May 15th, 2020
We’ve just escaped the oncoming morning heat of Twentynine Palms, California and are now safely inside the Mojave Moon Cafe drinking cold brew coffee. Sitting in front of the large window, we get comfortable in the worn armchairs, making sure our various bags aren’t wrapped around our feet or impede anyone’s ability to walk by us. Ska skips out of the speakers, combining rather pleasantly with the light chatter of the other customers. You begin to ask your first question; I rapidly try to chew the large ice cube I’ve made the mistake of imbibing at this inopportune moment.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
Laura DiNovis Berry: I was a big reader when I was little, but I really started constructing my own story lines and characters when I created a comic for myself called Bubbles and Joe. It was poetry though that really won my attention.
LM: How long have you been writing for?
LB: Years at this point. I major in English Composition so even if I was writing poetry I was at least writing something.
LM: What genre do you read?
LB: For the blog I read strictly poetry and I typically find my way swaying along the library’s nonfiction shelves, but right now I am reading Station 11 for the Big Read Morongo Basin events.
LM: What are you currently working on?
LB: I run Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews, a blog which provides free book book reviews for modern poets and donates 10% of the site earnings & donations to a non profit every year!
LM: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
LB: I am inspired by all the poets who submit their work. Through this project I have come into contact with such a wild variety of poetry. It is immensely helpful to me as a writer to absorb neat writing tricks I find along the way.
LM: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
LB: I enjoy acting, playing rugby and knitting – I’m playing Audrey in the Twentynine Palms local playhouse, Theater 29’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. I haven’t been in a stage play for some time so this experience has been incredibly fun.
LM: What are you currently reading?
LB: Cross Country by Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans. It’s next up for review!
LM: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
LB: That poetry is dead. Have you seen Poetry Twitter? Those people are very much alive.
LM: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
LB: I usually wake up, take care of the dogs, practice a bit on Duolingo and then sit down with a coffee and my laptop and get at it!
LM: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
LB: Not really – I don’t need utter silence when I’m working on a first draft but I need to read my work aloud during the editing process so then I do typically shut myself away so I don’t drive my housemates nuts
LM: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
LB: The books themselves. I let the books sit for me for about a day after reading them, churning them over in my head before writing my review. Poetry has to settle like a tea sometimes.
LM: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
LB: I self published my first chapbook Bright Pink Ink. I wish I hadn’t been so hasty with it but I was on a bit of a time table. I got married a month later and I just wanted to get the damn thing out there. My experience publishing with Indies United Publishing House has been fantastic! My second chapbook, Egg Shaped Ball, was released through them and the whole experience has been wonderful!
LM: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
LB: I wish I had started Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews earlier really – that’s about it at this point when it comes to regrets thankfully.
LM: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
LB: Letting people know that Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews exists actually. I’ve found that, while social media has been instrumental in getting this blog off the ground, that actually going to readings and introducing yourself is far more impactful. Plus, I’ve had some pretty cute book marks made so I get to give people gifts when they read which is fun
LM: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
LB: Don’t be afraid of critiques! Believe in yourself but know that someone else may have a unique way of looking at things that can really improve your work!
When she is not playing rugby or desperately knitting, Laura can be found writing poetry book reviews for other modern poets. If she’s procrastinating, she’s most likely taking her dogs for a walk.
Bright Pink Ink: New & Selected Poems – A collection of poetry which celebrates the pitfalls and joys of simply being alive through odes to rugby, ruminations on being a military spouse and the process of falling in love.
Buy it here!
Egg Shaped Ball – These poems race down the pitch and each syllable pumps ferociously happy blood. Dedicated to rugby and the women who play it, this chapbook honors the intense lows and electric highs a player can feel when she laces up her cleats.
Buy it here!