Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interview with Sarah Frances Moran

Today I’m sitting with the talented poet, Sarah Frances Moran. She is the founder and publisher of the brand new, rising parvenu of a literary journal, Yellow Chair Review. Sarah, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your insight. Tell us a little about yourself.

SM: Well I’m a 33 year old, native Houstonian living in Waco, Texas. I’m an assistant manager at the local spay/neuter clinic. I spend my days with lots of cats and dogs. I live here with my partner and our animals. We have a small houseful.

JG: You’re billed as the Waco Poet. How does sense of place influence your writing?

SM: It really doesn’t influence my writing tremendously and honestly there are a ton of other amazing poets in this small town. I do think it’s important to be active in and supportive of your community so I do my best to do that.

JG: What’s the poem that hooked you? Did you ever try to emulate it?

SM: Langston Hughes’ “Genius Child.” It has always been my favorite. When I was in high school I carried around his Collected Works. That poem has always been important to me. I’ve never tried to emulate it though I’ve frequently made reference to searching for that genius child within myself.

JG: How long have you been writing? What is your earliest recollection of writing?

SM: I remember writing poems when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade as assignments. I didn’t begin to write poetry that was on my own terms until I was fifteen. So I’ve been writing longer than I haven’t been writing!

JG: You are, indeed, a brave soul, launching a new literary journal? What are your goals for it?

SM: Thank you! There are moments when I sometimes think “what have I done?” Mostly though I love what YCR is becoming. I want to see it continue to grow. It’s been gaining moment at a rapid pace and it would be awesome to see that sustain. Since it started I’ve added staff to assist me with the submissions. It’s become a lot of reading! I’m working now on getting funds together to start publishing chapbooks. I haven’t decided if it’s going to be in contest for(m) or open reading period form.

JG: Why Yellow Chair Review? Does the name have a special significance?

SM: Yellow Chair was the title of a poem I wrote in high school. It’s in the inaugural issue. There were many name ideas but this one stuck.

JG: What do you look for in a submission?

SM: Heart. I look to be moved. That’s the most simple answer. Sometimes being moved is laughing, or crying or just feeling like I can’t shake it after I’m done reading it. It stays with me.

JG: Social Justice might be the zeitgeist of our time. Share your thoughts on your Social Justice

SM: Yeah the web has bred a whole new species of social justice warrior. Lol. The social justice blog is probably the most dead aspect of YCR right now. I started it in June when the Supreme Court was expected to be ruling on Gay Marriage. Since then we haven’t done a whole lot with it. I’ve toyed with the idea of revitalizing it with the Rock The Chair challenge, merging it so-to-speak. Right now Rock The Chair is just the best poem of the week. I’ve considered changing it to the best social justice poem of the week. That’s undecided.

JG: What are you reading now?

SM: So much poetry! I’m also reading Go Set The Watchmen, Harper Lee’s book. Or maybe Harper Lee’s book who knows? So much drama on the authenticity of it. I’m slowly reading it. I worry it will ruin Atticus Finch for me.

JG: Opinions about MFAs?

SM: No opinion really. I don’t think those with MFAs are any more qualified than those without. I have a serious disdain for the literary elite. I think a lot of the times that falls into folks who feel their education makes them overtly special. Some will say it’s because I don’t have an MFA but it’s a core belief of mine. I don’t equate education with knowledge. They don’t always intersect well.

JG: Hindsight, but also extrapolation, might be the blessing and bane of writers. Any advice for
teenage Sarah? Advice for old Sarah (eons from now)?

SM: Oh god. We’d need to be here all day! I’d tell Teenage Sarah to be patient with herself above all else. I’d tell Old Sarah to also be patient with herself. I think the greatest advice ever though is to enjoy life and treat others with kindness. I’ve always tried to keep true to that.

JG: Do you have a schedule for writing, a preferred time or place?

SM: It’s very random. A lot of times I’m putting poems into my phone because something hits me and it’s all I have with me at the time. I’d like to say I have a more set schedule but I don’t.

JG: Tell me about Chihuahuas.

SM: They’re awesome? They’re these tiny little creatures with a hell of a lot of heart and they don’t take any shit. I have three. Two that are full and one that is a mix with Rat Terrier. They’re my family. They keep me sane. Nothing will ever be as loyal to you as a dog is.

JG: What do you want to be when you grow up?

SM: I’m pretty much living the life. I love working with animals and on the side I have this Review and my own work. I suppose if I could own my own full-time publishing press that would be living the ultimate dream.

JG: If you were throwing a dinner party who would you invite (Living or dead)?

SM: Stevie Nicks. I’d just love to sit and have dinner with Stevie Nicks. Just me and her. I think I could talk to her and it feel easy. Music and writing. I guess that’s not much of a dinner party but that’s what I imagined immediately with this question.

JG What are you working on now?

SM: On a personal level I’m always writing poetry. I’m sending out chapbook manuscripts like crazy. I’m slowly writing and putting together a chapbook of poems based off this video game called Fallout 3. It’s like nerd to the next level stuff. Three of those poems just got picked up for an anthology so that’s given me more motivation. I’m also dabbling in writing flash fiction.

JG: Places you long to visit.

SM: Pretty much anywhere I haven’t been. I love to camp. We do a ton of camping during the year. We’ve mostly focused on hitting as many state parks in Texas as we can. Next year we hope to expand that to other states. Aside from that I’d love to go to Greece. I’ve always wanted to visit there.

JG: Hardest lesson you’ve learned as a writer.

SM: To not take rejections to heart. A lot of times whether someone likes your work or not is completely subjective. I’ve had poems rejected over and over again and then I get this acceptance where someone raves about it. I think it’s important to not let those rejections get you down and at first they really bummed me out. Now I just move on and search for the next place to try or send to the same publications that have rejected when I’m allowed. Gotta keep on trying!

You can learn more about Sarah and her writing on her website

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