Ms. Murdock has also been very involved in Shakespearean theater, which is where I met her.
Without further ado let's get to know a little more about Ms. Murdock and her process and poetry.
As a poet do you feel that you are understood or misunderstood? Why or why not?
I don’t believe that there’s a “correct” way to interpret any work of art and I’m a firm believer in artists not explaining their work to people. A strong work should speak for itself. With that in mind, I think that my minor successes as a writer indicate that I have an audience that takes something from my work, though I can’t say for sure that what they take from it is the same as what I’ve put in. Maybe they’re laughing at me, I don’t know.
How did publishing your first poem change your process of writing? Or did it?
When I first got this question, I realized that I’ve never thought about it. I’m not sure that I’ve changed my process, but I think that the fact that it was the first prose poem I wrote, rather than one written in verse, encouraged me to explore prose poetry more. However, my poem "A Moment of Joy..." in WUSSY Mag’s Fight Issue, is the first piece I’ve had published as Evelyn, as opposed to my dead name, so we’ll see if it has any effect this time.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer/poet?
For me, I think part of the appeal of being a writer is that it’s an inexpensive art form. A lot of people who don’t know me well but feel the need to get me a Xmas gift or something will often buy me things like fancy leather-bound notebooks or nice pens, but the fact of the matter is that I do most of my writing in either Google Docs or with stolen pens in spiral notebooks that I’ve spent less than a dollar on.
But I guess, if I had to say, going to college and taking writing classes hasn’t hurt.
Do you find that poetry is as accepted or less accepted as novels? Why or why not?
Poetry is the oldest form of literature, so it has seniority on its side, but I think that a lot of readers don’t really understand modern poetry. Poetry prior to the Modernists is easy to identify, as it was typically written in verse with meter and rhyme. Modern poetry is a lot denser. It takes more effort to unpack, so I think that a lot of people see poetry as inferior just because it takes up less space on the page.
I was once asked which writers I like at a party. When I started listing poets and playwrights, the guy interrupted me and said “no, I mean real writers.” I was kind of blown away by that, but it makes sense. I’m a millennial, so of course I’ve read a lot of dating profiles online, and I’ve noticed that those who self-identify as “readers” will typically list novel after novel to drive the point home. I think that people feel as though you’re not really reading unless you’re ready to commit to at least a hundred pages. But I have a short attention span.
What type of poetry do you write?
Dr. Dan Colson at Emporia State University called it “Neo-Beat.” I like that.
Why do you write poetry? Have you thought about writing a long piece (like an epic poem) or novel?
I started writing poetry on accident. I played in bands in my late teens/early twenties, and after I stopped, I kept writing lyrics. I didn’t even really think about it as being something I “did” until I took a poetry writing class in undergrad at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and found out that I had actually gotten to be decent at it.
I write lots of things. Poetry just happens to be the one I’m best at. I’ve also written short stories and plays. I’ve never had much of a desire to write a novel. I like for my work to be something that people can take in in a single sitting.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? Why or why not?
I think that anyone can be a writer as long as they’re prepared to take criticism and suck at it for years and years before they ever produce anything decent.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Why?
I’ve noticed that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gets a lot of flack, for some reason. I love that it incorporates cosmic horror into this wacky absurdist story about a man in a bathrobe being thrust into a search for the meaning of existence, when all he really wants to do is have a cup of tea. The commentary in Hitchhiker’s Guide on our own lives and the society we live in has definitely influenced the way I see things today.
How many hours a day do you write? Do you have a set place you write? Can you describe it if you do? If you do not where do you like to write?
I try to write for at least an hour every day, but that’s still dependent on whether or not I’m gonna be a puddle of depression that day. I typically write sitting at a desk or table. If I try doing it in bed I usually just end up watching Netflix.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I think that if I’m just doing my daily writing it can help to get my brain working, but when I get on an idea that I feel good about I’ll keep writing until I’ve finished a first draft. That can sometimes take days, so by the end of it I’m pretty beat.
What are your publishing dreams? Are there any poets today that you admire and aspire to be like?
I’ve joked a lot that I’d like to be included in a Norton Anthology someday. I think that’s how you know that your work has had a significant cultural impact, when a bunch of academics decide to include you in an expensive book that they’re going to make all of their students buy.
I’m a huge fan of Dean Young. I applied to the Michener Center for Writers for my MFA because I would have loved to have a chance to work under him. Unfortunately, I was not admitted to the program.
For aspiring writers/poets what tips or information would you give them?
When you first start writing, you’re going to suck at it for a long time. Don’t let that bring you down. Just keep doing it. I wrote a thousand bad poems before I ever got anything published and I still think that most of what I write is crap.
What does literary success look like to you?
Making enough money to have a house, no roommates, and plenty of food, while having time to focus on writing.
Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you handle it if you did? What about reader’s block?
I almost always have writer’s block. I don’t know that I have a technique for getting over it, other than to force myself to write something until I have a decent idea.
What question do you wish I had asked and what is the answer to that question?
“What is your greatest influence?”
My writing is pretty frantic. I think that it still carries the energy that it did when I was trying to write punk rock songs. I’m fond of grotesque imagery, and at some point in my life I played with sound a lot. Maybe I still do, and I’m just less aware of it. Until recently, a lot of my poetry ended up being prose poetry, but I’ve started straying away from that a little more.
My most recently published poem, “A Moment of Joy Amid a Storm” in WUSSY Vol. 2, is about a childhood friend who I had been reconnecting with. Shortly after I finished the poem, but before I could show it to her, we had a major falling out and haven’t spoken since.
You can buy WUSSY Vol. 2 here: http://www.wussymag.com/shop/the-fight-issue
“Wild Burt Logger and the Kerouac Kid—on the Icy Road to Arkansas, February 2009” earned me the E Nelson James Poetry Award a couple of years ago. It’s a pretty straightforward piece about a former friend and I driving through an ice storm to get from Seattle to Hoxie, Arkansas.
You can read it here: http://www.english.org/sigmatd/pdf/publications/Rectangle16.pdf