NOT THE USUAL INTERVIEW: MELANIE LANE FONTAINE

Poetry Month continues, and with it the interviews! This is a special interview. I’ve known Melanie for almost a decade. We met at SAY THE WORD open mic nights in Niceville Florida. We have read at many of the same venues in the Florida Panhandle. We both left the area, but we have kept in touch. I’m happy to welcome Melanie Lane Fontaine, authoress, poet and old friend.

AYS: If you could be in a poem, what poem would it be and why?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I’d have to say “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost. I love the poem for the fact that it displays the beauty as well as flaws of human nature and how that affects the world around us. However, I personally see it as displaying my positive traits as well as my troubled side. I’m very passionate in my work, the things I do, and with the people I love, but I get emotional very easily and my inner demons sometimes cause me to become cold or apathetic after dealing with negative energies or toxic situations. So when I read this poem, I sometimes picture myself having a ball of fire in one hand and a snow flurry in the other. I look at it as a way of discipline and to remind myself that I am only human, I am not perfect and I am responsible for every action I do. However, I am also capable of doing a lot of good despite this.

Melanie Lane Fontaine

AYS: I do like Robert Frost, and I like the poem you chose, and why. If you were trapped on a mountain top but you could have one poet and/or artist trapped with you, who would you choose?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: This is the hardest part because I am torn between two individuals. For the poet, I’d say Edgar Allan Poe. I would love to hear and learn from his life experiences and pick his brain, learning from his creativity and inspiration process that he would have. I’m a hard lover and I love his themes of undying love and that he wasn’t afraid to go for darker themes people would deem scandalous for his time period. He is someone who influenced the Gothic culture I know and love still to this day.

As for the artist, I’d choose Kurt Cobain. He was quite outspoken and open-minded for his generation and I have always had a massive respect for people like that. So I’d like to have long chats with someone like that and learn from their ideas and creative process. His songs had deeper meanings to how he saw the world and how it is our responsibility to change it for the better. I’d probably be listening so intently to Edgar and Kurt’s conversations with me that I wouldn’t even notice that a rescue team would have arrived.

AYS: I guess there’s no reason you couldn’t have both, or split the difference and have half of each. That would be an interesting story. What inspires your own poetry and books? By what process do you craft it?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: My inspiration for both my poetry and books comes from life experiences and the different elements I’m enthusiastic about. I also use my writing as a way to build self-confidence and self-love. I was an extremely shy person when I was in high school and there were times when I felt like I didn’t have a voice so those poems and books became my voice. For example, my slam poem, “I Suck At Flirting,” I wrote that after I had my first serious relationship break up and when I had a crush on this guy I was friends with. I wrote it to explain how I was into him but didn’t know how to say anything, and I also wrote it to encourage me and other people to be themselves.

I am an extremely quirky person and I’m not into conformity. I’m basically me and if someone doesn’t like that, I should never pretend to be something I’m not to please others. I should still appreciate the person I am and know that there are people out there who would love me as an individual. It’s the same way with my writing. My writing teachers would always enjoy the fact that I wrote about things most people wouldn’t normally write about. My writing will make you happy, laugh, feel comforted, but it will also make you cry, make you question, and even make you feel disturbed.  I’d rather be real in my writing and be a comfort to someone struggling to find themselves or help them with experiences they have been through.

AYS: I do always remember you as a quirky person. Speaking of quirky, if animals could write poetry, what kind would you be, and what kind of poetry would you write?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I’d definitely be a cat, and I would probably write poems asking the dog why he always has to get into my litter box. However, in all seriousness, if I was a cat and wrote poetry, I would write poems expressing that even as an animal, I have a soul and I experience emotions just like humans do.

For example, I have three cats that were rescued as kittens and they have unfortunately developed PTSD from experiences they have had to go through. Tabitha and Dogma, were found as kittens huddling in a bush on the side of the road while their mother’s body was lifeless on the roadway. Every time I would cross a street or walk somewhere and they would see that, those two will start to become anxious and try to stop me by following me or meowing.

My youngest, Milo, was thrown out of a truck when he was a kitten, and gets very emotional and scared during car rides to the vet or travel or around new people. I plan to write a children’s book about the three of them one day to help people with childhood traumas and to help others understand rescue animals.

