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Interview with MATT ANDREWS



What drew you to submit your work to RED SKIES? 

As the challenges of 2020 just kept accumulating, I found myself with more and more 2020-

specific poems in my catalogue. I have been periodically submitting to special issues and

anthologies grounded in the experiences of this year to find a home for that work, and when I

discovered Splintered Disorder on Twitter, I thought RED SKIES might be a good fit.

 


What writers have inspired you?

My poetry often deals with matters of faith and spirituality, so I am particularly inspired by

writers who engage with the complexities of the sacred. I have a long list of writers I admire in

this category, but a few are Scott Cairns, Stephan Mitchell, Eric Pankeny, David Craig, and

Franz Wright.


Also, because I don’t have an MFA and haven’t formally studied poetry, I appreciate writers like

Todd Dilliard who are very open and transparent about their craft on social media and help me

become a better writer.

 


What projects are you currently engaged with?

I’m currently in the early stages of my first chapbook manuscript! It’ll be a collection of poems

that wrestle with faith and doubt via the retelling of biblical stories.

 


How have you spent the year 2020?

Surviving one day at a time! My wife and I are fortunate in that we still have our jobs and have

been as busy as ever, so it's felt like normal life with a lot of pandemic-related challenges and

stressors added on top. Personally, I have tried to find comfort in little escapes, like writing, and

we have been trying to embrace doing more things together as a family.

 


How have you maintained your artistic skills during lockdowns?

I thrive with routines, so I have just turned writing into a sort of ritual. I have a period of time

early in the morning, before everyone else wakes up, where I dedicate some time to writing. That

doesn’t mean I write every day, but that I at least create space for it. I usually take a night or two

a week where I spend some time rereading, revising, and submitting.

 

What led you to begin writing poetry, and where was your first publication? How did you

resume creative practices in your life, and has your "traditional pathway" of work

impacted your writing at all?

I wrote creatively as I was growing up, all the way into college. However, I stopped once I got

out of college, focusing instead on my career, my family, and other obligations. I started writing

poetry again at the age of 34, mostly as a way of dealing with the sense of disillusionment and

spiritual malaise that had become overwhelming in me.


I wrote for more than a year without any real thought to submitting my work, choosing to focus

on the craft itself. I started submitting in late 2019 with the thought that I was likely to face only

rejection, but a few months later, one of my poems was accepted by Deep Wild Journal. Since

that wasn’t published until much later, the first poem of mine to actually be published showed up

in pacificREVIEW.


For my day job, I am a private investigator, and while I’ve had a ton of creative ideas come from

this, it hasn’t translated as often as you might think in my poetry. I do see a lot of strange things,

and those sometimes turn into inspirations for poems. I really have only one very explicit poem

related to my job, “Autobiography of a Private Investigator,” that I was fortunate to have

published in Orange Blossom Review.

 


What is your personal creative process?

My approach to poetry is very contemplative. During the time I have set aside to writing each

morning, I try to single out something that has caught my attention recently (a phrase, an image,

a metaphor, a memory, etc.) and meditate on it, paying attention to how I feel and where else my

mind might be taking me in response. Once I have the basic framework for a poem, I start to get

it down and then follow wherever the poem takes me. I then try to leave it alone for at least a few

days before coming back for editing and refinement, a process I repeat until I reach a final

version I am happy with. Sometimes it never gets there, although I still keep my “failed poems”

around, and every now and then I will peruse them to see if I have some new perspective or idea

to bring it the rest of the way.

 


Is community important to your work? Are there any magazines or small presses that you

feel particularly fond of?

I’m a pretty hardcore introvert, so I really haven’t been great about embracing the idea of a local

community of writers (not that 2020 would let that happen anyway), but I have enjoyed getting

acquainted with and learning from other writers on Twitter, and I have learned a lot from editors

who have been kind enough to offer feedback on my work.


I’ve read a few books from a local cooperative publishing company called Sixteen Rivers Press

and loved every single one of them. As for magazines, there are a lot of good places producing

really good spiritual-themed work, including Amethyst Review, Solum Literary Journal, and

Earth & Altar. I’m also a sucker for places that produce micropoetry, such as Alba and

GLITCHWORDS. Further, I have my long list of places that generally produce really good work

and where I hope my name will end up someday: Whale Road Review, Barren, The West Review,

Empty House Press, and a ton of others.




Find more of Matt Andrews with these links:


https://www.collateraljournal.com/poetry/photographyexhibitionandrews


https://www.kissingdynamitepoetry.com/matthew-j-andrews-another-failed-prophecy.html


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