A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Kushal Poddar

Why do you write?

I began writing as a challenge to myself but the real urge was stirred while reading books to my late uncle then becoming blind rapidly. While reading to him I often was disturbed with the original version of the text the famous writers rendered. I would create an instant edited version which I would offer to my uncle. God bless his soul. If he ever detected my deception he never told me so.

I write because without it I am hungry and blind. Without writing I feel smothered and often do wild things my friends won’t like me to do.

What books do you read?

I am proud of my book collection. My friends from all over the world helped me building it. My deepest regards to them.

I read poetry, novels, nonfiction, Wikipedia, Facebook scribbles. I read Inferno. I read John Grisham. I read my friends. I read those who ceased to be so.

What inspires you?

Nature. Dreams. Words and phrases uttered by completely strangers. Other poets writing to me. Actually at present I am co-writing three such books where another poet or a bunch of poets are exchanging mails with me.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I never really thought about it until someone pointed out I am failure in everything else.

How do you deal with rejection?

By submitting to the same editor again. He or she better accept my new bunch otherwise another one is heading towards him or her.

Who are some writers you admire?

Charles Simic, Ted Kooser, Hecht, Franz Wright, Carol Ann Duffy, Jim Harrison, W.S. Merwin, Donald Hall, Michael Ondaatje, Tomas Transtromer, Rilke, Frost, Hesse, Neruda, O’Hara, Roth, Updike, Hemingway, Marquez and all other fashionable name I probably should name but I cannot because I didn’t read them yet.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

No. I paint. I photograph. I writhe to make love.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

If you want to give up then do it now because later you shall never do it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write as if your death waits for you to stop somewhere.

What is your writing process?

I write on whatever is handy to me when my mind is inseminated by some random scene, sound or phrases uttered.

Kushal Poddar

Photograph by Sufia Khatoon. Kushal Poddar, widely published in several countries, prestigious anthologies included Men In The Company of Women, Penn International MK etc, Van Gogh’s Ear, been featured amongst the poets for the month December by Tupelo Press, Vine Leaves Literary Journal’s Best of 2014 and in various radio programs in Canada and USA presently lives at Kolkata and writing poetry, fictions and scripts for short films when not engaged in his day job as a lawyer in the High Court At Calcutta and an English Language Trainer in various universities. He is editor of the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’ He authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), and “Understanding The Neighborhood” (BRP, Australia). His forthcoming venture is “Scratches Within”


Value Menu by PW Covington

Sometimes, I get too big for the world
My problems
Grow so large
That I must go out
Down the street

To the fast food shop

I will choose an item or two
Of some value menu, fried food
Just before noon
When the line is full
With hurried diners
On lunch breaks
From jobs they hate

“2 dollars and 98 cents, please”
The counter clerk will say
And I will riffle in my pocket
To produce quarters, dimes, and nickels,
Down to the last three pennies
Exact change is the only way this will work
It takes a while
So,  I begin sharing
All about the troubles of my day
The fears I can exorcize no other way
Padding the tale with back-story
I mention peoples’ names that no one here knows
The “I do not give a fuck” look on the worker’s face
Is a god-send, as I lay coins on the counter
Line-standers behind me exhaling and shuffling feet
Impatiently, unwillingly, receiving my confession
Then, instantly, tossing it into the rubbage bins behind them

Perspective attained for less than three dollars
Less than 400 calories, if I order right
Less than two minutes…too long, really, for my fears and minor miseries
The fast food workers let me know
The line behind me, lets me know

And as I lay the last few coins on the counter
I smile at the refreshment
That comes from no longer
All that
Loose change

I walk away with a paper sack, full of reconciliation
My sacrament complete

pw covington

PW Covington is a disabled veteran and convicted felon. His work has been published by both universities and underground ‘zines. He travels widely, but lives in rural Texas with his bulldog, Chesty.

Superpowers by Fran Lock

On the Tube we discussed our superpowers: you
have no inside voice and cheekbones to die for. I
have Catholic guilt and running on fumes. There’s
a street we are always approaching through rain
where girls with the bright, flat look of tattoos go
by. The scurvy brickwork weeps, and if you walk
through the Jewellery Quarter you might meet
a man: miraculously hunched, with a loupe in
his eye. He is bent double; he is going about
the truculent astronomy of diamonds. You can
squint into brilliance, see? A custom piece will
resonate with stars.

