Thursday, September 13, 2007

Writer's Corner

Aleathia Drehmer

Before this week I did not fully understand the phrase 'Outsider Writer'. I tried to relate it to indie rock or underground hip-hop, something outside of the mainstream or below big business. I thought that this phrase would apply to writer's who were producing quality worker, but not seeking the acceptance of popular culture. This all might be true, but New York writer Aleathia Drehmer has shown me a completely different way to look at the phrase. For Aleathia it is more about perspective and observation.

The outsider can view the world in a very interesting way. He/She can take a step back and view the entire thing or zoom in on the tiniest shadow in the corner of an empty room. It is through their observations that the writer is able to create elaborate stories, or delicate pieces of poetry. Aleathia enjoys focusing on those overlooked details, extracting its essence, and preserving it for a the viewer.

Recently, Aleathia took some time to answer a few of our questions.

Orange Alert (OA): This year has been very productive for you having appeared in quite a few publications. How long had you been submitting your work before your first publication in Zygote in My Coffee? Roughly, how many poems do you write in week?
Aleathia Drehemer (AD): I started submitting work in earnest in July 2006 and had nothing but rejections. I must say that I was getting discouraged. I had really just gotten back into writing after several dry years after the birth of my child. So, I think my work wasn’t very good. At the time that Zygote in My Coffee took my first published poems, I had been exploring a new side of myself and writing about a darker time in my life. Brian really took a chance on me, and I will be forever grateful. I was first published in September 2006, and it has been gangbusters since. On average, I would say I write 2-3 poems a week, but I can’t say for sure because I don’t date them.

OA: Your peak creative hours are between 11pm and 3am, what is it about this time that inspires you? What inspires you in general?
AD: The elusive peak hours of 11pm to 3am are a dreaded curse really. I work the night shift as a nurse so I am always up at these times. I cannot sleep like a normal human being anymore. I am unsure exactly why these times are so lucrative for me as far as creativity. I think my house gets quiet after everyone goes to sleep, and I just put the tunes on and have the night air coming in the windows. I think the stillness of these hours is inspiring. I like the world at rest. What inspires me the most in the world are the things that people don’t readily notice. I find beauty and words in the shape of a man’s neck, the way water hits leaves, the smell of a storm, insects doing what they do, and anything that flies under the radar. I like watching people move about in daily life, and setting myself outside of it all.

OA: I've read that you have an energetic young daughter. Having several of those myself, I have found reading poetry to them can occasionally calm them down. Do you ever read poetry to your daughter? If so, what poets are preferred?
AD: Sometimes I read poems to my daughter, but she is still only five years old and doesn’t get into them too much. She likes my poems and I read her Mary Oliver and Robert Frost mostly. If truth be told, we read “Junie B. Jones” like it is going out of style.

OA: When I received the your RMP mini-mailer back in June, I was pleased to find a mini disc in there with your reading of "Rosewater". Do you ever perform public readings? Have you consider the idea of recording an album instead of or in addition to releasing a chapbook?
AD: Before doing the recording for the mailer .2 at Rural Messengers Press, I had read in public maybe three times. Two of those times, I had won a poetry contest at college and felt obligated to read. I am a whiz in front of the computer microphone, but in person I tend to get very nervous. Recently, Paul Corman Roberts of Cherry Bleeds invited me to participate in a reading that is going on in San Francisco in November.
I actually had not considered recording a collection of poems instead of having a chapbook. It is a great idea. I record many things at home but the quality is less than wonderful. I do have voice recordings of poems up at Hecale and will be on a compilation put out by Outsider Writers.

OA: Who are some of your biggest literary influences?
AD: My original writing influence was my father. He used to write poetry when I was a child and it inspired me to start writing when I was 10 years old. I love reading the works of Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, Wallace Stegner, Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, Erica Jong, and Jack Gilbert. I read a large amount of work by my peers as well, namely Karl Koweski, Edward Churchouse, Miles J. Bell, William Taylor Jr, Rebecca Schumedja, Zachary C. Bush and MK Chavez.

OA: What's next for Aleathia Drehmer?
AD: Well, let’s see. I have several publications happening for the fall and I am actively shopping around my manuscript for a chapbook of poetry. I have been branching out and trying my hand at short fiction as practice for someday writing the “novel”. I will be attending the Jack Kerouac Festival in Lowell in October and then hopefully doing some tabling at the Buffalo Small Press Fair for Outsider Writers and Tainted Coffee Press. I am part of the staff at OW and will be continuing to help run roundtables. I just plan on keeping the pen moving and learning more about myself.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
AD: I love coffee. Before I became a nurse, I used to sling Joe in Seattle. Any coffee from Africa is good in my book. I dig Kenya, Ethiopian Harrar and Yergecheffe, and Tanzanian Peaberry. I am also a lover of Americano’s and have been known to consume soy mochas in my day.

OA: Who are some of your favorite musicians currently? Does their music affect your writing in anyway?
AD: My music taste is all over the place, but I am really into Interpol, Ryan Adams, Norah Jones, Juliette & the Licks, Kaiser Chiefs, The White Stripes, Aretha Franklin, and Martha Wainwright. Music is very influential to my writing and I have music for my every mood. When I am writing a poem with a certain type of emotion, I choose music that will enhance that so I get flooded with feeling. Every happening in my life has a soundtrack.

For more infomation on Aleathia Drehmer please visit her website or her myspace page.

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