M. Stone is a fiction author and poetess dear to formercactus and half Twitter-sphere (and this simply because the other half hasn’t known her yet). Her micro story Assisted Living has appeared in our Issue 4, while her poem Measured Healing is scheduled for Issue 10 (July 15). Stone’s debut micro-chapbook Evolving God can be purchased online here.
What follows is a selected history of her published works:
1. You’ve had a conspicuous number of poems published everywhere, online and on paper, and readers at large love them (your Twitter feed being an example of this), yet you keep putting out more and more and more work. It sounds easy, sounds being the keyword. Is there a secret to your productivity, other than the old BIC (Butt In Chair)?
When I threw myself wholeheartedly into the process of writing, revising, and submitting poetry last year, I was emerging from a chronic, debilitating depression. As that darkness lifted, my entire way of seeing the world around me changed, and I found that poetry could help me express that. Poetry was something I’d neglected for a long time, but as I emerged from the depression, it called to me. It welcomed me. With the poems I wrote, I celebrated my nascent wellness, and I mourned the time I lost to depression. I delved into pieces of my past that were too painful to address before. But I realize that the pace at which I’ve been writing in the last year isn’t sustainable, and I honestly wouldn’t want to try to keep up this level of productivity. I’ve developed more trust in my own creative process and now understand that taking a rest from writing is fine. A period of dormancy is fine. So while I won’t be writing and submitting as many poems, my goal is to become a better poet with each new piece that I do write. There is always more to learn.
2. Are there any taboo subjects for you, matters you would never turn into a poem either because they mean too much to be put into words, or because you worry about how people might interpret them?
When I write personal poetry, I make every effort to respect the privacy of those I love. Writing poems can be an incredibly cathartic process for me, especially in coming to terms with events from my past, but I don’t want to wound others in doing so. So if I feel a poem is becoming too abstract as a result of my efforts to protect a person I care about, then I’ll often consider that topic off-limits for my writing.
3. How does a day in your poem-writing life looks like?
Some days I write nothing at all, and some days I manage to scribble down a few lines before setting them aside and letting them percolate a bit more in my mind. I tend to get the first draft of a poem down fairly quickly, and then I take more time revising it. Every day, I read, which I consider crucial to the writing process. I don’t believe a person can be a good writer without also being an avid reader. There are so many amazing literary journals publishing such fantastic work right now; I wish there were more hours in the day so I could read them all! I’m a huge fan of the writing community on Twitter, so I make time to check in there every day and see what others are working on. During the past several months, most of my writing time was spent compiling poems for two collections: Lore, a standard chapbook, and Evolving God, a micro-chapbook, so I was focused more on the themes of those collections rather than writing stand-alone poems.
4. Do you remember what was the very first poem you’ve written? What came of it?
My sixth-grade teacher got me interested in poetry when she introduced our class to Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Then my mom, who has always been incredibly supportive of my love of books, bought me a collection of famous poems, and that inspired me to write a poem of my own about hope. I let my teacher read it, and then someone ended up mailing it to our little community newsletter, and it got published there.
5. Cats, dogs, or neither?
A dog. More specifically, a shaggy mutt I adopted from the shelter. She has brought so much love and light into my life. She also patiently listens to me read poetry aloud and lets out an exasperated huff only if I’m interrupting her nap.
6. A saucer has descended from the skies and kidnapped a fan of yours in the middle of the night. The fan has been taken to an alien planet where a society not dissimilar from our own is in place, and has been made the Chief Commander over the whole planet. The first decree this fan of yours (who is, incidentally, also the most devoted and extreme of fans) passes, is to render mandatory to anybody, child and grownup, the reading of your magnum opus. What do you suppose would the aliens dislike the most of your work?
I hope this wonderful fan is enjoying their time on the new planet! I write quite a bit of confessional poetry, and I imagine that some aliens, like some earthlings, would debate the merit of that. When I’m writing personal poetry, I do try to ensure that it will still resonate with readers even if it’s specific to my life and experiences. I doubt I’m successful at that all the time, though.
7. You meet a wizard in downtown Chicago. The wizard tells you he can make you more attractive if you pay him money. When you ask how this process works, the wizard points to a random person on the street. You look at this random person. The wizard says. I will now make them a dollar more attractive. He waves his magic wand. Ostensibly, this person does not change at all; as far as you can tell, nothing is different. But somehow- this person is suddenly a little more appealing. The tangible difference is invisible to the naked eye, but you can’t deny that this person is vaguely sexier. This wizard has a weird rule though you can only pay him once. You can’t keep paying giving him money until you’re satisfied. You can only pay him one lump sum up front. How much cash do you give the wizard??
Not a cent. I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable disregarding this culture’s bullshit expectations of women and their physical appearance, so the last thing I’m looking for is praise or attention due to my level of sexiness or attractiveness. Now if this wizard could wave a wand and magically clean my house, I would throw all the money I had on my person at him.
8. What’s next for mysterious author M. Stone?
I’m thrilled that my micro-chapbook Evolving God will be published by Ghost City Press as part of their 2018 Summer Series. I also put together a standard chapbook, Lore, which is currently looking for a home. And I have several poems scheduled to be published in various journals over the summer, so I’m excited about that. After working on two poetry collections, I find that I enjoy centering poems around a common theme, so right now I have a tentative idea for another group of thematically related poems. And as always, I will be eagerly reading as much of the incredible poetry now being published as I possibly can.