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The Scrambler
1. I want to start off by saying thank you Didi for everything that you do for the
poetry/art communities both online and in print.
MiPo, Ocho, the blogs, the
podcasts, the radio shows- all of it is of the highest quality and you are one of the
people I look up to and strive to be more like in the publishing world/community.
Please share with any aspiring or established editors/publishers out there one piece
of advice that you would consider essential knowledge relating to the publishing

2. What was the inspiration for the online magazine
MiPoesias? How did that come

I always wanted to have a magazine. When I first went online, I somehow got
involved with poets and I also got interested in web design.  I had a V8 moment and
put them both together. Regarding the name of the magazine, when I went
shopping for domain names my brain was fried after trying a few different ideas in
my English voice and so I resorted to my Spanish voice and messed up and ended
up with a typographical error.

3. Tell us about your new endeavor- Oranges and Sardines.

I like publishing magazines that I enjoy reading and since I have been painting
more than writing lately and I have been buying a lot of art magazines from Barnes
& Noble, the idea of putting poets and artists in one publication bloomed. The title
Oranges & Sardines was inspired by Frank O’Hara’s poem “Why I am not a Painter.”
I am a painter and sometimes I call myself a poet. But I was and will remain a
painter first. When I die I want to be remembered for being a good mother.

4. In your book, When I Said Goodbye (published this year) most of the poems
appear to be autobiographical. A main theme that keeps leaping out from this
collection is metamorphosis, or change. Even the title alerts the reader to this
before opening the book. Is that a theme that you enjoy grappling with in your

The poems in the manuscript were selected by me because I thought they all fit
together and I guess I was right.

5. When did you start writing and painting? Why? (If there is a reason).

I started painting when I was five. My fist happy memory is smearing blue chalk on
paper when I was in kindergarten and a nun looking over my shoulder. It was
almost a revelation now that I think about it. I started writing poetry in my late
thirties.  Why? Because it was there.  It was there waiting like a little volcano.

6. Who are some of your favorite writers/artists? Who has influenced your work?

My favorite artists are Alyssa Monks, Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville.
My favorite poets are alive and well and most of whom I have already published.

7. Have you always painted portraits or is that a recent thing? What inspired you to
start painting poet’s portraits?

I have been painting since I was a child. I used to paint portraits mostly of my family
members then. I’d have my father pose for me and I’d paint his profile and when I
ran out of family members, I took to the World Book Encyclopedia and started
painting Presidents and such. While I was reading through the World Book
Encyclopedia, I also learned how to play chess and poker by the way.

I started painting portraits of poets because they are there.  I look at the moon
because it is there too. I once was asked this question in high school because the
professor wanted to know if I thought the moon was romantic and of course you
now know what my answer was.

8. Anything else you want to say?

Yes I wanted to leave you with this old Cuban saying which is “de poeta y loco, todos
tenemos un poco.” In other words, find what is inside of you and just do it. I like to
think of myself as the NIKE of publishing.   
Interview with Didi Menendez
April 17, 2008

This interview was done through email. Answers and
questions have only been edited for spelling, grammar, etc...
No content has been changed.
*Didi Menendez lives in the internet.
For more check out:
MiPO, Oranges and Sardines and her flickr stream.
Buy her book When I Said Goodbye
here or here.