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The Scrambler
1. Congratulations on winning the 2008 Southeast Review Poetry Prize. Tell
us a little about the winning poem(s).

The poem is “GPS: A Fairytale” and its gist is man’s relationship with science.  
I got a GPS for Christmas, and while I found it positively amazing that it
“knew” my location as I drove through town, the idea of a satellite tracking me
was downright spooky. All sorts of parallels to God and rescue came rushing at
me then and the result was this poem. The contest at SER was the first place I
submitted the poem, and actually the first poetry contest I’d entered, so I
guess I was a bit like Goldilocks, only with all my stars lined up just right.

2. You started and edit a magazine called New Zoo Poetry Review- how did
that come about? What initially stirred you to start a magazine?

I honestly can’t recall my motivation beyond wanting to contribute to the
literary scene in my own small way, but I do remember writing to a number of
poetry mag editors seeking advice. They were incredibly generous, too, telling
me how to get started and what to expect. I love finding new work from new
poets each week in my little P.O. Box!

3. Who are some of your favorite writers? Who has influenced your work?

Oh so many! But the ones that leap off my tongue are Emily Bronte, Sylvia
Plath, Jack Gilbert, Jeffrey Harrison, Stanley Plumly, David Kirby, Barbara
Hamby, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, A.V. Christie, and
rising voices Sandra Beasley, Mike Dockins, Darren Morris, and fellow UMCP
alum, Sally Rosen Kindred.

4. What are some of the magazines (both literary and non-literary) that you
read on a regular basis?

I read only two magazines religiously from cover to cover: Poets & Writers and
CBS Soaps in Depth. Ha! I can only imagine what that combo says about me!

5. When did you start writing and why (if there is a reason)?

I started writing as a kid, but didn’t hunker down specifically with poetry until
college. My boyfriend suggested we take a creative writing class together at
Towson University and that class with poet Clarinda Harriss turned me on to a
world of poetry that sent me running to UMCP for my MFA (Towson didn’t
have a masters in poetry at that time).

6. Your poem “The Double T Waitress Spots my Poem,” juxtaposes the views
of a waitress and a college dean. Ultimately, the poem asks how poetry and
poets in general can reach out and relate to the waitresses of the world. Do you
have any specific ideas about how poets should approach that task- reaching
out to individuals that may not read poetry on a regular basis?

In a word, exposure. What I find is that new poetry students are shocked by
contemporary poetry. They expect it to be end-rhymed greeting card verse,
and when it’s not, they are hard pressed to understand it (or even want to). I
believe we can widen poetry’s audience by reintroducing and emphasizing
critical thinking, analysis, and vocabulary skill sets EARLY in school.  Poets
must do their part, too, to put poems in the hands of family and friends who
already support them but who are generally non-poetry readers.

7. Anything else you want to say?

I was struck by Stephen Corey’s advice in this month’s Poets & Writers: “If
you are truly serious about doing distinctive work that will make its mark,
slow down….Never to be forgotten once read – isn’t that what we must seek?”
Sound advice, if you ask me. One would hope that being prolific would be
secondary to producing great work.

Thank you, Jeremy & The Scrambler, for the kind invitation to chat!
Interview with Angela Vogel
May 27, 2008

This interview was done through email. Answers and
questions have only been edited for spelling, grammar, etc...
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