We're honored to feature new poetry by Ben Nardolilli in Issue Two of Orson's Review. Issue Two of Orson's Review will be released on March 19th, 2019.
We're also very fortunate for the time Ben took to sit down and chat with us about his journey as a poet.
*The following interview involves Orson's Publishing (OP) and Ben Nardolilli (BN).
OP: How did your journey with the written word begin?
BN: Before I started writing, I created stories for myself and those I played with. Eventually I started to write them down. They weren’t complicated but they had some kind of political angle. The downfall of a bad king was a common theme. Often I created a kind of outline. Over time, these outlines grew more and more detailed as I filled them in to create actual tales. As for poetry, I didn’t begin writing verse until I was in college. I can probably chalk that up to a bad breakup.
OP: Is being a poet your primary occupation?
BN: No. I work as a proofreader of legal documents. Even when I’m writing, I’d say it only occupies half my time. I also write novels and short stories. I’ll devote a block of time to one or the other. I find that when I’ve finished a project in prose, my brain is craving the creative release of poetry. When I’ve written enough poems, my brain will then crave the structure of prose. Occasionally I’ll write a play but none of those have ever seen the light of day.
OP: What about "Objection, Warning, Acceptance" are you most proud?
BN: I guess I’m proud of being able to use the word “Chaplinesque” in Objection, Warning, Acceptance
OP: Tell us about your writing process. Do you approach all pieces of writing in the same way?
BN: No. There is no single genesis for my poems. Some of them are written in the standard way. I have an experience and I write something about it in a direct way. Other poems come from texts that I find. For instance, I’ve composed poems using indexes of titles and first lines in anthologies. I make use of generators too. There’s a song title generator online that’s helpful, as well as one that creates Facebook Statuses on the basis of your previous posts. Even when I use methods like these, I often just use them as a starting point for an opening, and I end up building the rest of the poem based on current events or the way I’m feeling at the moment.
OP: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that impacted your writing?
BN: I thought about being a teacher at times. Mostly though I thought about being a writer in one form or another. It hasn’t impacted the nature of my writer so much as the volume of it.
OP: Tell us about the biggest sacrifice you’ve made while pursuing writing.
BN: Writing is a time consuming activity. I can’t say I’ve lost friendships or lovers over it. I do know how to prioritize and to achieve a work-art-life balance. However, I’ve probably used up my free time writing in the place of consuming pop culture and staying abreast of trends. Compared to a lot of people my age, my knowledge of current movies and TV shows is lacking. I used to be into film more in general and perhaps writing has displaced that in my life. Also I should be reading more, and writing has gotten in the way of that as well.
OP: How many books do you read in a year?
BN: It can vary between a dozen in a bad year to fifty in a good one. These days I do need to read more. I make it a point to finish whatever I’m reading, so if something is a slog to get through it can take months until I read another book.
OP: Do you attend poetry readings? If so, tell us about the best one you’ve ever attended -- what made it so good?
BN: You can’t beat the New York Poetry Festival on Governor’s Island. You have wonderful verse and wonderful views of New York Harbor. You can also listen to poets on different stages while browsing booths for publishers and MFA programs.
OP: What do you want most out of your literary community?
BN: A sense of belonging.
OP: Do you believe that an MFA is crucial to success as a writer today?
BN: It seems that way. I’m not much of a success and I don’t have an MFA. The two may or may not be related.
OP: What do you cross your fingers for as a writer?
BN: An agent for my novels.
OP: Where do you see your journey with the written word going?
BN: Hopefully through the wonderful world of ISBNs.
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.
Be sure to check out Ben’s latest poetry in Issue Two of Orson’s Review.