Nolcha’s poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, Medusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her three chapbooks are available on Amazon. Nominee for 2023 Best of The Net. Editor for Kiss My Poetry and for Open Arts Forum. Accidental interviewer.
“My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats” https://amzn.to/3uEKAqa
“The Big Unda” https://amzn.to/3IxmJhY
“How to Get Me Up in the Morning” https://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Morning-Collaboration-Photography/dp/B0BF31V4T3/
TGG: Hi Nolcha! You once told me that you only recently began writing poetry. How did that happen, what is poetry, and what did you write before you wrote poetry?
NF: I’ve written all my life, but not necessarily writing worth reading. My mother was kind enough to send me some poems I wrote after I graduated college, and they were absolutely putrid. If I threw them in the ocean, even the sharks wouldn’t eat them.
Before I retired, I was a technical writer in the software and finance industries. It was a great career for honing my writing skills. But my audience was typically 0-2 people. Most folks only read a manual when tech support isn’t available. Not gratifying work.
Right after I retired, I wrote horror and fantasy short stories, until daily migraines were so painful, I couldn’t look at a computer screen. I had to take a break from writing for about a year.
I can blame a dear friend and fellow poet for pushing me into writing and publishing poetry seriously. That was a little over a year ago. I was recovering from the migraines, and my brain was Swiss cheese. I didn’t have the focus to go back to short story writing, so she suggested easing into writing again by writing poetry. To my amazement, literary magazine editors published them. Actually, I found poetry easier to get published than short stories, so I decided to stick with poetry. I sometimes think about writing flash, but then another poem wants to be written.
What is poetry? It’s better if I try to define what my poetry is. I write free verse – rhymes are accidental. I focus on rhythm (my strongest poems have a drum beat feel, almost dancelike or even chantlike), sparse wording, and a message gift-wrapped in silly humor. Here’s an example of a recent poem where the rhythm really works (published by Medusa’s Kitchen 08/01/22):
The window’s closed
to shut out wind song
so that none of my dilemmas
could clamber up the towel rack
to ride the breeze and flee,
but not before a pixie
of that opening,
and replaced me
in the mirror
with that wrinkled,
who’s now looking back at me.
TGG: What is your posture on rhyming poetry? Should sonnets be Shakespearian or Italian?
NF: My posture on rhyming poetry and sonnets is me in runner pose racing out of the room with fire sparking out the back of my shoes. I read works by other poets daily, and too many of them try (poorly) to conform to a form, which forces word choices that mask the meaning and are painful to read. Surprise me, make me laugh, but please don’t ask me to wade in rubber boots through a muddy poem.
TGG: What is your personal favorite poem by Nolcha Fox?
NF: I have two favorite poems because they both make me giggle whenever I read them:
I flit from diversion
fueled by caffeine
I’m so buzzed
I can talk to electricity.
(published by Medusa’s Kitchen)
Such a Sweet Child
What is that sweet child doing,
always digging in the sandbox?
Well, two hours ago
I buried the cat.
If I can’t
find the body,
I’ll dig a tunnel
out of town,
(published by Dark Entries)
At the rate I’m writing, those poems may be replaced with new favorites in a week or two.
TGG: The question was going to be, Where do you draw thematic inspiration for your poems? But you write about everything. So better: What do you have to say about an empty bucket of KFC, rolling across the street?
NF: I’ll answer the question you didn’t ask. I draw inspiration from a phrase or two in someone else’s writing that captures my imagination, from doing something mundane (like cleaning out a cupboard), from watching my dogs (oh yes, I write many, many dog poems), from prompts, and lately from editors like you who ask me to write to a theme (like Bigfoot). I’ve also recently been involved in collaborative writing, a wonderful way to spark new poetry.
An empty bucket of KFC
rolling across the street
is a chicken in disguise
going to a Weight Watcher’s meeting.
TGG: What has been your favorite reading experience in the past year?
NF: John Yamrus’ book The Director’s Cut. Funny stuff, and minimalist poetry (he’s considered to have invented the genre).
TGG: I get the impression from some of our private correspondence that you have spent time in the education sector. Is this a line of questioning you think we should pursue in this interview?
NF: I did spend some time in education, which taught me I was a horrible candidate for motherhood, but a great candidate for a horror creature in a 50s movie. This hasn’t stopped me from writing about family. Bur writing is easier than rearing.
You don’t have to include this question in the interview unless you want to. I’m fine either way.
TGG: The Gorko has published both serious and funny poetry. How would you characterize the poems you have submitted with us? If you did not, why did you choose not to submit grim, existential stuff to The Gorko?
NF: To me, The Gorko is a literary Monty Python. Outrageous, outlandish, incomprehensible with no caffeine, and generally over the top. That’s a compliment.
So, I submit poems that would make other literary magazine editors gasp and gag.
I probably wake up the man on the moon with my chortling when I write dark. Several of my friends contact me anytime my dark poetry is published. They’re concerned about my sanity.
I can happily submit dark to The Gorko, if you promise you won’t throw a shoe in my direction.
If I’ve ever written anything existential, I should have been drinking at the time. Even if I wasn’t.
TGG: In another interview I located on the internet (poetryminiinterviews.blogspot.com) you call some of your poems ‘questionable’. Can you elaborate? Because most of my own poems are highly questionable.
NF: I call them questionable because I suspect they should be buried six feet under instead of published. I’m my own worst critic.
However, when I’ve shared these poems, I discover I’m wrong about dressing in black and grabbing the shovel.
Being in community with other writers is absolutely invaluable to me. Their feedback has saved many a poem from an untimely death.
TGG: You have had two poetry collections published by Alien Buddha, My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats and The Big Unda. Why did you decide to send your work to Alien Buddha, and what was your experience working with [AB EIC] Red?
NF: I had my first chapbook submission out to Dancing Girl Press when I saw Red’s tweet that he was taking submissions, so I sent him My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats. Although he warned it would take up to a month for a response, he contacted me in about a week to let me know he wanted to publish it.
Meanwhile, poetry was pouring out of my ears, and I soon had enough poems for another chapbook, The Big Unda, which I submitted to Red. I wasn’t certain exactly when it would release. One day towards the end of June, Red sent me an email with the draft version of The Big Unda. It officially released July 15.
Meanwhile, Dancing Girl Press will probably release Why Chicken Explodes in the Microwave in August. They have a different publishing model and move at a more leisurely piece, compared to Red, who is a monster (in a good way) when he wants to publish.
TGG: Your poem ‘Hiding Inside’ begins: ‘1. Grey skies are a teaser / 2. Clouds mask the sun / 3. Masks pose a question’ and continues for 12 mostly staccato lines. This poem jumped out at me from the others in The Big Unda, and I may be flashing my ignorance of contemporary poetry, but why this structure?
NF: I wanted to take a whack at a list poem. For those of us with to-do lists, it’s crazy simple. After the first line, it wrote itself. I had absolutely no idea which word would come next or how it would end. Maybe I was channeling a dead poet.
It wasn’t until ‘Anxiety Milkshake’ (published in The Gorko 01/01/2023) that I attempted another list poem in the guise of a recipe.
TGG: Do you like cartoons?
NF: I love cartoons, which is odd because I’m not a visual person, although I think I’ve gotten better writing ekphrastic poems (a big word for writing a poem based on a picture).
My favorite cartoonist is Charles Addams, creator of The Addams Family. Cynical, sarcastic, funny stuff. I blame him for my dark side. Thank you, Charles!