And this is when I said I can’t show you my
London, but between the caffeinated thermals,
tie pins and boisterous funkadelic tat, we might
be discovering yours. Curdled breeze that smells
of traffic, the grumbling pageantry of twat mobiles,
wanker chariots, four by fours. Charity shops
and swanking in hats, fortified by our victimless
furs. We can be ourselves, and we can breathe.

Which is something. Point out again: St Pancras,
standing, trident in hand, like a homoerotic
Aquaman; the turret, its mad Victorian lowbrow,
fibreglass folly for a defunct fish tank. Laugh.
It was another world then. Lamentable vendors
of tepid meat, the man who tried to buy me for
a fiver in the pukey light outside Costcutter. I’m
glad that it’s gone the way of all flesh. London,
slowly sinking into itself, leaving only a smile.
Last sliver of ice that tastes of the gin it swam in.


Fran Lock is a sometime itinerant dog whisperer and author of two poetry collections, ‘Flatrock’ (Little Episodes, 2011) and ‘The Mystic and the Pig Thief’ (Salt, 2014). Her work has appeared in various places, most recently POETRY, and The Poetry Review. She is the winner of the 2014 Ambit Poetry Competition, and the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize 2015. Her poem ‘Last Exit to Luton’ came third in the 2014 National Poetry Competition.

Perfect Weather by Benjamin Blake

The crows’ cry brings in the new day
As I slip into torn jeans
I woke up feeling the most alive in weeks
Absent from my daily head-ache delivered by too many drinks
Sitting down on worn front steps
Just below the balcony
Balding branches loose their grasp on leaves
Then they spiral to the ground
And inside, I can’t help but smile
When I realize
I enjoy the sunflowers more when it’s overcast

Benjamin Blake

Benjamin Blake wines, dines, reads, walks, and writes from the North Island wilds of New Zealand. He’s also the author of A Prayer for Late October, Reciting Shakespeare with the Dead, and Southpaw Nights.

My Brain Without Drugs by Michael Marrotti

on a dead end road
Exceeding the speed limit
with no detour in sight
Left with no options
Forced to accept my fate
I spit in my hand
as I caress
my disappointed penis
in the hopes of saying
hello to solace

Much to my despair
I couldn’t even acquire
a state of precum

Approaching the end
with a limp dick
I gotta say for the most part
I enjoyed the ride
Nothing says achievement
like time well wasted

Wasted I was

Living off fried rice
candy bars and
the occasional orgasm
was good enough for me
when I had my milligrams

The sign I just passed
said there’s only seven
miles left to go

Nostalgia kicks in as I
recall my favorite destination

Destination flaccid avenue

Money exchanges
Pockets full of goodies
Another day I avoided
demon dope sick

Scratching myself to sleep
Scratching myself awake
Lucid dreams
Panic in Dormont

It was only a matter of time
That time came too soon

Only four miles left
and my nose begins to run
The price a man gotta pay
for happiness is tragic

Only two miles left
My body is introduced
to agony
She’s a merciless cunt
Why did I do this
to myself

Only one mile left
I’ve lost the will to persist

This is my brain without drugs

Michael Marrotti

Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he’s not writing, he’s volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man’s work, please check out his blog: http://www.thoughtsofapoeticmind.blogspot.com/ for his latest poetry and short stories.

The Other Darkness by Seth Jani

Radium moon,
The cradle of some other darkness
Over everything,
And the night’s wind
Like wild insects
Filling up the mouth.
If what I feel
Isn’t the vortex of illusions
Then I am finally coming
To what is real.
I am breaking down the barricades
Like a migrant fire,
An erupting grace.
I am holding the volcanic heart
Of all our summers
In the one wild meadow
Of an open palm.
Deer-leap, fog-addled mazes,
The forest in the city’s dreaming.
All these pastiches of a fractured life
Floating down like burning pages.

Seth Jani-Author Pic

Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published widely in such places as The Foundling Review, The Devilfish Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review and Gravel. More about him and his work can be found at http://www.sethjani.com.

Back At Annwn by Paul Tristram

I awake as from a fretful dream
to look around at long lost
familiar faces.
Consciousness blossoms,
memory steps outside of its box
where I start, at last,
to see the sense of nearly everything.
I don’t think I’ve ever
smiled like this before?
But of course, I cannot be sure,
for this is not the only life
that I have come from living.
I’ll acclimatize the morrow through
and soar within depths of remembering.
I’ll miss the rain but not the pain,
it’s good to be back home at Annwn.

