Interview With ‘Apparitionist’ Author, Rogan Whitenails

Today I am pleased to share an interview with Rogan Whitenails, the author of Apparitionist. This particular piece of work and correspondence has been of great significance to me, as the collection touches on very familiar & relevant themes. I am currently absorbing it all at a slow pace, as some things must not be rushed.

The Book

apparitionist.jpgApparitionist
By Rogan Whitenails
Publisher: Indoor Fighting Press
ISBN: 9780953456635
Pages: 88
Genre: Poetry

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This unique book of prologue poems with frayed ends, rhyming couplets with obsessively counted syllables, at 6 by 9 inches may not fit into your back pocket, but you will want to carry its secrets around with you always. Together the poems form an existentialist novella about a man outside his own time and a study of empathy and pity. The front cover painting by Andrew Salgado is another secret, a parergon to the artist’s Storytelling era, which has never been exhibited. The book is introduced by Ned Raggett who offers his own thoughts on the Apparitionist.


Interview With Rogan Whitenails

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself? How would you describe yourself as a writer?

Whenever I greet people in the street, I’m likely to simper at them slightly as I say “Morning” or “Hello”, and then I invariably let out a weak laugh, which is involuntary. I’ve often tried to suppress this laugh, but can’t seem to bottle it up. It always comes out, a little nervous giggly sound, and, despite it only being audible to me, I find it infuriating. Then there are sides to my character that show me to be far less worried about public approval or validation, a side that allows me to cope well in an emergency, so that I can talk fluently to paramedics, and a side that can tear a strip off someone who’s upset one of my loved ones in some way. This disregard for approval is evident in my writing, but so is that irrepressible simpering laugh. I do have a strong sense of empathy, however, which is perhaps what defines my work more than anything, though I resist the didactic approach.

My speech patterns in social situations mark me out as an eccentric, and can alienate me quite quickly, and these ways of speaking mirror my literary idiom. I will often use highfalutin and bamboozling language in a social setting, and, as with that little laugh, I can’t seem to stop myself. But then in contrast, for example, someone will express some uncalled for annoyance with my driving, and, without thinking, I’ll get out of my car and hear myself shout in a Basildon accent, “You got a problem mate?” Going from eloquence to base inarticulacy manifests in my writing as bathos.

I know that you and I have spoken about Apparitionist, but could you please share some of your inspiration behind the collection for others?

I was interested in making use of several techniques in the writing of my book. I’ve already mentioned bathos. I find it a useful, playful way of wrong-footing the reader: just when they think they have me pegged, the prevailing colours in a poem will digress.

Colour was at the forefront of writing the poems, not only because I’ve always seen colours whenever I hear sounds, but because I’d made a decision to work closely with painters, mainly Andrew Salgado. Andrew’s style of painting is always developing, and he too seems to enjoy wrong-footing people, but essentially his style is recognisably gestural. I would write to/stalk Andrew, and he would occasionally reply, and my book took some if its shape from my thoughts about his work.

One other technique worth mentioning is a process that I call “Evanescing”. “Poets ninth removed from the Somme, deprived of generous hell, will glom onto trifles,” is a line from one of my early poems, and the motif that runs through much of my work. Of course I feel immensely grateful and privileged to have never seen conflict first hand, but I’ve often wondered what my role as a poet might be potentially. I wanted to write about conflict in our world, the devastation in its wake, but was unsure how I could go about this without appearing crass. I also wanted to stay clear of didactics. I came up with the idea of using this evanescing approach, which allows me to travel without moving from my location, at all times making clear that I know who I am and where I am, but seeing through empathy others’ desperate situations.

What has been the most challenging aspect of writing Apparitionist?

The words fall into place pretty fast when they do come, and so on a practical level it has been hard to get them down quickly enough on occasion, especially when I’ve been interrupted by prosaic but unavoidable activities like needing to go to the toilet or eat. In fact, there is much about going to the toilet in this book, as there is about eating. I explore why, oddly, notions of both promote strong feelings of empathy within me. It has something to do with how these bodily functions are related to milestones in our early development, and can be taken away in a stroke.

Likewise, what has been the most rewarding part of the writing process?

There was a realisation, after I had written quite a lot of the poems, that they were not simply individual pieces, but were instead forming a homogenous narrative about someone who is reviewing their life after their death. It was unexpected, perhaps, but felt very natural at the same time, and has sparked a new energy in my work: keep writing, revisit themes, and a wider story will emerge.

