Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Interview with Gloria Mindock
Gloria Mindock is no novice to the world of the small press. Between 1984 and 1994 she was the editor of the “Boston Literary Review,”, and ran a poetry series “BLUR READS.” Gloria has had a couple of chapbooks of poetry published, and her work has appeared in a number of journals such as: PHOEBE, RIVER STYX, BIG HAMMER, etc…
For over 34 years she has been involved in theatre, acting in plays, opera and musicals, and has received grants from the Polaroid Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Mass. Cultural Council, and the Somerville Arts Council. I talked with Gloria on my Somerville Community Access TV Show: “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”
DSH: Gloria. I have called you a holy fool. Like all of us in the small press you put your own money and time into your enterprise with little compensation. Why do you do it?
GM: I love it. I love to give a voice to established and emerging writers. My main goal with the Cervena Barva Press is to bring writers’ work from other countries over here, because we have a lack of translations. My favorite writers come from Eastern Europe and South America. I just don’t see that type of style here.
DSH: You are an accomplished playwright, and poet. How do you define yourself?
GM: Right now as a poet. I am into political poetry. I pretty much retired from the stage. My interests have gone to writing.
DSH: Do you get anything out of writing that you didn’t get out of performing?
GM: That’s a hard question. I love performing. That’s my first love. There is nothing like that rush, that high…there is nothing like it. With writing my high is a little different. When I share my work at poetry readings it is really wonderful but different.
DSH: Can you talk about the beginnings of the “Boston Literary Review” and your involvement?
GM: It started in Somerville in 1984. The scene back then was not as strong as it is now. There were pockets of writers I think. I think it is stronger now. Everywhere you go there seems to be writers.
Gary Duehr and I started the “Boston Literary Review.” It lasted 10 years. It ceased publication because we went different directions in our life. It was a wonderful experience while it happened.
DSH: Any poets of note you published over the years?
GM: Eric Penkey, Gary Fincke, and William James Austin. Austin is very special to me. We are going to publish him to see how he changed…developed. He’s like my little baby (laughs). Don’t tell him that! He’s teaching at the State College in Farmingdale, N.Y.
DSH: In your collection “Oh, Angel,” and in your work in general, you deal with themes of death. Can you talk about that?
GM Death is a very heavy topic. I have always been fascinated about how different cultures handle death. Some cultures will let birds peck the corpses up. Others wrap the body up. Of course I have lost a lot of people close to me due to death.
DSH: Do you believe in an afterlife?
GM: I’d like to believe there is an afterlife. And I believe in angels. Just a peaceful afterlife is how I would like to think of it. I do believe in God. I have a very strong faith. I don’t go to church though.
DSH: So you are not into organized religion?
GM: I still consider myself a Catholic. I still love the ritual of the Catholic Church. I just don’t attend church.
DSH: Do you consider yourself a political poet?
GM: Yes. I write about the atrocities of the world. I have been working on poetry about the atrocities in El Salvador. When I was in college I worked with a priest with some refugees from El Salvador. That’s when I became very interested. I couldn’t stand what was going on there. The government would do things like hang body parts of dissenters from trees.
DSH: Do you think poetry can have a role in changing things?
GM: Definitely. I think people are listening to poetry more. Like George Held (whose chapbook we published) and people like him are making a difference. Even the simplest of poems can stimulate change. I think it is very important…writing of all sorts. We have to speak out.
DSH: You have a particular affinity with Eastern European writers. Are you a Slav yourself?
GM: I have a little Polish in me. That’s as far as it gets. The writing from Eastern Europe, which was under Communist rule for years, is amazing. The use of it, the way they put words together, the emotion. When I read their stuff I feel like I have a home. It makes me tick. I read everything I can. It is so different from what you get here in America.
DSH: How is it for a woman writer in the male dominated small press?
GM: I have had no problems.. Everyone has been very nice. Once-in- awhile, a writer will make me pull my hair out. That comes with the territory. I know how to stay professional. I don’t give in if I don’t want to. Maybe the big publishers have a problem with male dominated scene. In terms of getting help from other small press publishers—they have been very helpful.
DSH: Who have you been influenced by. Any role models?
GM: Definitely. Neruda. I just love him. My mother always painted, and poetry was always around me. I always had that artistic background. My dad taught 7th and 8th grade English. There are a lot of artists in my family. My sister is a musicologist. My parents are my biggest influence.
DSH: Are you in any particular school of poetry?
GM: No. It’s hard to classify me. Experimental? Sometimes really weird stuff. Maybe lyrical.
DSH: You have a wonderful online newsletter “Cervena Barva Press.” “Cervena Barva” publishing is another enterprise of yours. Can you talk about these?
GM: I wouldn’t have this newsletter if it wasn’t for my partner Bill. He works hard for me, doing all the HTML stuff. He also prints out our chaps. In the newsletter I like to list readings in the area and overseas. I always have interviews.
I also have a poetry postcard series, and we have published a number of chapbooks.
We have a feature “Lost Bookshelf,” that sells books online for writers. I want an outlet for writers to sell their books.