AYS: I have all dogs now, but I have had my share of cats too. I can totally see you being a feline. How and why did you fall in love with poetry?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: When I was a sophomore at the Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College, I was taking a class called College Success which helped incoming students prepare for dual-enrollment with the community college. My teacher had created a lesson plan about spoken word or slam poetry and since poetry was going to be covered in our high school and college English classes, she decided to show us a video of a well-known slam poet, Taylor Mali. That was the first time I had ever heard of the poem, “What Teachers Make.”

Let me tell you, this guy had guts, he had raw talent, he was fearless, he was confident, and he loved what he did. That’s the person I wanted to become. So I wrote my poems for the assignment but I continued to write more and my College Success teacher encouraged me to take the Creative Writing class that the college offered. My Creative Writing teacher was a huge influence on my work by guiding me and becoming a cherished mentor to my poetry and my story ideas, she helped me gain a lot more confidence in my work and myself. However, there was an even deeper meaning too.

There were two poets who were in the class who I formed friendships with. They were charismatic and encouraged me to always keep writing and work with different elements. I also had crushes on the two of them even after graduation. The male poet I worked with devoted a lot of time to helping me improve and explore my work, he became my first love. The female poet I worked with, she was always there as a support system and always challenged me in ways to be out there in my writing, she was my first female crush.

In my poetry and books, I also have hidden meanings of coming out as bisexual, which was something I knew about myself since I was a preteen, but struggled to accept for a long time. So poetry and writing in general hold very special personal growth and coming of age moments for me that I cherish and will always remember fondly.

AYS: If you were trapped on an alien planet but you could have one poet or author trapped with you, who would you choose?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: This one is fun because the poet and author I would choose is a married couple, Anne Rice and Stan Rice. In one of my favorite Anne Rice novels, Queen of The Damned, Anne puts her late husband’s poems as an intro before every chapter which explains a lesson or writes about the meaning of the chapter.

I feel like we would make a badass trio. Stan could decode riddles or metaphors to help us get through every level of the alien planet, and Anne and I could come up with the ways to escape and use stories and explanations we come up with to lead the aliens astray and make a misleading path so they wouldn’t follow us.

AYS: What do you see for the future of poetry?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: For poetry’s future and the future of writing, I see us connecting to past and current poets, artists, and authors. I see a world where different parts of the world are being affected by both positive and negative things. I see the future of poetry and art as a way to break down barriers built by the past and help the world understand others and bring back the gifts of acceptance and tolerance.

Our current century and generation is forming an artistic movement to express themselves and bring about a positive change. Everyone in the world is different and we should appreciate difference and uniqueness in every form. Two current artists I love listening to despite my personal music choices of metal and rock, are Juice WRLD and Lil Nas X. The late Juice WRLD had many hip hop songs about the struggles of life and how the world can be a cruel yet wonderful place. Before he passed away, I feel like he felt his purpose in life was to share a message to the youth of our generation about how life is tough but if you work hard enough and keep fighting, you will get to where you want to be and gain an inner strength you never thought you could have.

As for Lil Nas X, I respect him so much for embracing his uniqueness and having such self-confidence. I also admire how he isn’t afraid to break down barriers in his lyrics or music videos to show our generation that it is okay to feel how we feel, to express ourselves, and to love our differences and accept one another despite the harsh judgment we may receive. Poetry is always changing in the form of written words, books, music, and other art, it is basically the celebration of words and writing as a whole. We must appreciate and learn from its past just as well as we must appreciate and learn from its current styles for the future.

AYS: I didn’t know who Lil Nas X was until last week, but I love what he did with “Old Town Road.” Genius! But back to you, what’s coming up, and how can we find, follow and like you?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I have a lot of projects lined up for the summer. First, I have a few artists that I plan to do special feature interviews with for my blog. I plan to have my third novel in my trilogy, Hero: Based on the Diaries of Mel Leavitt and a True Story,  published before the summer is over and work on other novels I have written up so far, such as my grandfather’s war stories and Jim Morrison coming back to life as a zombie and finding love with a mortal teenage girl who is on a lost path in life in New Orleans.

I even have an idea about writing a novel about a vampire who lives in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee and his misadventures. I also have a new website up that you can find with links to purchase my books and read my blog at https://slamauthor25.wixsite.com/melumbra12. With any questions or contact, people and email me at slamauthor25@gmail.com.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She is a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at spaceandtime.net
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