An Interview With Kelli Gunn, the Poetess of ‘Pot of Uncertainty At the End of the Unsettled’

I met Kelli Gunn in the Poetry Review and Discuss group on LinkedIn, weeks before she published her first poetry collection ‘Pot of Uncertainty At the End of the Unsettled’. I immediately got myself a copy on my Kindle and finished reading the poems in a single sitting. Her writing, I thought, was like a mirror. Naturally, it invited for an interview with the poetess of this charming little collection – Kelli Gunn. So here it is, a small interview conducted over e-mail, which I hope you will enjoy.

Let’s simply start with, who is Kelli Gunn?

I’m a 6th generation East Coast Canadian and proud part of the Scottish diaspora. I’m a poet and writer, also a mother of two teenagers. I went to university late, and spent the past six years getting two degrees in English Lit, and now I work at a call center to pay the bills while writing in my spare time. I wish I could make that all sound more exciting, but that’s me in a nutshell.

In the preface of the book, you mention something about heartbreaks, and that was when you started writing. So, from that day, what did you find so special in poetry that it stayed with you?

I started writing poetry when I was quite young, actually, and had my first poem published at 14. But I started writing love poems after my first heartbreak because I have always found a certain comfort in reading and writing poetry. I kept a couple of them through the years and added to the collection as the number of heartbreaks continued to rise J Perhaps it’s like someone who needs to do physical work to take their mind of their problems, or someone people will clean their house…for me, when I’m upset, I get release from channeling all my feelings into poetry. Even going back to revise it is therapeutic for me. I like to create and my emotions give me great material to use.

Tell us about one poem that you enjoy reading again and again, and also, a few of your favourite poets.

Ah, there are so many! I read “The Second Coming” by Yeats over and over and he is one of my favorite poets, as well. I also never tire of reading John Donne or Edgar Allan Poe (I keep a copy of “A Dream Within  A Dream” on my desk at work).

Your writing is quite contemporary in nature. You do not stick to the traditional format of poetry, but seem to be writing down what comes to your mind in a great rhythm. You appear to have a personality in writing. And as it is said, having a personality in writing is extremely important.

So, did you have any trouble finding this style? Did you have any another style of writing that contradicted with this and a conflict was born?

I think my style, as it is now, has developed painfully over time. I used to rhyme everything and start every line with a capital letter, until it was called to my attention that this is not only unnecessary, but annoying. I try not to stick to any certain form or style, but let the nature of the poem, as it develops, dictate how it will sound and appear, instead of trying to hold to a standard of how I used to think poetry should be. I like to experiment with different styles, too. In fact, I often write haikus that I never show anyone!

What’s next for Kelli Gunn? Where can we read more of your works?

I have ambitious plans for the new year. I’ve been in grad school for the past year, and just successfully defended my thesis last week, which means I finally have freedom to concentrate on my creative, instead of academic, writing. I occasionally publish short fictions on my blog page: https://bookend2016.wordpress.com/ as well as some poetry, and any announcements about future publications will be posted there.

I also have just started manage a poetry workshopping group on LinkedIn called “Critique” (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4280653) where, along with many other talented poets, post the rough drafts of poems for feedback before posted them as final products.

In this poetry collection of yours, how much is fiction and how much is real?

There is more fact than I care to admit, if I’m being honest. Some of the poems are not literally about the situation they may describe, but there is always some truth. “Not You, Baby” for example, was inspired after I ended a relationship with someone who told me that our love is like a baby who was born before his time because I didn’t try long enough, so it’s actually about the death of a relationship, and the pain and betrayal I felt.

Anything else that you would like to add?

Thanks so much for reading my work and for your interest J No one has ever asked me these questions before, so it’s been great to have a chance to talk about something that means so much to me.


I’d like to thank Kelli for taking the time to answer these questions and bringing forward such beautiful, raw poems in her collection. You can get your very own copy of ‘Pot of Uncertainty At the End of the Unsettled’ at Amazon.

Happy reading! 🙂

 

 

Catch-22 Review: Bathing In The Absurdity Of War

Catch-22 Review: Bathing In The Absurdity Of War

Harper Lee, the celebrated author of To Kill A Mockingbird, once said about Catch-22:

Catch-22 is the only war novel I’ve ever read that makes any sense.”

