We thought you might like to get to know our Curry Poetry Contest winner, Lucian Mattison, and runner-up, Mary Liza Hartong, so we reached out to them to discuss what inspired their prize-winning poems. We hope that their influences and passion for writing will in turn inspire our readers to become our next contest winners.

Interview with Contest Winner Lucian Mattison

Lucian
Winner: Lucian Mattison, for his poem “Yet”

SLAB: What influenced your poem that was submitted to SLAB for our poetry contest?

MATTISON: The poem I submitted to SLAB was mainly influenced by two things, the main one being conversations I’d had with one of my very good friends, Mohamad. He overcame incredible circumstances in his childhood in Lebanon, including living through a bloody civil war, to become a renowned Neurologist and passionate poet. I also just finished the book White Masks by Elias Khoury, an acclaimed Lebanese writer, in the time of writing the poem which undoubtedly pushed the poem along its rails.

SLAB: Are there any unknown poets you are interested in or influenced by that our readers should know about?

MATTISON: Diego Alfaro Palma is a lesser known poet in this country and an emerging poet in Chile and Argentina. I actually went as far as to translate a few of his poems and shared them with him. This began a translation project and beautiful friendship. His third book Litoral Central just came out in South America and I am currently looking for a publisher for his second collection Tordo or Blackbird, which I have been publishing parts of in literary journals here in the US. Palma’s works can be found on Poets.org.

SLAB: What projects do you have coming up in the near future?

MATTISON: I saved for a year and then quit my job, so I am currently traveling and will soon settle down in Sevilla, Spain, for a few months while I attempt a novella. I will assemble my third book of poems in the time I spend procrastinating for my fiction. I also recognize I have to be having fun and seeing new things in order to do the important passive work that is planning and thinking. I’ve also made it a point to watch as many World Cup matches as possible. Does that count as a project?

Lucian Mattison’s latest book from YesYes Books comes out on June 15. Click here to pre-order your copy today!

 

Interview with Runner-Up Mary Liza Hartong

MaryLiza
Runner-up: Mary Liza Hartong for her poem “Ruby Slippery”

SLAB: What influenced your poem that was submitted to SLAB for our poetry contest?

HARTONG: I have always adored “The Wizard of Oz” and all the tributaries that have come from it. You’ve got “Wicked” and that odd film sequel “Return to Oz” and probably countless others. The fact that this story has inspired so many other tales speaks to its timeless appeal. Three women stand at the center–Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda–which makes it especially rife for the type of writing I enjoy. Taking women who have long stood as archetypes (the good, the bad, the innocent) and fleshing them out is great fun.

SLAB: Are there any unknown poets you are interested in or influenced by that our readers should know about?

HARTONG: Billy Collins is my favorite poet. I had the pleasure of meeting him when I was in high school and he was just as genuine and warm as he seems in his poetry. But you said unknown poets. Hmm. He’s not unknown, but Tennessee Williams has some gorgeous poetry. Most people know him for his plays, but his poems are quite a treat as well. The thing is I don’t know the unknown poets because they are unknown!

SLAB: What projects do you have coming up in the near future?

HARTONG: Right now I’m finishing up a memoir about myself and my family. Writing poetry has definitely helped with this project. It has made me pay close attention to each and every word in my memoir such that no sentence is without flow or music.

 

The SLAB staff thanks Lucian and Mary Liza for participating and wishes them the best on their upcoming projects. Looking forward, SLAB will be accepting contest submissions again starting August 1, 2018 until December 1, 2018. We are excited to meet next year’s poetry contest winners!

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