Scribblings Of A Madman

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Go Beyond My Withered Craft by Grant Tarbard

Go beyond my withered craft and be a
sapling in the forest. Push the excess
of my maddened art and be naked, be
unkempt, ratty, and howling with heartbeats.
Go beyond my withered craft and be the
boy who juggles clouds, keeping the sun as
a polished bulb held within a chest of
trinkets, popped seeds that boil down to a sigh.
Go beyond my withered craft and be the
boy with a question mark in his hair, hear
the rub of tear drop rooms ingesting rooms,
softly, in the wrinkled evenings. Go
beyond my wither, feel the tickle of
a lover’s scent soaking the pages musk.

Grant Tarbard

Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth, published by Lapwing Publications, is available now.

Occupy Prague/Rapsodia by Domenic Scopa

Occupy Prague

June, 2013, during a European study abroad touring Nazi work camps, I joined fellow Suffolk University students to participate in the Occupy Movement in Prague-We slept in the camp with other protesters, until we were eventually driven out by police a few days later.

They were what the native demonstrators named budovy bastardu
“skyscrapers of the bastards”-
They were the shimmer and the distance.

We were the skeletal shadows of trees,
their cloak of darkness stretching over our tents
pitched haphazardly throughout the public park.

We circled the campfire at night,
but not to share scary stories-
We thought we knew what scary meant.
And we were never the stained-glass window panes
suffusing sacred spectrums inside Wenceslas Cathedral,
never the glint of light reflected off the golden chalice
lifted to the cross for transubstantiation…
We were the hollow clarity one notices in a wishing well
after a silver coin sinks below its surface,
the moment empty and clear as a beautiful god
someone has stripped nude of any power.


If police sirens and bullhorns possessed power,
we would have had, perhaps, a minute more
of some god’s blessing to cease and scatter,
but that minute, blurring, became
only the rippling of reflections in wishing wells,
became only our lungs, worn-out,
suspense and bravery blending with every breath…
I could taste it for days, like the taste of budget wine
a priest swore was the blood of Jesus-
Jesus tasted like rust.
It freed my mind from my body, so badly beaten
with batons the bruises were the purple of a Lenten sash
left out on a sidewalk in the summer
to be trampled by pedestrians.
Left out why? For whom? For businessmen and beggars?
For skeptics and believers?
Who gives a shit on less than minimum wage?
We left our bodies in that park,
within sight of the skyscrapers, the slum, the cathedral-
Where diplomats could be seen walking
with security details toward the presidential palace,
where what was left of us
collapsed our tents, cleaned up our trash,
cried, embraced each other through it all
in an aquarium of abuse, submerging deeper
with this desperate company of justice and peace,
two clownfish floundering like buffoons.


That rust we tasted on our breath was us,
that rust wasting away the benches we spray-painted-
And whether those benches rot into dust,
or whether city workers come and rip them down
to build new ones, is a matter of perspective,
of how you see things there-
That crop circle of residual campfire,
the coffee can heaping with stubbed-out smokes,
blood-speckled grass, the booted warblers
      frightened into flight,
those children playing catch,
that beggar, that businessman, me, you.


a restaurant one block away from Auschwitz I

After savoring the first mouthful of smoked Frankfurters-
      slathered with mustard and relish-
the man-at-the-bar’s face shatters with ecstasy,
so eternal and frenzied it might be that of a homeless boy
just handed a bowl of flavorless stew at that shelter
     I crossed the street to evade…
A bowl of flavorless stew for a homeless boy, his family,
for the expanse of souls that leered at me, one by one,
from hundreds of framed photographs
that lined the hallways of the buildings in the camp,
their imagined screams packing the atmosphere
to the hardness of a concrete slab-In the gas chamber,
the audience should have stopped chatting and snapping pictures,
and be snared, slowly, like ancient creatures staring wide-eyed
at the undirected randomness within the devastation
      of a comet’s collision…
And now, here, I find myself towering with solitude,
repeating to this goddamned man’s face:
where is it, again, where is it that you’re from?

Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently an adjunct professor for the Changing Lives Through Literature program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is also a copyeditor for The Tishman Review and a manuscript reader for Hunger Mountain.