I read Catch-22, written by the American novelist Joseph Heller after a friend recommended it to me – the same person who recommended me Slaughterhouse-Five which I reviewed in an earlier piece on this blog.

Catch-22 sees Yossarian, a captain in US Air Force, as the protagonist with his desire of an ordinary man – Yosarrian – to escape out of complexities, brutality, insanity, and absurdity of the second world war while keeping his sanity in place. The only thing which stops him from doing so is one unbending rule from which the novel derives its title from – Catch-22.

Well, the book is not an easy read. It has sufficient volume, diverse characters with parallel storylines, a parade of scenes, and some big, fancy, and complex words. All of this makes sense after looking at the absurd subject the book focuses on – war.

 

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Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22.

 

The book is composed of a parade of scenes, each chapter named after a different character, and fine anecdotes – all of which are humorously assembled by Joseph Heller. The book goes to and fro between the scenes and in the first read, it takes quite a length of the book to become familiar with the characters and plot of the book. It is one of those books that you secretly place back on your bookshelf after going through its complexity of characters in the beginning pages. But the book, while resting on the bookshelf, silently laughs at you for keeping it down.

The book sheds light on the absurdity of war and all that it includes: capitalism, narcissism, pride, nationalism, and death.

Writing the first novel is like trying to hold a fish straight out of the water. Joseph Heller, however, has done the task exceptionally well. It is quite brilliant how he balances all the characters in the novel and the plots around them. He makes you laugh at times, makes you sad, angry, sympathising, and gives you think to think about after you have flipped the pages of the  book, ending the long journey with it in which you were very well present with its characters.

If you have ever heard of war, and it has made you confused or angry, Catch-22 is a journey to dive in, for sure.

 

 

 

Slaughterhouse-Five Review : Psychedelic And Gut Wrenching

Slaughterhouse-Five Review : Psychedelic And Gut Wrenching

I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

The book Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine who had also recommended Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. After concluding Catch-22 which laughed at me in its entire reading for letting it rest in my bookshelf in one corner for three seasons of a year, I was overwhelmed enough to shoot a thank you message to my dear friend Vijay, in the reply of which came the recommendation of Slaughterhouse-Five.

Also check out another war satire that kicks ass blue, green and red. Slaughterhouse – Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

In the heart of Slaughterhouse-Five lies Billy Pilgrim, a World War 2 veteran who has a disconnected life as an optometrist. So one fine night of his daughter’s wedding, he gets abducted by a race of aliens from the planet Trafmadore, who teach him how to get “unstuck in time”, which means, he can travel from one point of his life to another point in almost no time and anytime. Another interesting part about Billy is that he was present as an American prisoner in Dresden when it was bombed, and apparently, the only one to survive it. When Dresden was being bombed, absurdly, the prisoners had to hide in a slaughterhouse number five, from which the title of the book is derived.

Ah, as one may imagine, bullets are flying everywhere in a World War book, but its is not like that. Most of the time, Billy is tripping through the events of his life. Every now and then he goes back to the moment when he was thrown into a pool by his father to learn how to swim, the time when he peeked down the grand canyon on a family trip and realised how fearful it was, the night when he was abducted by the aliens who could see through the timeline of life as if they as seeing a valley standing on top of a high hill, and numerous other incidents.

It is hard to get a sense of the present time in this book, as the events switch quickly and fluidly between the sequence of time. And, all of this is weaved interestingly through the thread of Vonnegut’s humour, which I encountered for the first time in his book Cat’s Cradle. It is about the day the first atom bomb was dropped which killed so may people; but not as many as in the bombing of Dresden.

The book reveals many new outcomes on the concept of time as being subjective to our understanding. For writers, it shows an entirely new form of writing which perhaps has never been read, new, surprising, belief-shattering, and satire in the storyline which Kurt Vonnegut so masterly manages to show.

At many points, it is sad, happy at several, and full of surprising elements which sometimes seems to paint it through the colours of science fiction. The book begins like an epilogue which moves to the form of a narrative. It delivers punch lines which make you smile and thinking.

Slaughterhouse-Five leaves little behind to complain and much to cherish and remember. Indeed, the 60s was the of Yellow Submarine and this similarly psychedelic work by Kurt Vonnegut.