Michael Krisel’s piece “Forgiving the Grass” appears in Midwestern Gothic‘s Summer 2018 issue, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I’m 56 and have lived in central Wisconsin my whole life, except for 10 years in the Navy after high school. I grew up in a rural area, and have lived in a couple of small towns. The last 5 years I’ve resided in Wausau, a town of 40,000, where I attended high school.
Rural areas more easily reflect the symbols of soul. Sparse / pared-down places encourage stoicism, Zen, nature religions / Wicca / mysticism. It’s easier to project your own internal drama / symbolism onto such an environment (especially as a teen writer), as opposed to an urban setting.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
The small towns, although their character is being homogenized by the sameness of national chain stores, and the generally friendlier, less stressed, less greedy, less self-absorbed nature of the people, compared to both coasts (I’ve never really been in the South). Of course, the social media / texting while walking zombies are eroding that.
There’s also something to be said for Wisconsin’s autumn colors.
How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head—play a role in your writing?
Sometimes landscape not only informs / colors the mood of a piece, but is actually the star of the poem. Also, like a regional accent, place speaks through us. All writing is regional writing, if only because all writing must take place in a place, and that place will flavor the writing.
Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
Writer’s block means you have nothing to say. Don’t sit there like desire’s bitch, squirming at some keyboard, resorting to some bullshit writing prompt to jump start one more poem or essay. Just get up and walk away. There’s more to life than writing. When desire is thwarted, let go of desire.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
I got better at sensing that after working in forms for a year or two. Previously I’d only written free verse for 20 some years and it was fuzzy sometimes when a poem was done. Forms encouraged revision, and that gave me a greater sense of “done-ness,” especially as revision became more pleasurable, as I continued to improve at it. But to be able to finish a poem, it’s SO important to include ALL the pieces you’ll need, when you write your first draft.
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
Leonard Onionhouse is my latest favorite. His first novel is in a genre called “theo-noir.” It’s tough guy fiction with a spiritual component. Plus a mix of fantasy & horror.
What’s next for you?
Towards the end of 2018 my first full-length collection is due out from Pebblebrook Press. “Zen Amen” will consist of 70+ single and double occult-themed abecedarians.
Where can we find more information about you?
Here’s a link to my Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Members Page:
and here’s a link to an electronic chapbook of my short poems:
Every Name in the Book, at http://www.righthandpointing.net/michael-kriesel-every-name