Do you currently have a work in progress that you could tell us about or any upcoming ideas?

Since publishing my book, I’ve realised that the reference point for my narrative has shifted away from the Apparitionst towards a different character, which I’m calling Flâneur-fabular. For anyone who is interested, this subtly new perspective is unfurling and free to read on my Blogspot.

Do you spend a lot of time reading? If so, what would be your favorite genre?

I do spend a lot of time reading novels, but because of my obsessive tendencies, I make painfully slow progress, and tend to get slower towards the end of a book as I re-read each passage. To counter this obsessiveness, I intersperse novel-reading with poems. At the moment I’m reading The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob in tandem with the selected poetry of Herbert Read. I like a central character that is profoundly introspective, I suppose, which one finds across the genres.

Do you have one book or author that you draw inspiration from and would recommend?

A poet I hold in the highest esteem is Gerard Manley Hopkins. He illustrates to me why poetry is the greatest art form. That’s my view. People will often praise a poem by saying it’s so good, it is close to music. Poetry is not “almost” music; to say that is doing it a disservice. It has an oral dimension and tradition, obviously, but its power lies in the fact that it makes use of quietude and is ineffably inside of you, as much like a prayer as a song. Other poets I like very much are Nizar Qabbani and Celia Dropkin, whose work is hard to find in print.

I’ve also been a long-time admirer of the lyrics and literary work, blogs etc, of Nick Currie, aka Momus. I find him fascinating, how much of his work manages to be simultaneously tender and unnerving. I write to him/stalk him sometimes too.

Can you please share something with us about yourself that we would not know from your bio?

People may be surprised to hear this, but I spend rather too much of my time wondering why I’m not more liked, why my work is not more recognised. I confess that I would like to be more popular, but at the same time, I can never compromise. No space but this thin place for me, as art’s consensii sits entrenched, but I will not mimic.

And I have to ask, as I always do, do you drink tea? If so, what would be your favorite blend?

My favourite is camomile tea, which I drink with the bag on its string left in the cup.


image1About The Author

Whitenails is a writer of prologue poems and rhyming couplets with obsessively counted syllables. Since the age of 21, he has suffered from a neurological condition that affects his balance. His book, Apparitionist, a study of empathy and pity, was published by Indoor Fighting Press in November 2017. Its poems build to form an existentialist novella about a man outside his own time. He is seen as an outsider, and is rarely published in magazines. His poems are more likely to appear in the exhibition catalogues of artists with whom he has established a creative bond.
 
Buy his book:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK

Follow his blog here.


I want to extend my appreciation to the author for this wonderful review and my copy of Apparition.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Please Hear What I’m Not Saying: Guest Post & Spotlight

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Today I am delighted to be featuring a very important poetry anthology, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying. This is a charity composition that raises money for the UK mental health charity, Mind. Editor & author Isabelle Kenyon has been kind enough to lend her time to discuss this collection today.


 

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pleasehearPlease Hear What I’m Not Saying
Isabelle Charlotte Kenyon (Editor), Karan Haveliwala(Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781984006646
Poetry Anthology
Pages: 231

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Synopsis

With over 600 submissions, poets from around the world put their pens to paper to create this anthology, enthused by a common goal to raise money for UK mental health charity, Mind. With poems focusing on mental health from a wide range of experiences, this book aims to continue the worldwide conversation about mental health.

‘These poems crackle with the electricity of experience and sing with the effort of rendering that experience in language. This is work that stands a few inches away from your face and tells you tales that shudder with a terrible beauty; these voices must be listened to because what they are saying is something that all of us, whoever we are, need to know.’ Ian McMillan

The profits from this book go to UK Charity, Mind.

Trigger warnings by chapter: Section One: References include war, depression, grief, alcoholism, bulimia, trauma, suicide Section Two: Sexual abuse, self harm, suicide threat, Borderline personality disorder, electro shock therapy, razors Section Three: Postpartum depression, hospital ward Section Four: Anxiety, pills, Borderline personality disorder, eating disorder Section Five: Poverty Section Six: Alzheimer’s Section Seven: Depression Section Eight: Therapy

Purchase links: Amazon.com  Amazon.UK


guest post

Thank you to Danielle for letting me guest blog today! I wanted to spread the word about the MIND Poetry Anthology which I have compiled and edited. ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ has recently been released on Amazon. The Anthology consists of poems from 116 poets (if I include myself!) and the book details a whole range of mental health experiences. The profits of the book with go to UK charity, Mind.

