By Joe Martini
Recently I had the opportunity to interview a phenomenal poet, Noland Blain, who was recently published in the Kudzu Review. I ran into him at a restaurant that was hosting a karaoke night and I decided that then was as good a time as any to get a little bit more information about his poetic journey. What follows is my interview with him:
Martini (Interviewer): Hey Noland. Thank you for doing this interview with me.
Blain: Happy to do it.
Martini: To start off I’d like to know a little background information about your writing. Did you read a lot when you were younger? How did you get started?
Blain: I did read a lot when I was younger, but I really came into writing in high school. I had a wonderful teacher who showed me that I just like writing a lot, so I’ve just been doing that ever since.
Martini: Well what kind of stuff did you like to read?
Blain: I had this weird jump where I skipped the young adult fiction genre entirely and I just went to classics because I thought it would make me seem smart. What really happened is that I didn’t understand it that much, but I still knew that I liked reading despite that.
Martini: I want to hear more about your writing now. I want to know about the creative process. Do you get an idea and then kind of run with it? Or do you write and the idea comes later?
Blain: Usually when I write I usually think of a line or two that I like and I just try to chase that as far as I can. Sometimes it produces something good, sometimes it doesn’t.
Martini: Could you maybe give me an example?
Blain: Okay with the poem that was in the Kudzu Review…
Martini: Yeah sure, “Skin Tight.”
Blain: I liked the idea of following that title “Skin Tight” to what else it could possibly mean. So I started it off with “How tight is that, exactly.” It just kind of turned into a poem about my body. So sometimes I’ll just have an idea where I’m like would this be interesting or not and I try to chase it.
Martini: On “Skin Tight” I was interested in that poem. Did you revise it a lot?
Blain: A lot.
Martini: There were a lot of drafts for that one?
Blain: I think that one was four or five drafts before I submitted it.
Martini: I’m interested in some of your influences. What led you to your current style?
Blain: I’ve had a lot of different influences, but that particular poem I think was influenced most by my spoken word background. I did a lot of slam poetry in high school and that lends itself really well to something confrontational.
Martini: Why did you decide to send your poem “Skin Tight” out to Kudzu and what is the goal with your poetry?
Blain: Well I was actually looking for publications to submit it to because I was really proud of the poem and my friend, Joe Martini, actually recommended I submit it to the Kudzu Review so I did and luckily it was selected.
Martini: But overall why are you sending out your poetry in the first place?
Blain: I just really want my poems to live out in the literary world. I don’t want them to be preserved just in my own documentation. I want other people to see them.
Martini: Well that’s great and they have. Do you have any advice for people submitting to Kudzu’s newest volume?
Blain: I think that a lot of different types of poems can be published and I don’t think that new poets should be intimidated by the current literary trends. I think that anyone can submit and anyone who feels confidently about their poetry should submit.
Martini: That’s great advice I think. Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?
Blain: No, I’m just very pleased with the reception that my poetry has gotten from the Kudzu Review and I’m very pleased to be able to work on the Kudzu Review for this semester.
Blain has been published in Élan, Oroboro, East by Northeast, and the Kudzu Review. He currently works in the poetry section for the Kudzu Review.
Joe Martini is pursuing an English major and a philosophy minor. He currently works on the poetry section and loves playing chess and going fishing.