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Fall 2015 Redesign: An Interview with Poet, Wes Solether

On July 15th, the BACKWORDS Press team gets the extreme pleasure of re-releasing the work of our Fall 2015 poets, Jeff Alessandrelli, Wes Solether, and W. Vandoren Wheeler—this time in collaboration with graphic designer, Maria Regine Cabbab.

In keeping with the continual expansion of our own artistic vision for the press, working with Maria on our Fall 2015 Issue seemed the perfect partnership for us at Backwords. We’re delighted to share redesigns with you all; it’s our hope that they’ll compliment and carry these incredible poems out into the world with a presence more reflective of their own unique style and skill.

Like we did last week with Jeff and with our Spring 2016 Issue writers earlier this year, today we bring you a short interview in honor of the Fall 2015 redesign—with poet, Wes Solether. You can refresh your memory of Wes's bio on our Author Page. And don’t forget to visit our Shop on July 15th to get a tote or tee featuring the new design!

Read the interview for a preview of the redesign below:


BACKWORDS Press: How do you begin a poem?

Wes Solether: I always take little words and phrases I have written down, maybe an idea or image, and try to puzzle them all together. From there, I use constraints to really let the poem expand and flourish. That sounds counter-intuitive, but I find that these constraints really open up space for me. It makes me slither through the cracks a little bit by forcing me to write around the rules I've set up. I find that poems that start as complete ideas tend to be hard to write well.

BACKWORDS Press: How long have you been writing?

WS: I've only been writing poems since my sophomore year of undergrad. I took some poetry classes with recent Iowa grad teachers and fell in love with the practice of writing. I did grow up working a lot on visual art and animation. I think that translates into my poetry quite a bit. I also used to make songs from Goosebumps books on a little cassette tape recorder as a kid, if that counts. Not sure what influence that has had, but I thought it was important to mention.

BACKWORDS Press: Which poets do you continually go back to?

WS: Paul Celan and Lorine Niedecker. I call them my poetry grandparents. I've learned a lot from them. Mostly how to write big in little poems. Josh Marie Wilkinson's Selenography and Frank O'Hara's "For Grace, After a Party" are some works that I always go back to. Charles Olson's The Maximus Poems and Aimé Césaire also stand out. I can't thank Norma Cole and Michael Cross enough for exposing me to so much poetry I wouldn't otherwise have read.

BACKWORDS Press: Why Backwords Press? What made you want to submit?

WS: Because it's so fucking cool. I love the idea of physically functional poetry. It's an amazing way to showcase poems as other magazines and presses move to the digital realm. And really small poems to boot. That's my jam. Usually I try and make my poems fit whatever place I'm submitting to, but I made my poem specifically for the BACKWORDS submission. I felt like the only home for it would be BACKWORDS. It would have been weird to submit that poem elsewhere.

BACKWORDS Press: Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media platforms? How does this affect your writing, community?

WS: I use Facebook and Twitter but usually only for posting my photos and submitting game suggestions to the Cool Games Inc. podcast. I don't think I use social media for much of poetry stuff. I don't find a lot of use on Twitter, in particular, outside of Submittable's Twitter feed. I'm really bad with being a part of the poetry community online. On the editor side of things, I really love connecting with my contributors for our press on Facebook. So, maybe I create a little community from that? I don't know.

BACKWORDS Press: Anything else you like our readers to know about you or your work?

WS: My press I started with my friend Pattie just celebrated our third anniversary. We specialize in little hand-bound chapbooks. You could check us out at if that sounds cool.


Solether's poem, “Squalls,” is one of three original poems featured by working writers in the Fall 2015 Issue. The entire Issue is currently available on our website in the Shop; however, the re-designed poem (in collaboration with Maria Regine Cabbab) will be released officially on July 15th, 2016.

Please enjoy this preview of the new design above, courtesy of Maria and the Backwords Press team.

A little about Maria—who we are equally pleased to acquaint you with. Maria is a Hawaii transplant now living in Portland, OR. Drawing is her first love, but, according to bio, she’s “in a long-term relationship with design.” Maria considers herself a thinker first and then a doer. “Basically I take my time to think things through,” she says, “but once I'm committed I'm all in. I love (to create) beautiful things with purpose.” Our team was deeply impressed with her professionalism, poise, and inventive sense of play. You can hit her up on Instagram at @mvregine, or visit her website to collaborate or commission some work with her.

Be sure and check out the upcoming interview with our final Fall 2015 poet, W. Vandoren Wheeler, in another week.

Stay Backwords!

The Backwords Press Team

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