The book came about through my desire to do a collaborative project with other poets and my desire to raise money for a charity desperately seeking donations to cope with the rising need for its work. I received over 600 poems and have narrowed this down to 180.

I believe that what makes this anthology different, is the collaborative nature of the project – although I have had the final artistic control, all the poets involved are passionate about the topics of mental health which they have written about, and about the wider aim of the book to raise money for Mind. Truly, our voices are stronger together.

As an editor, I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I believe that the anthology as a whole is a journey – with each section the perspective changes. I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health and that the outcome of these last sections express positivity and hope.

I would love to share with you a few poems from the book:

Performance
By Sarah Evans

Everyday, projecting an invention of myself,
talking too much, speaking too little,
wrapped in layers of self-defence,
needing to be understood, not knowing
what to say, always perched outside
the magic circle of belonging,

poised at the party’s edge,
heart thumping, sweat crawling,
nausea pressing, world swimming,
longing to fit in, but reluctant to conform,
yearning for acceptance for
my unacceptable self,

this strange being, performing
amongst strangers.

Waste
By Sallyanne Rock

Immobile, I lay waste to days
Letting dust gather at my toes
Pins prickle sat-on hands
I wait, resenting daylight

Purpose passes by the window
Stillness stares back
From a crumpled pile on the sofa
Blanket-soft, nose cold

Standing to swallow cheap comfort
I face down the silent wall
Fruit furs and collapses
I watch it drip through basket holes

This poem was previously published for World Mental Health Day at https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com.

*Learn more about the project here.


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Isabelle Kenyon is a
Surrey based poet and a graduate in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. She is the author of poetry anthology, This is not a Spectacle and micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered, published by Origami Poetry Press. She is also the editor of MIND Poetry Anthology ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’. You can read more about Isabelle and see her work at http://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk

Follow Isabelle Kenyon: Facebook  Twitter  Instagram


I want to extend a special thank you to Isabelle for providing this post and the above information. I am a firm believer that mental health awareness is more important now than it ever has been. I hope that each of you will take a bit of time to explore this collection and incredible cause.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

wallflower(New)TheBook
Uncaged Wallflower
By Jennae Cecelia
Kindle Edition
ASIN: B01MF7SVQ4
Pages: 71
Genre: Poetry

Synopsis:

Uncaged Wallflower is for those who feel trapped in the thoughts their minds produce, unable to express them with the rest of the world out of fear of critique or disagreement.
For the people who need an extra dose of positivity in their day.
This is not a poetry book for you to read and relate to in a sorrow filled way.
It is for you to read and say yes, I can be better, and I will.


(New) Thoughts

Reviewing poetry is something that I continue to struggle with greatly. After all, it is a very emotional and personal experience. How does one sum that up in a manner that others can comprehend to the point of feeling? It is practically impossible for myself, so my poetry reviews continue to remain relatively limited in length though they are not so in heart, I assure you.

Uncaged Wallflower immediately presented itself in unique manner when compared to some of my recent encounters with poetry (I have been exploring of late). There were no outbursts of anger or sorrow that begged to be understood, heard or released. Instead there was a much simpler, and none the less powerful theme occurring within; Positivity.

“Surround yourself with people who don’t just ask how you are doing. Surround yourself with people who make an effort to make sure they are part of the reason you are doing so well.”

Broken into small and delicate doses of inspiration, Jennae Cecilia delivers reminders of hope and empowerment through uplifting words and wisdom. Lending a voice to those of us who often struggle with expression and our own fears of being heard or misunderstood, she offers promises of better things to come and the gentle reminder that we must live in the now.

“Because those are present moments and I need to exist there more.”

This is a beautiful collection that reads with magnificent ease and still manages to provide something profound. I could not have picked this book up at a better point in my life. While my time with the book with brief, my experience will be ongoing. Sometimes we just need to be able to step outside of our own head and be. Uncaged Wallflower makes the first steps into that journey feel incredibly possible.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a cup of Jasmine Oolong.

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

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