Amanda Deo: I do sleep quite well, believe it or not. Since I was little I’ve been on a strict sleeping schedule. You won’t catch me at a bar many days out of the year past midnight. You also probably won’t catch me at a late movie. After 9:00pm, I completely shut down and am fast asleep. Of course, I’m also a morning person. I blame this on my family who was up early on weekends to go to hockey tournaments throughout my childhood.
I’ve always been passionate about language. It began with music, really. I spent a lot of time listening to music when I was small and that developed my love of just hearing people speak. Music brought me to writing. Bands like Placebo, when I was in highschool, really got me around to playing with language. Just a few years later I was studying poets like Keats, Byron and Browning at university in Ottawa, Ontario. It’s been going strong ever since.
AD: Well, I find it hard to say no to people sometimes. Sometimes I sit on the fence about submissions and it’s almost a nail biter for me. I want to make people happy and I want to make people feel extraordinary about literature. But at the end of the day I have a vision of my product and what it can do for readers.
Initially it was hard to get the kind of submissions I was looking for because I really had no connections. But the online literary world is so big now, and in just a few months I was able to make connections with writers and other editors that have helped me a lot. I also took Robert Vaughan on as an editor and his connections to the writing community, as well as his zest for literature, have been incredibly valuable to me as Thunderclap continues to grow.
PK: The words, “MY HEAD, YOUR BEAR TRAP” appear on your website. What connection, if any, do you have to those words?
AD: Those words are from a poem by Irving Layton entitled, “Tell it to Peggy”. Irving Layton has been a huge inspiration to me for seven or eight years now. He’s sort of been my writing crutch. All roads lead to Irving (I think that should be written on my tombstone one day). It’s a very sassy, short poem. I think, as a person, I ‘m like a very sassy, short poem.
Mum’s placed my heart in the
fridge and my history in the
downstairs bedrooms so I can
find my way back in a
I’ll fly down pushing
speeds of 90 an hour
to catch those sleigh bells
at Christmas time--all while
carrying the weight of
America on my back.
I appreciate your style, and I think a lot of your writing plays and works at the same time, which results in some particularly effective and organic language. Do you normally set out to write a certain something or do you let your imagination conjure fresh moments as they come to you? Do you have any writing habits?
AD: First off, thanks! A lot of my poetry comes from my displacement, I think. Moving from Canada to the United States has been a really big challenge for me. It’s been very confusing and at times I have questioned my decisions to re-locate through my writing.
Some poets recently had a debate on the “I” in poetry. For those who say there is no room for it, I completely disagree. Maybe I’m biased. The entire argument, however, that “I” implants way too much ego in a poem and leaves no room for much else is bullshit. There is a fine line between a poem being too personal and it being effective. I feel like I’m flirting with that every day.
I tell myself when I’m going to write. I usually do it on the weekends. Sometimes it comes in waves. When it comes in waves, it has to be an unstoppable thing. Look out! No one can interrupt me, not even my dog. (His bathroom breaks must be fit in around those perfect writing hours). I also push myself to write out of fear. It is a continued fear of mine that poetry will become less and less a staple in peoples’ lives. Poetry has evolved into this thing strictly for academics. I think I write the kind of poetry that every day folks can relate to. I know that is certainly the kind of poetry I like best.
I have just started to write some fiction as of late. I’m not a very good or experienced fiction writer so I’m trying my best hand at flash fiction. Those ideas just come off the top of my head. It’s pretty fun.
AD: I don’t think it’s impacted me too much, if it has, it’s probably in my own head. 90% of the online writing community is definitely a little older, and probably a little wiser. But I think my experience and educational background adds on a few years. The only time I have felt that someone didn’t take me seriously, or take the press seriously, is from a few writers or small press entrepreneurs that are “out of my league” so to speak. But I kind of expect that and it’s like anything in life, you move on. You give yourself new sets of challenges. You work with people who are willing to work with you.
After a certain point, age has nothing to do with how good someone’s work is or how hard someone is willing to push to get what they want. The world needs Shirley Temples. I should also note that with technology opening up so many additional lanes to bowl in, a lot of younger folks who have great grasps on new technologies are getting involved with writing and throwing some serious strikes.
AD: So many great ones out there! Metazen, decomP, PANK, just to name a few. I admire these magazines because they are continually pushing the envelope and their product is fantastic. You have editors and pencil pushers like Frank Hinton who have just gone above and beyond what most people will do to put their honest self out there. And they do it with pizzazz. I admire her as someone as the same age bracket as me. So there is hope for us young ones. There is hope!
PK: Do you have any future plans for Thunderclap Press? It’s clearly been a successful operation, and I can only imagine it will continue to be! Where would you like to see Thunderclap in, say, five years’ time?
AD: Ahhhh…the inevitable timeline question. I would love for Thunderclap to just continue to give artists the spotlight, to showcase ridiculous talent and to make some cool looking books. I have a family, a full time job and my own sanity to consider, so I won’t be able to get too carried away with it. But a community is very important to me; it’s essential to my existence. I think Thunderclap will continue for as long as my need as a human being to connect with other human beings exists.
Thanks to Greg for doing this series. It’s awesome.
Check out Amanda's publishing ingenuity at Thunderclap Press.
Check out Amanda's writing at her Blog.