue. What are you hoping to see?

JT Lachausse—We want what you haven’t seen. Allow me to be dramatic: Imagine that every piece of art is represented by a stone. Many stones make up the mountains and buildings, but even more hide beneath the surface. We are so familiar and fond of the overground rocks, but in the caves and oceans-deep, there are stories that tell things wildly. Desperately, furiously, without great laborious sanitizing or editorial puncturing.

Art that seems ridiculous, haughty, aggressive and pathetic. Amateur hour, disjointed comedy, horror shows, family debacles that at first glance seem like New Yorker material, but upon closer inspection offends every cornerstone of “fine storytelling”. Not everyone will like it. And that is entirely the point. If you find your pebble at the bottom of a canyon, bring it on over.

Where do you hope to see the TMR five years from now? How do you think you will achieve that?

JT Lachausse—Precisely the same position, but with more friends to share with. You make friends, and keep those friends, by being a good friend. So Matador will be a comrade, and we won’t scratch for something more.

Please tell me how readers can find, become involved with and support TMR?

JT Lachausse—Readers are more than welcome to visit our site, matadorreview.com, to read our just-released Summer 2017 issue. They can also sign up for our newsletter at http://www.matadorreview.com/subscribe, and follow our social media channels: Twitter (@matadorreview) and Facebook (@matadorreview).

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Meet, Greet & Eat with DeLois Jackson

DeLois Jackson is another one of the authors appearing at the upcoming Author Meet, Greet & Eat at Cafe Bienville on Aug. 19 from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. She is the inspirational author of  “FAITH: My Walking Cane to Glory,” a book that seeks to foster Christian growth and godliness.

Focusing on the issue of faith, Jackson leads the reader through a consideration of allowing God’s master plan to shape each day. She shares her personal trials and claims the joyful results of a faith-filled life. She has been writing over a decade, and is in the process of writing four more books.

A graduate of Freedom Bible College and Seminary, she obtained a Doctorate degree in Ministry and is currently serving as the President, of the Emerald Coast Branch-Freedom Bible College and Seminary in Crestview, Florida.

She is retired from the Department of Defense, and can now spend more time writing. She is the founder and CEO of Alpha and Omega Christian Learning Center, Inc. What began as a business thought many years ago, is now a reality where her company is serving children and families in Okaloosa county and surrounding areas with affordable childcare, before and after school programs. She currently lives in the community in which she serves, Crestview.

What inspired you to become a writer?
DeLois—For me to answer this question, I would like to change the wording to “WHO
inspired me to write?” Although writing a book was something I always wanted
to do; however, I didn’t know how to start the journey. The Holy Spirit inspired
me to write.

One day, I had an unction by the Holy Spirit to write a book on
FAITH, and I gave it the subtitle, “My walking Cane to Glory.” I really enjoy the
process of putting pen to paper, and framing words and stories together, in
hopes of encouraging others.

What has been the biggest challenge and triumph of your career?
DeLois—Marketing myself and my book has been my biggest challenge.

Biggest triumph? Not only getting my book published but also, getting my book reviewed by Freedom Bible College and Seminary Book Committee, and approved to be used in the college for one-credit hour, which complements another course as a lab. As an author/writer I felt accomplished!!!

What do you hope to achieve with the Author Meet & Greet?
DeLois—In addition to inspiring potential authors to follow their life-long dreams to write, I hope to achieve with the Author’s meet, greet and eat event a positive, engaging
interaction with the authors I meet, and a great opportunity to network with like-
minded people. In addition, to sharing some incredible moments with readers
and authors, and get new authors perspective on their work, and to develop new
relationships.

What is your advice to new writers?
DeLois—My advice to writers is to not take your writing gift to the grave with you. Make time daily to journal your thoughts, and eventually, your book will be written.

Please include links to your social media and blogs so we can find you.
DeLois—It has been awhile since I have updated my links; however, I will be updating my links soon and will be able to forward them to you.
Facebook: delois.jackson.5 or www.tan-denterprises.com

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