Interview with PAMELA NOCERINO
What drew you to submit your work to RED SKIES?
I was drawn to your publication because you welcomed and celebrated work about the pandemic experience. How can I write about anything else when COVID is directing my inactivity, my thoughts, and my cravings. Its maniacal erasure of my typical life has forced my attention and creativity into its vortex. I'm making it sound negative, and of course it is, but it also gave me unscheduled time I've never experienced before. Once I settled into the reality of long, slow days, I realized I could be creative. (Important note of privilege - I received unemployment and transitioned to online work easily.) At first, I took watercolor classes on YouTube and sent colorful love notes in the mail. The actual mail! But I think it was resting that inspired me most. Being rested was foreign and ideas just started to appear. Sure, the ideas were about doing nothing, but that was novel to me! So, I started writing. My Covid Self felt rested and brave, and so I looked for places to submit (also new to me). And there was no one around to talk me out of it.
What is it like teaching both children and young adults?
Teaching 10 year-old public school children and 24 year-old medical students online has been my financial lifeline. It sounds like a lot to go from What Is A Homonym? to What Kind of Cough Does Lung Cancer Produce? but it's not really that different. No matter what age we are, especially right now, we are all trying hard when it's really hard to try.
What is your favourite performance? How did you begin playwriting and acting?
My favorite performances recently would have to be Cynthia Erivo singing anything, Jake Gyllenhaal's Across The Way online, Padraig O'Tuama's Poetry Unbound podcast, and Stacey Abrams speaking. If I may select from any time period, the instrumental part of Folgelberg's Netherlands song is Heaven to me, Tuck and Patty's song Take My Breath Away does exactly that, and anything by Carole King or Janis Ian. For Poets, I lean on Yehuda Amachai, Mary Oliver, Chen Chen, Nikki Giovanni, Tony Hoagland, Ross Gay, and Patti Smith and and and. Should I stop now? There are so many new poets I am just discovering online.
I began playwriting only a few years ago when a contest was published. There were so many constraints - time, number of people, setting, and topic. When I went to bed that night, I thought about how I wanted to see the short plays that resulted. But I couldn't sleep. Characters and dialogue started happening in my head and so I wrote it all down. I was a finalist for that contest, and in 2021 that short play will be staged at The Grand Theater in Georgia! That's how my playwriting started. The acting, well, it was a natural progression from passionate emoting in a large Italian, Chicago family, to finding my voice on stage in school.
Is community important to your work? Are there any small presses and magazines that you feel particularly fond of?
Community IS the work because everyone needs a sense of belonging. The poetry community is one of the most welcoming and supportive I've experienced. Twitter has an active, diverse poetry community that I can't stop reading. Everyone lifts each other up, helps with revisions, celebrates publications, and commiserates with rejections. To be honest, I'm getting most of my news in the last few weeks through these poets on Twitter. They have a way of responding and describing that somehow gives me hope against the atrocities our nation is facing right now. I highly recommend it.