Fall 2015 Redesign: An Interview with Poet, W Vandoren Wheeler


On July 15th, the BACKWORDS Press team had 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 these past two weeks with Jeff and Wes, 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, W. Vandoren Wheeler. You can refresh your memory of Van's bio on our Author Page. And don’t forget to visit our Shop today to get a tote or tee featuring the new design!

Read the interview below:

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BACKWORDS Press: How do you begin a poem?

W. Vandoren Wheeler: An Indonesian angel shouts all poetry into my ear. I don't speak Bahasa, so I start over with a piece of paper and pen. Or I go to my large document called "Grinding Dept." which is a bunch of single lines I gather from notebooks or napkins. Sometimes I'll find a new phrase that wakes up an old phrase, and that will give me enough for a new poem. Most often, it's a particular emotional state that I don't yet understand, a frustratingly fidgety glance at a person or thing from multiple angles, and that complex gaze becomes what the poem tries to recreate. And this last type happens rarely, but sometimes I hear/create a line, then write the poem that line is the end of.

BACKWORDS Press: How long have you been writing?

WVW: I would have said since I was 20, at the end of my second poetry class, but a few years ago my Mom pulled out a poem I wrote in 5th grade. It was a half-decent description of ocean waves (I grew up in the desert, and had only seen the sea once), and the last word of the poem was "Crash." That decision not to use an exclamation mark was when I became a writer.

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

WVW: Gerard Manley Hopkins, May Swenson, Larry Levis, and Emily Dickinson.

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

WVW: Poetry makes me want to retch when it requires a PhD and hours to parse. I'm not hoping everyone makes it as clear and simple as Billy Collins, but I do think it's vital to the art to find inter-class, inter-human relevance. I get bored by poems written for only for poets, or poems about vague notions of ineffability (might as well listen to Brian Eno and get some housecleaning done). Putting a poem on a shirt asks everyone to look at it. That democratic stance is healthy for us.

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

WVW: ...

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