Welcome! Haunted Waters Press contributor Alexandra Weiss sat down with us to share a bit about her poetry and her writing life. Alexandra is the author of start pristiq sunday featured in the 2020 issue of From the Depths. You can also find her poem no more childhood left in the pages of SPLASH! Enjoy!
Hard to say, but if I had to pick, I have Alone by James Joyce tacked above my desk. One of my best friends growing up wrote it out for me in nice handwriting, and it just became imbued with all the closeness and urgency of being friends with someone throughout adolescence.
How long did it take you to find your voice in your poetry? Do you look back on your early writing and see the ways in which you have grown as a writer?
I'm very much still finding my voice! When I look back at work, even from just a few months ago, I'm surprised by how much the length of what I write and the imagery I use have changed. I'm not sure if I'll ever really find a "set voice," or maybe I already have but can't tell because the things I write are fairly confessional, so whatever I end up writing feels the same as the voice in which I think.
I miss the accountability and unspoken community that comes from pouring your heart into your laptop surrounded by strangers and bagels and white noise.
We’d love to know more about your process for writing poetry. Do you sit down to write on a schedule, or rush for a pen and paper when an idea strikes?
I schedule prose writing but write poetry in short panicky bursts. Sometimes I'll go months without really feeling the need to write poetry, and it makes me sad when that happens. I'll collect ideas, and try to write, but it's just not the same. During those times, I try to write other things like fiction or academic work instead. Then, like it was never gone, I'll have this sudden feeling of pressure to write a poem, and it'll be all I can think about until I've set it down. Also, I type everything because I sometimes I can't read my own handwriting!
Do you find your poetry driven more by truth or fiction? How much personal experience makes its way into your writing?
100% truth. For me, writing poetry is so tied up in my emotional state that if I try to write fictional poetry, I get this horrible feeling of like ... grating inexactitude? It just feels off when I write it.
What advice do you have for the self-conscious aspiring poet?
Even though it's scary to put yourself out there, it gets easier the more you do it. Try not to take rejections personally, even though it's hard. I take them personally too, I think everyone does, but it's good to at least remind yourself that they're not.
Writing is already a fairly solitary endeavor. How would you say the pandemic has affected you as a writer?
I find it much harder to concentrate because I used to be a Coffeeshop Writer. In my apartment, especially in winter, I might write, or I might watch an entire season of 90 Day Fiancee and forget what day it is. I miss the accountability and unspoken community that comes from pouring your heart into your laptop surrounded by strangers and bagels and white noise.
When you’re not writing poetry, what might we find you doing?
I'm in grad school, so probably trying not to panic over my thesis!
What are you reading right now?
Left Hand of Darkness
What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
I'm not really sure how to formulate this as a motto, but, as the oldest living woman in my family with a BRCA mutation, I try to live in such a way that my younger relatives and others dealing with that kind of thing can look at me and see that if they test positive someday, that it'll be okay, even though it's rough sometimes.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don't be so shy: share your work and ask for feedback.
Lightning Round with Alexandra Weiss