Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello! My name is Carla M. Cherry, and I’m a poet. I’ve had about forty poems published in various publications and published four books of poetry through Wasteland Press: Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings, Thirty Dollars and a Bowl of Soup, Honeysuckle Me, and These Pearls Are Real. I am in my forties.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am a proud native New Yorker.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I come from a close-knit family. I was surrounded by loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents, and my younger sister. Because I wanted to provide students with the same kind of well-rounded education I received in New York City public elementary and secondary schools, I became an English teacher. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Spelman College, my Master of Arts in Social Studies Education from New York University, and my Master of Science in Adolescent Literacy Studies from Lehman College of the City University of New York. I have an adult son and a niece who is a junior in college.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just had five poems published in Black Noise Books’ Winter 2018 issue of CultureCult Magazine. It is available on Amazon.com here.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always loved to readand wanted to mimic the writing style of my favorite authors. I began to write poetry when I was in second grade, after falling in love with Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Ego Tripping”.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I got my first publication credit–my poem “Niece”, published by Anderbo in 2007. You may find it here or in my first book Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I needed a way to expel the angst I felt after my father died from cancer in 2005. I spent three years culling my collection of poems for gems I wanted to revise, taking poetry workshops to write and revise new material, and then organizing the collection.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title of my first book is Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings. It was a phrase my Aunt Bea would say to me during my visits to her North Carolina home when I was a little girl and I would ask her what we were going to eat.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Poetry is my favorite writing genre. My writing style is narrative; I tend to tell stories in my poems, and we writers are supposed to show, not tell! Creating imagery is challenging for me–I struggle to find unique ways of describing thingsand avoiding cliches is paramount! When I wrote my poem “Cold-Blooded: Why I Hung Up Last Night and Blocked Your Number”, which was published by Eunoia Review, I eliminated a lot narrative details and focused on imagery to relay my story. You can read the poem here and in my second book, Thirty Dollars and a Bowl of Soup!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of my poems are fictional. I sometimes write what I’d like to see in my own life or in the world, but I often write poems based on current events or real experiences. For example, in my poem, “Diaspora”, which was published by Random Sample Review, is about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and the attacks of Boko Haram.
“Water warriors march with brown water in bottles. No politicians put in jail.
They get to allocate $80 million in federal aid, and it ain’t enough to replace all the pipes.
Will the walleye forever swim up the Flint River to spawn?
How many men in Flint will become impotent?
Chelation therapy flushes lead through urine. Does not undo damage to axons, synapses, IQ.
Will the people of Flint get enough Vitamin C/calcium/iron/garlic/cilantro/oregano?
Will Snyder give them 64 ounces of pure water per day to drink?
The Game/Cher/Diddy/Donny Wahlberg can buy only so much bottled water.
No end–20,000 killed and 2.5 million Nigerians displaced.
86 murdered in Dalori. Bullets and firebombs.
Fire peels the epidermis, the dermis shrinks/splits leaking body fat.
Muscles dry out, contract, and the limbs sometimes move into
poses of agony: arched necks/backs.
This poem in its entirety here and can be found in my second book, Thirty Dollars and a Bowl of Soup.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do. I would love to physically travel more but personal obligations have prevented that, so I rely on my imagination and research! I often read news articles that inspire poems. I’ve also been inspired by works of art; they inspire me to imagine what life was like in various historical periods. For example, I was struck by Edward Hopper’s painting, “Table for Ladies” and wrote a poem called “New Freedom”:
“Do they ever think about the burn in my back
from ferrying fruit and meals from kitchen to table
or how my waist itches
from tying this apron’s bow as tight as my smile?”
The entire poem can be found here.
Fiona: Who designed your book covers?
Timothy Veeley, the owner of Wasteland Press, designed all my book covers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your poetry that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to bring their own experiences when they read my poetry. Hopefully they’ll find personal connections and derive their own meaning. Overall, my poems express the importance of love and justice. For example, my poem “Thank you, Amber Rose” is my challenge for people to think about rape culture and victim blaming:
“With a wave of the switchblade–
Before you ask why I was there unescorted, at 17,
a snatch of privacy is hard to come by
for a girl with watchful parents
and a house of open doors…”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite writer of all time is Toni Morrison. She unapologetically and fearlessly explores the African-American experience, and she makes me think. Reading The Bluest Eye challenged me to explore the impact of colorism on the psyche of people across the African diaspora. Beloved introduced me to the story of Margaret Garner.
Although she can’t be considered new anymore, I am enamored by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve read almost all of her books. Her writing is so engaging and empowering for women.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My longest and dearest friend, Dr. Tanya Manning-Yarde, has been most supportive of my getting published. She is a poet also, and we read and critique each other’s work. She is an honest but tactful critic and celebrates my every achievement!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! A career is an occupation in which there are opportunities for personal advancement, and writing has become that for me.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I can’t say that I would!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’ve been inspired to learn more about the technical side of publishing, such as layout and graphic design.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think it would be fascinating to create a film based on a book of poetry! I would love Viola Davis to play the lead–she is so beautiful and courageous!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read a lot of books in different genres! Take writing classes whenever you can. Develop a keen eye for detail and a thick skin. Network with other writers and find writing mentors who love you enough to critique your work honestly. Submit your work for publication–there are so many online literary journals who are open to new writers. Define success for yourself; you don’t have to be a household name in order to be a great writer. Hard work, belief in yourself and your talent, and a support system for your artistry will prepare you for the opportunities you seek or that will find you.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you’ve bought one of my books, thank you so much. If you’re interested in purchasing them, they are available through Amazon; my author page is here, You can also buy them on Barnes and Noble.com; the link is here.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Alan Light’s What Happened, Miss Simone?
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes! The first book I ever read was The Emperor’s New Clothes, and my first favorite book was Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry book, Alone.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Great jokes make me laugh. Losing people I love and cruelty to people or animals makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to meet President Barack Obama and talk about the healthcare system, race relations in America, and why George Zimmerman is still free.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading books is my most beloved hobby, but I also love to dance–Chicago-style stepping. I enjoy cooking as well.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
“Black Lightning”, “Insecure”, “Queen Sugar”, “Love Is”, “Black-ish”, and “The Chi” are my current favorites. I was a real fan of “Seinfeld” and “Mad Men”.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favoritecolor is green. I am a vegan, and I love Jamaican “ital” (vegetarian), Indian, Mediterranean, and Ethiopian plant-based meals. I love gospel music, jazz, reggae, and old-school R&B!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d have joined the Village of the Ancestors by then!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live. How would you spend that time?
I would sit on the sofa with my mother, sister, son, and niece watching movies and laughing.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved, laughed, taught, and fought through the fountain of her pen. Job well done.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website is here:https://www.carlacherrybxpoet1.com/
Readers can follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackbutterfy18/
I just started a blog. Please feel free to stop by, read a post or two, and leave a comment!
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Carla-M-Cherry/e/B077BM6RGW?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060