Sign up for our FREE Email Newsletter

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

 

Interview with James Tipton, Summer '09 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up


James’s Bio:
James Tipton lives in the tropical mountains of central Mexico where he writes short poems and short fiction. He is also Associate Editor of the monthly magazine in English, published in Mexico, El Ojo del Lago (The Eye of the Lake) and Book Review Editor for the on-line magazine, Mexico Connect. He has published more than 1,000 short stories, poems, articles and reviews in North American magazines, including Esquire, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, American Literary Review, and Field.

His book of poems, "Letters from a Stranger" (with a Foreword by Isabel Allende), won the Colorado Book Award in 1999.

His most recent collections of short poetry are published in bilingual (Spanish and English) editions: "Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village" (Lavando platos en el antiguo pueblo) and "All the Horses of Heaven" (Todos los Caballos del Paraíso). He is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico.

Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village is available through Bread and Butter Press/1150 S. Glencoe/Denver, CO 80246, $10.95 plus $3.00 shipping & handling. All the Horses of Heaven is available through http://www.themetpress.com/, $12.95 plus $4.00 shipping & handling.

He is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico.

Check out his entry, “And To Think That Only Yesterday”, then grab your favorite hot drink and come on back for our latest interview with James.

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: First of all, congratulations on placing again in WOW’s Flash Fiction Contest! What do you think has helped you in producing winning contest entries?

James: I think I was initially helped by reading lots of the past winners on the WOW site. I liked some of those stories and I thought, WOW!, maybe I can write stories like that as well. I like short forms of literature, whether fiction or poetry, and I have published hundreds of short poems, many of them as haiku or tanka, including two collections in 2009: “Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village”, and “All the Horses of Heaven”, both in bi-lingual editions (English and Spanish) incidentally.

WOW: Studying the entries of past winners is a great way to get a feel for what judges are looking for, not just for our competition, but for others as well. Great advice for future contestants to follow.

Speaking of entries, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “And To Think That Only Yesterday”. The imagery was so vivid and rich. What was the inspiration behind it?

James: I like vivid imagery and living here in Mexico life often seems to me to be more vivid, or perhaps I simply have more awareness of how vivid it is.Reading lots of Latin American literature, novelists like my dear friend Isabel Allende (who wrote the introduction to my book, Letters from a Stranger) and Gabriel García Marquez, opened me up to images, including unusual ones, that seemed to penetrate more deeply into reality, so that reality itself shifts, becomes something very fascinating.

WOW: Looks like you studied well. You’ve captured the country’s essence in such an appealing manner, I think.

Switching gears, you mentioned in your previous interview, that among your many publications, your tanka “All the Horses of Heaven” has been published by Modern English Tanka Press. For those who may not have heard of it, can you explain what tanka is?

James: Yes, basically a tanka is a five-line Japanese form of poetry, unrhymed, usually about aspects of love, and initially written by court ladies in Japan in the 6th or 7th century, and sent in secret to potential lovers. They (the lady and the lover) often communicated or understood their relationship through tanka poetry. Usually there are three lines that are followed by two more than often sum up or comment or expand the first three. The form is much older and in Japan is more popular (I have been told) than haiku. You might enjoy “All the Horses of Heaven” (www.themetpress.com).

WOW: I’ve read a bit about this poetic form, and found it more appealing than haiku. Thanks for the explanation and I’ll be sure to check out “All the Horses of Heaven”.

Let’s talk about your writing process. Are there specific themes that you like to explore when you write?

James: I like to explore the age-old themes: love, sex, God, death, what are we doing here in these bodies on this beautiful planet, where did we come from, where will we go? How can we live our lives more deeply?

WOW: Amazing how those themes endure, waiting for a writer to approach them from their own unique perspective, and share their findings with the world. It never gets old.

What about your writing schedule? Is there a specific one that you follow?

James: I write every day, often in the morning, rarely in the afternoon, often in the evening. When I write I like to focus on writing and really like to be totally alone, locked in my room, so to speak. When I eat, although often with others, I like to focus on food. When I make love, I like to be totally focused on the woman I am with. People have always told me I listen well, but that probably only means I focus on the person talking with me. When I walk, I like to pay attention to walking. So, I guess, attention and focus are important things to me, both in writing and in living.

WOW: I agree with you on that. I believe they’re key to the creative process, helps get that story, script, article, poem or whatever you’re writing down and hopefully, published.

In your bio, you mention that you’ve been working your collection of short stories. Can you share how that’s coming along?

James: My collection of short stories, tentatively titled "Three Tamales for the Señor", is almost complete. I have three or four story ideas I want to get down into words and include in the book. I hope to have it finished this year, but I have lots of other writing projects including a monthly column called “Hearts at Work” that I write for a magazine in English published in Mexico called El Ojo del Lago, and I review a book each month for Mexico Connect, and I write lots of articles about Mexico for various magazines, like International Living, and I write lots of short poems, some stories.

WOW: You’ve definitely stayed busy, James! Is there anything else you’d like to share with WOW! readers?

James: Advice? I’d say keep reading WOW! I have found it stimulating and useful. I like, for example, the January piece by Gretchen Rubin, “20 Questions.” I like going through Premium Green now and then.

WOW: Thank you for your insightful interview, James. And again, congratulations, we’ll continue to be on the look out for your work. All the best to you!

To read James’ Summer 2008 interview and contest entry, click here:

And to find out more about the poetic form known as tanka, check out the American Tanka website.

Labels: , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts