Today I introduce you to author M.V. Montgomery. Not only is he a brilliant writer, he is a professor by day, at Life University. “In this new collection of lyrics and faux tales, M.V. Montgomery channels a voice from somewhere in the collective subconscious, spinning poems out of ancient ritual and urban legend, made-up monsters and divinities, familiar and alien worlds. In the playful spirit of Calvino or Saint-Exupéry, What We Did With Old Moons sets out not simply to explore mythologies, but to create them anew”. ~Winter Goose Publishing
What inspired you to write your most recent book What We Did With Old Moons?
I think it had to do something with turning fifty and starting to feel a little like an old moon myself! That, and getting interested all over again in studies of fairytales and mythology.
How did you come up with the title What We Did With Old Moons?
The title poem first appeared in Numinous in February 2011. I chose moons as a subject because I have always loved representations of moons, particularly those in old drawings.
It was the first poem in which I experimented with an older speaker who is a teller of tales.
Is there a message in your collection that you want readers to grasp?
It is really all about recapturing the wonder of the world again–a mythological, child-like perspective, though Old Moons is not a children’s book. It is more like Marquez’s “tales for children”: stories styled to suggest the influence of an oral tradition, no matter how fantastic.
Style, to me, always has to be a fit for the subject matter. My first book Joshu Holds a Press Conference had a plain style, somewhat iconoclastic, because I was setting out to revisit some historical subjects and figures and actually do a little debunking of myths. My second poetry book Strange Conveyances was all about dreams, but again the tone was matter-of-fact, because I wanted to pull readers into the dream world and create some surprise effects. Since Old Moons is also conversational in tone, I guess that may be the constant between the three books; but in this case, the speaker is much more over the top, and not me, necessarily.
Night owl, or early bird?
Do you have a writing ritual? Where do you prefer to capture your muse?
First thing in the morning, even before getting up, I like to write down dreams, because they are always my best source material. Then eventually I will make a pot of coffee and sit down at the computer—for the rest of the morning, if I’m not grading papers or teaching.
Beyond University teaching and writing, what brings you joy?
It’s more a who than a what. My wife Nardi, daughter Ada, and stepson Rufi.
What’s the best writing advice anyone has ever given you?
My father has always preached the gospel of E.B. White: to cut unnecessary words, repeated words, “to be” constructions, vague language, and excessive ornamental language. It’s hard to find editors today who actually pay close attention to those sorts of things, and I do have a tendency to wax poetic, so I recall that advice now and then as a way of curbing myself.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learning to revise takes humility and time. But revising is what can transform a verbal spill into art. Sometimes, you just want to get the content down on paper so you can start to push it around and start experimenting. The content could be anything—a dream, or a reaction to a book, or an idea for a character, or a play on words. If you can develop new and clever ways of playing around with what you have and giving it some beauty or integrity, then I guess you’re a writer.
What are your current projects?
I’m just finishing another book called The Island of Charles Foster Kane. It contains lighter poems more focused on pop culture and the media. There are experimental fiction pieces in it also, playful stuff built out of tweets and puns and conversational fragments. Then in May, Winter Goose will publish my first book of full-length stories, Beyond the Pale. It contains Gothic pieces which all connect to Hollywood in some way. It’s a little like an old Alfred Hitchcock collection, a mix of light horror and comedy. I’m happy with the way it’s turned out.
M.V. Montgomery is a native of Minneapolis who has lived and taught in Arizona and Georgia for over twenty-five years. He is the author of two previous poetry collections, the British releaseJoshu Holds a Press Conference, and Strange Conveyances,which Muscle & Blood magazine named best poetry book of 2010. His creative work has appeared in dozens of literary journals and e-zines, and his fiction has also been nominated by editors for Pushcart and PEN/Faulkner awards. A professor at Life University, he lives in the Atlanta area with his family.
You can follow him on his website and Amazon.com