INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "HINTS AND ALLEGATIONS" & "OZ AT NIGHT" AMANDA J. BRADLEY
Hello Amanda, thank you for taking time with us for this interview. Tell us about your first book of poems, "Hints and Allegations" and what was your inspiration behind beginning to write poetry?
Hi, Kitty. Thank you for interviewing me. I appreciate your interest.
I made the first attempt I recall at a poem at the age of about seven or eight, inspired by the lyrics of a song I’d heard on the radio. Poetry writing just stuck for me. I read my poems at school assemblies, submitted to competitions for children and adolescents, and so on. The older I got, the more excited I got about how writers play with language or how they tell compelling stories with language, how words can work in many directions at once. Shakespeare was so thrilling to discover in high school for his love of language.
I didn’t start taking my own poetry very seriously until 2004, though. I have a tendency to trash poems I write that refuse to go somewhere, and not many had avoided the bullet by 2004. But it was that year that on a whim, I submitted a smattering of poems to some journals. Some were accepted, and I received encouraging notes from a couple editors. Hints and Allegations is made up of the poems that survived my periodic poetry massacres and the poems I wrote in the subsequent five years.
You now have a book out entitled "Oz at Night" tell us more about this book and the inspiration for it as well.
Oz at Night is my Master’s thesis project for an MFA I did at The New School plus and minus some poems. At The New School, I was exposed to a variety of approaches to poetry, both experimental and traditional, and I learned a lot from the poets running the classes like Elaine Equi and David Lehman and from the high caliber of student-poets I took classes alongside. Oz at Night has more of a sense of humor than my first collection yet still delves into ideas. It may sound really basic, but I like poetry that means something. Reading a poem should get you somewhere worthwhile.
Though poetry seems to be your greatest love, have you ever thought about trying your hand at a full-length story?
Poetry is indeed my first love, but I do write prose, too. I have a collection of essays and a memoir in the works.
What are some of your favorite genres to read when passing time?
I used to read a lot more novels than I seem to read these days. I love Margaret Atwood’s novels. Marge Piercy wrote one of my favorite novels, A Woman on the Edge of Time. I like some older novels, too, such as Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. When it comes to fiction, I appreciate a well told story. I read a lot of poetry, of course, and lately I’ve been reading a bunch of memoirs. I really enjoyed Patti Smith’s Just Kids. I like reading biographies of famous literary women such as Nancy Milford’s Savage Beauty about Edna St. Vincent Millay or Marion Meade’s What Fresh Hell Is This? about Dorothy Parker. I love to read collections of essays by poets. Poets have permission to be literary without being academic, and I tend to prefer their essays on literary subjects to those by academics. For example, Carl Phillips’ Coin of the Realm or Charles Simic’s The Renegade really appealed to me in recent years.
Who are some of your favorite inspirations in the literary world?
As I mentioned, I like poetry that makes me think. I also like poetry that teases language into new meanings, poetry that allures and provokes. Emily Dickinson is a major inspiration. John Donne. Wallace Stevens. I wrote my dissertation on Mina Loy, and she certainly inspires me. I was very sad that we recently lost Wislawa Szymborska as she’s a favorite. Of poets writing today, I like Carl Phillips, Mary Ruefle, Elaine Equi. I’m impressed by so many historical and contemporary poets, but those are some favorites.
You have a PhD in English and American Literature and teach at Molloy College, do you find that a lot of your students show talent in writing as well?
I currently teach literature, not creative writing, so I don’t get to see the creative work of my students and therefore can’t speak to that. But of the critical essays I read by students, there are certainly a few students every semester who clearly enjoy language and writing and who excel at it. Some certainly have the knack.
I saw a post from an Edward Kamont about your greeting cards. Do you work for a particular brand?
I’m glad you asked about this. There is a line of Hallmark cards with poems by an Amanda Bradley, but it’s not me. I don’t even know if she’s a real person or a creation of Hallmark’s. People often mistake me for her, but our work is extremely different. My poems would likely be horrifying on greeting cards. I’m not sure what the message inside would read, but it would be kind of like sending dead flowers. No offense to myself intended.
What is your next book and when can we expect it out?
I don’t have definite publishing plans for a next book. I hope to finish up either my memoir or my collection of essays this summer or both, and I’ll look for a publisher for those when the books are out of the oven. My second book of poems came out two short years after my first, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me a little longer than two years to publish a third book of poems. But I may surprise myself. We’ll see.
Do you have any advice you'd care to share with other authors?
The advice that comes to mind at the moment is write what comes naturally to you. There’s plenty of room in today’s market for all kinds of writers. If you like writing science fiction, great, there’s a market for it. Experimental? Awesome. There’s a market for it. You like to adopt personas? Excellent. Do it. Philosophical poetry? Literary fiction? Some combination of horror and romance? Go for it. You’ll find like-minded people who enjoy what you do.
Please leave us your links so we can get to know more about you and your works!
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