3 Questions for Paul
What was your process for creating this work?
It's interesting that you use the word "process," as much of my work is process-driven. It's my experience that if you sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, you won't get much writing done. I also believe that the more you write, the more you improve, so it's critical to have techniques that you can use to generate writing at any time. In addition, I want my writing to go in unexpected directions, and not to be clichéd or locked in predictable patterns. I use a process-driven approach to address both of my goals, both frequency and unpredictability. One of my methods is start with a book, choose a poem at random, and write whatever comes to mind based on the first line of the poem. Once I run out of things to write, I skip to the next poem and write whatever is triggered by the second line of that piece, and then continue to repeat this process. This forces me to take my work in unexpected directions, and sets up a tension between what I might think I am writing about, and what I am forced to incorporate by the process.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose?
I tend to write my first draft as a solid block of text, usually in an app on my phone. I then manually transcribe it into a document on my computer, at which point I will put it into the form that feels right, be that lineated, prose poem, something more formal like a sonnet, etc. It's a very intuitive thing, I don't usually start writing with the form in mind.
What is the significance of the work to you?
That's a hard question to answer! Based on my writing process, my pieces tend to come from multiple places at once — things which are important to me at that point in time, and things which are interjected by the manner of composition. Among the pieces that you have taken, there are works with very different meanings to me (of course, the reader's interpretation is every bit as valid as mine, so I don't want to privilege my perspective on the work!). "Documenting the War" was written since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so that's part of what's gone into it, but I think that the documentary urge also relates to me personally as an older writer, looking at what gets left behind as my legacy. "Ritual of Mouth" is very stream-of-consciousness, but there's also a strong underpinning of feminism, and the way that women are treated in different cultures. As a father of a daughter, that's important to me. Those are a couple of specific examples, but other aspects that are strongly present in much of my writing relate to ageing, sickness, and the climate crisis.
Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. He is the author of several chapbooks. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Louisiana Literature, Iron Horse Literary Review, Gargoyle Magazine, and Book of Matches. His first album, "Meeting Points," was released in 2021.