Questions with...Mary McCall
Hi, it's Arielle and we're back with 10 Questions with...! We're
excited to have Mary McCall, a fresh and exciting new poet as our
feature this month. Some of her work was featured in our January
2010 issue, so go back there are take a look to see what we're
excited about. Mary gave such warm and thoughtful responses to our
questions and we know you'll enjoy them.
1. What or who gives you inspiration and
Alice Hoffman has always been one of my favorite
authors. I’m drawn to the element of magical realism, as
well as the art of finding the extraordinary within the
ordinary, and I try to emulate that within my own
writing. Of course, I always carry around a notebook
with me to jot down the random ideas and images that pop
into my head—usually when I’m grocery shopping.
2. Have you always wanted to write, or did you have a
secret desire for something else, like spelunking?
When it comes to writing, I almost feel like I didn’t
have much of a choice; I’ve been writing for as long as
I can remember. My first story was in first grade about
smiling teeth going on a picnic. But I wouldn’t have it
any other way. In other life, I think I would like to be
a make-up artist or costume designer and have the
artistic freedom to create characters through those
3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there
been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that
During one of my workshops, one of my classmates was
talking about a past poetry teacher and said that he
told the class: “If you’re writing a poem and ask ‘Is it
any good?’ then you’re not writing for the right
reason.” I’m paraphrasing here, but the point is true
enough. And I do believe that, however, I would be lying
if I said that past awards have not made me swoon-y. I
am very honored and delighted that one of my poems was
chosen for TWC’s Best of the Issue last month. I also
was a co-winner of the College of Arts and Science’s
Award my senior year of college for a short story I had
written. I write for the love of writing—but recognition
is certainly nice too!
4. When you're not leaving your poetic footprint, what
else in the world makes you warm and fuzzy?
My Snuggie (just kidding). I actually don’t own one. But
maybe I’ll write a poem about one in the future. I love
photography and reading stories to my younger cousins.
My MLA handbook also makes me warm and fuzzy (not
5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your
I really enjoyed Nola Garrett’s “The Dynamite Maker’s
Mistress.” The way she plays with the sestina form is
inspiring and fresh.
6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and
While I think there are those who would give the
Pushcart more weight, I believe that the Best of the Net
is quickly catching up due to the gaining strength and
popularity of online poetry journals. Both awards
signify great recognition and achievement.
7. Then and now. What poem made you start writing and
what poem do you absolutely love right this very moment?
What kid doesn’t love Shel Silverstein? I fell in love
with “Homework Machine” and years later in college, I
was still wishing for such a contraption. A great poem
just hooks you with an idea and doesn’t let go; it’s
always lingering somewhere in your memory. Right now,
one of my favorite poems is Galway Kinnell’s “Oatmeal.”
The concept of eating breakfast with famous poets is so
clever. It makes me want to share my ham sandwich with
Shakespeare and ask him about the inspiration for the
“Exit, pursued by a bear” stage direction in A Winter’s
8. Are online poetry 'zines a crushing blow to
traditional print 'zines, or are they the meat and
potatoes of the poetry world now? Also, which do you
I would argue the latter. I have been lucky enough to be
published in both, but I think that online poetry ‘zines
give younger writers like myself a chance to see our
work out there to be read and enjoyed by others and that
gives us a boost of encouragement in the tough world of
9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five
I’ll still be writing (though no longer about teeth
going on picnics, sadly) and doing my best to find homes
for my poems. I would love to be a creative writing
teacher someday and help my students discover and
develop their own voices.
10. What are the ingredients for a tasty poem?
Just as nearly every recipe requires salt, I think every
tasty poem needs a tasty idea. I love a poem that sends
my thoughts spinning and albeit, more than slightly
envious that I did not think of the idea myself. A dash
of risk to add spice.
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