Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Inside the Writer's Mind - Interview with Cynthia Polutanovich

Welcome to another edition of Inside the Writer's Mind. I love reading the answers to the interview questions. I've learned a lot and discovered new things.

Today, I have Cynthia with me. Cynthia is a poet whose collections of poems can be found in her latest book Two Birds and a Wolf. Let's see what she has to say about her works. Cynthia is doing a launch of the book on her Facebook page and on her blog.  Please be gracious enough and stop by her Facebook Page here and give her a like and check out the launch.

Thanks for joining us. :-)

Welcome, Cynthia, to Inside the Writer's Mind. I'll be asking you some questions, sort of picking your brain a little bit to get to know you as an author. Thank you for joining me. Ready?

Same DiNamics: Writing can be a daunting prospect, what made you decide to share your poetry with the world? 

Cynthia Polutanovich: I guess, for me, writing has always been an inevitable prospect, but the thought of publishing it was daunting. I’ve been writing since childhood. I always thought I’d be a writer. But, once I became an adult, I went through a long period of purist artistry where I believed only in making art for its own sake. That may sound silly to some, but I was quite serious about it.  I’m not even sure exactly what changed, but that one day, I thought, yes, I still believe in pure art in that I believe in writing as though I will never have to try to sell it, but I am ready to have people read my words. And I’m actually ready to make a living only on words, instead of waitressing or plumbing or any of the many jobs I had. This internal change resulted in pursuing my M.F.A. in writing, then in a memoir, and now this book of poems. 

SD: Who has influenced you as a poet and what is your favorite type of poetry?

CP: Jack Gilbert is the most beloved of all poets to me, especially his book, The Great Fires. He’s so beloved that I begin this poetry book with a reverential, if slightly bawdy, tribute to him, His mixture of simplicity with moments of deep and true, almost surreal explorations of language is the most powerful and potent use of poetics in my book. But really, to put it simply, it’s his passion that brought me to his words and has kept me there. After Jack is Allen Ginsberg: Howl and Kaddish still continue to open up the way I write and think and live. With both of these poets, it’s crucial for me that they lived their passion. Their passion for life informed the way they wrote and their passion for writing informed the way they lived. They weren’t just sitting around trying to write poems that they thought would win them awards. It was life or death. They are my two giants, but after them, I’d say the poets who most affect me are Whitman, Ovid, Shakespeare, Anne Sexton, Bukowski and Mary Oliver.  

SD: What is your writing method in poetry? 

CP: I guess my writing method is the same as it is for all of my creative writing: I live and live and keep one ear (at least one!) turned to the muses and wait for words. My former graduate school professors would hate that I said that. But it’s not a way to be lazy. I write very regularly. But, my truest description of my process is basically that I listen. It’s actually a truly mystical pursuit for me. And then I rewrite. Then I rewrite some more. I am a zealous rewriter. But even in the revision, which we think of as being so practical, I never turn off that one ear that’s tuned to the gods. If anything, revision is mostly a practice of listening even harder.  
SD: Can you tell me a little bit about your book(s) without giving away too much? Why should I read it? 

CP: The first book I put out was a memoir, which is now being re-titled from Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad, to Impermanent: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad. The title explains a lot! It’s about growing up in a few trailer parks, my experience of fundamentalist Christianity, going through illness and death in my immediate family, leaving home at 15, and then moving around, eventually living in chicken wire shacks and school buses etc. in the mountains of New Mexico. The over-arching theme is how experiencing illness and death early on might cause a person to re-think the value of human constructs, the nature of romantic love, and the meaning of meaning. And, believe it or not, there’s plenty of humor in there even though it doesn’t seem possible from this description! I say all this because the book of poems, Two Birds and a Wolf, is really a companion piece to the memoir. The memoir narrative ends when the narrator (me) is 24; the poems take us through ages 28-39, the present. The themes are the same: love, sex, mortality, nomadic living, inquiries into god and meaning – but the settings are different. The two books also balance each other in that the memoir is prose, but it’s poetic, and the poems are poems, but they’re deeply autobiographical and sometimes narrative. Even the few poems that aren’t autobiographical are somehow still autobiographical. I also decided to include photographs of the places I lived while writing the poems, which is also redolent of the memoir in that they are both chronicles of place as well all the other themes they cover. 

Why should you read these books? You should read the books if you have an interest in seeing a female character take on the role of a quester-seeker. You should read the book if you are a person who seeks beauty and passion in this one short life. You should read them if you’re craving a journey. 

SD: How much of yourself is in your poetry?

CP: All of myself is in my poetry. I put every cell of myself into a poem. And then I re-gather myself to put every cell of myself into the next poem. And on it goes. That’s not to say I’m totally out of control in my writing. I have an education behind me that helps to supply me with the paradoxical approach of equal parts passion and discipline. 

SD: What advice would you give to an aspiring poet/author? 

CP: Never write for the sole purpose of making money. Only write if your life calls out for it. Only bother to write if words and ideas bother to haunt you. 

SD: Is there anything else that you'd like to share?

CP: Yes! I'd like to add that my poetry book and memoir are available on Kindle: It is also available for print here:

And I'm doing a launch for it today, August 21st, on my FB page:
and on my blog: launch will include a sample poem and a beautiful song by my good friend Najeeb Sabour, with whom I shared a room in the Czech Republic when I lived there – and who inspired one of my poems.
I think that’s it! Just thank you so much Dianne, for having this blog that gives writers a chance to talk about the thing they love. Thank you!

SD: Cynthia, thank you so much for being here and sharing your words with me. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview.

~End Interview~

Incredible! Poetry is something that I read when I want my soul to be touched in a way that a story can't or won't do. I've read some wonderful poems over the years where the poet is singing to my soul with his words. Poems that are true to the poets essence and very being are among my favorite.

About Cynthia:

Cynthia Polutanovich is a writer of poems, essays, reviews, plays, short stories, and memoir. She can be counted on to laugh at the wrong times and to dress inappropriately for every occasion. In 2010, she received her M.F.A. from Hunter College in New York City. She sometimes lives in tents and hopes to again be living in Eastern Europe by spring for her 40th birthday.

You can reach Cynthia via her different social media sites: Facebook Author PageOdes of a Trailer Park Nomad Blog; and Twitter- @cynthianomad. 

About Two Birds and a Wolf:

Two Birds and a Wolf, poems of the last ten years by Cynthia Polutanovich, takes the reader on a series of parallel journeys: the journey of the nomad, the journey of the lover, and the journey of the mystic. This collection functions as a companion piece to her memoir, Impermanent: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad, in that it’s a continuation of those same themes: nomadic living, love, sex, the gods, and a search for a beautiful life outside of consumerism. Two Birds and a Wolf is a collection of poems, which supposes that the true life force lies somewhere between devastation and ecstasy.

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