Virginia King Writing in the Outback

I interviewed prolific Australian author Virginia King whose journey of discovery through publishing has led to her Selkie Moon Mystery series. Virginia’s CV includes being a teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery.

Guest blog by Andrew Dillon: Rediscovering the Body in Auvillar, France

A summary of experiences at Virginia Center for the Creative Art’s 2014 “O Taste and See” workshop by Andrew Dillon.

Andrew writing the river.

It’s about 2pm in small-town southern France, what feels to me like early spring (although it’s mid-May), and I’m sitting with my back against a picnic table, facing the Garonne, growing frustrated. I’m cold because I only brought one pair of jeans and nothing warmer than a wind-breaker to Europe, but that’s not why I’m irritated. I briefly consider that I’ll never find in Knoxville a rosé better than the one I had with lunch, but that’s not it, either. I try hearing the river flow in this present moment. Just water. I shift forward, crane my neck, and swear. The reason I’m annoyed is that the damn river won’t say anything to me.

Dr. Marilyn Kallet, our literary leader and guide to Auvillar‘s food, wine, flowers, community, and other muses, has instructed us to “let the river answer.” The prompt plays on a line in Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’. Continue reading Guest blog by Andrew Dillon: Rediscovering the Body in Auvillar, France


The audiences attending the Something Rhymed Literary Salons about the problem of gender inequality in the literary world have experienced something special.

Held at New York University in London, a beautiful, high-ceilinged 18th century mansion in Central London, the discussions have been warm, thoughtful and full of insights into gender bias in society as well as in publishing. But they’ve also celebrated women’s successes as writers and their vital role as readers in supporting the industry.



Andrew Dillon

I interviewed Andrew Dillon, poet and former English teacher at the University of Tennessee about dreams and writing poetry. Andrew’s poems have appeared in several journals including, most recently The Human and Review Americana. He has been described by seventeen-times published poet/translator Marilyn Kallet as ‘a rising star’. 

Leslie: Do you use or record dreams to help your writing? Are there other forms of recording you use? How do you turn your records/sketches into finished poetry?

Andrew: I don’t exactly record my dreams. I don’t keep a dream journal; although, I do have a notepad and pen on my nightstand. Actually, I have notepads and pens everywhere: my nightstand, my car, my office, every bag or backpack I might carry – each has its own pad and pen. Continue reading ON DREAMS & WRITING POETRY


Kelly Oliver talking with Gaby Roslin on her show.
Hidden Jules playing live on radio.

I interviewed two talented and original acoustic folk musicians who write and perform their own material: Julie Williams of Hidden Jules and Kelly Oliver.

HIDDEN JULES are Julie Williams, who sings, writes songs and plays guitar, and Jon Horlick who plays lead guitar and ebow.

Their first album ‘Into The Light’ was released in June 2015 and they are currently working on a second album ‘Spirits In My Wine’. Their song ‘Twisted Town’ featured on the album ‘Blues From The Herts’ in 2015 to raise money for SANE.

Their lyrics deal with emotive subjects such as adventure, love, betrayal, sexuality, taking risks and astral projection.

KELLY OLIVER, who sings, writes songs, plays guitar and harmonica has won an Emerging Excellence Award from Help Musicians UK.

Her debut album ‘This Land’ was with legendary fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominee Luke Jackson. That album and Kelly’s latest, ‘Bedlam’, have both been widely praised and played on BBC Radio 2 & 6.

Kelly’s music ‘crosses musical boundaries, full of thought provoking lyrics and musical arrangement’ – Folk Radio UK .

Continue reading A TALE OF TWO MUSICIANS

Poetry & Religion, part 2

Mark Statman reads at the Latter Library, New Orleans, April 2014.

In part two of Mark Statman’s interview about Religion and Poetry he goes deeper into his own practices and beliefs as a poet. 

Leslie:Joseph Brodsky said: ‘Poetry amounts to the arranging of words with the greatest specific gravity in the most effective and externally inevitable sequence’. How do you, as a writer, aim to achieve additional, symbolic or multi-layered meaning when writing? Is there a kind of deliberate ‘transcendentalism’ or artifice involved in selecting significant detail when you write? Or is the random/chaotic or the post-modern manipulation of sign/symbol a more accurate reflection of life?

Mark: As a poet, I’m not sure, at the moment of first writing, what I’m aiming for in any given poem. While I’m writing, at least in the first or second draft of any poem, I don’t think, oh this will be a good place for an image or this will be a good place for a metaphor, or here it would be interesting to bring in the universe. So, no, I don’t think there is anything deliberate. Continue reading Poetry & Religion, part 2

Ch 3 in Matthew’s coming-of-age tale ‘Purple’ – his gran Mary’s story begins.

Excerpt from ‘Purple’, Matthew Lavender’s coming-of-age tale about courtship, free love and the generation gap. In this reading from chapter three Matthew’s gran, Mary, begins her story.  Filmed/edited by Cynthia Nolan and Rory Gardner. You can read more about/buy Purple here.


Mark Statman reads at Changing Hands Books, Phoenix, Arizona 2013

I asked Mark Statman, associate professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, about Religion and Poetry. His deeply cultured answers reflect the seminal nature of his translations, which include Federico García Lorca‘s Poet in New York and José María Hinojosa’s poetry, plus his latest work-in-progress, a book-length version of Uruguayan poet Martín Barea Mattos. Mark’s own original poetry collections include A Map of the Winds and That Train Again. In thinking about poetry and religion Mark draws on his international experience as both poet and translator. Continue reading POETRY & RELIGION, part 1

Author and Poet