My name is Bree, altho i have been published with wrong-names quite often, thru the yrs. Because i decided from the get to use only my first name for poetry and music purposes, on several occasions a publisher or author will give me a last name. For example, i had a yahoomail account, a decade or so back---it was email@example.com and a publisher printed a poem of mine, attributing it to Bree Songs. i have been named Bree Stings, Bree Ingst, Bree Vangunten, the list goes on. My favorite---on Facebook you are required to have a first and last name. So, i stuck my middle name as a sub for my last name on Facebook: there, i was Bree Zlee. A guy writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer interviewed me about a late Cleveland poet, Daniel Thompson. In it, the author quotes me, and later in the article, refers to me simply as, ‘Zlee.’ He did not, and none of the people who have given me a last name ever did ask me what my last name even was. My family cracks up.
Age? i am early into my fourth decade here in this lovely earthenware bowl.
Location? i live in Cleveland Heights, ten minutes from the big city. Ohio U.S.A.
How long have you been writing? When i was 4 or 5 i wrote little satirical comic strips. When i was 9 i wrote stuff that would disturb anybody with a heart. By 12 i wrote poetry, and by 14 i understood that it was poetry. i have never written a short story, however a few months ago a wrote a novel---it took me seven weeks, and i really like it. it will be the first piece of writing i actually peddle in the market. Its humor, love triangle, clevelandish. Stay tuned for that.
Do you have a specific writing style? i have two syles. 1: i write like i talk, and otherwise i 2: write like i think.
Do you write as a career? i write for myself, and for my community. my community consists of poets, publishers and patrons of the small press aka independent press aka underground. Now, when i sat down and wrote a novel cover to cover in maybe 82 combined man-hours, i realized i could probably make a career out of writing novels. For novels i would want money. The crowd i want to read my novels is not limited to my community. i am talking mass-market here. i think i have found myself a niche. For this, i would not think twice about making money, whereas, the books i publish through Green Panda Press---i dont want to make money. i never have. What is nice is when i sometimes get money to buy my next ink cartridge. i have on several occasions opened my mailbox to a hundred dollar bill, around which is a folded piece of paper reading something to the tune of, “Keep doing what you are doing.” That kind of thing affords me to keep doing what i do. ive given away more books than i could sell in a lifetime, and thats how i want/need it to be, for poetry/art books.
Do you write full-time? i am what they might call prolific—if that can be taken to mean simply that i produce an abundance of writing. Some of it is grist for the mill, the rest i pass along to who’s listening.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? Not succumbing to drugs, addiction, insanity, the morgue.
What is your ultimate goal as a writer? To get my words, and the words of others into hands (and/or ears).
What is your greatest challenge as a writer? Knowing when to stop writing for the day. Particularly with memoir. But oh, man, i just thought of a bigger obstacle:::: Remembering where i saved which poem. The fact that i will make a hundred different file folders on my computer and name them really obscurely, so that i have to go open each file, and dozens of documents to find the one i am looking for, i guess that’s the most ridiculous obstacle.
What projects of yours have been recently published? Memoirs like “A Leg to Stand On,” and “The Rainbow Sweater & My Mother.” They are both vignette-style recordings of my traipse through the anything-but-norm. In all of my memoirs you will find certain threads: my (awesome) marriage, my illness (boring!), but mainly the pursuit of truth and how it is to live earnest. Some of my poems go into little mags like heck, a drug im on makes it difficult to remember names, but i remember the more popular ones, the now-defunct Arthur mag, now-defunct Split Wh*skey, um defunct defunct, Ronin Press from the UK did a collection of mine called, “Let Cupid Know,” the online BigBridge, The City Poetry online, Ecstatic Peace.
What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? A new memoir. I sure dont wait long. The last one arrived from printer like three weeks ago. This one features mental illness, but the narrative also weaves my usual themes: pain management, truth, honesty (not the same thing), Buddhism, daughterhood, LSD.
Where can we find your work? i think you better google. (smiles.)
How often do you write? See above question----“Do you write full-time?”
How do you react to rejections? Usually i dont react. Some of my best have been rejected, and some of my worst have unfortunately been printed. There was a great line in this movie i just saw called HOLY MOTORS. It said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if there is no beholder?”
How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? Honestly, if its a poem or a handful of poems i often forget. If its a collection though, i get real happy and then go and read the collection again and again. Until i drink a beer and get back to my senses.
What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer? Really try and just write in your own voice. If you dont know what that means, or how to do it, either you are not a writer, or you are a beginner. To the beginner, id say, to find your voice write as if you have an audience of like three people you really like, and would love to just sit and BE with. If you are with people of that ilk, you will naturally be yourself. And that is the same thing as your voice. But honestly not everyone who writes is a writer. It is something you are born with, like a cleft palette.
What is your favorite book? In Quest of Candlelighters by Kenneth Patchen, The Gift by Hafiz, d.a. levys whole shebang.
Who is your favorite author? If you seriously mean just one, i will pick Langston Hughes, reluctantly, so reluctantly in fact i will change it to Dostoevsky.
If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why? The post man from Buk’s post office because he and i cld die laughing together and that would beat living crying.
What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer? Not taking the time to go get a pen and write it down.
What is your favorite word? Sugar.
What makes you laugh? Humanity
What makes you cry? Chronic pain that is more like constant than chronic.
What is your preferred drink while you write? Water water water and occasionally beer.
Beach or Mountains? Mountains, big-time.
Cats or Dogs? Cats but im in the market for a mini dachshund to join my cat-pack. (i have 4 felines.)
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? John Lennon sitting in with the Stones.
Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra? Hendrix.
Shakespeare or Bukowski? Seriously? B-to-the uk.
Anything you’d like to share about your country, its people, or native animals? Regarding USA, i wish id have been here for the consciousness and conscientious objecting that went on during the late 50s-early 70s. The Occupy movement gained momentum, but i fear there are too many cooks and it spoils the broth. What with twitter and twatter our media has got so enormous and with so many opportunities to connect with each other we are actually less connected now. 1,000,000 gangs/groups/subsects cant really elicit a coup de ‘etat, i don’t believe.