Thick With Conviction - A Poetry Journal
thick with conviction a poetry journal
 10 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 perspiration?

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 mediums.

3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that you've gotten?

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 kidding).

5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your opinion?

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 why?

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 Tale.

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 prefer?

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 submissions.

9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five years?

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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