Q & A with the Editors
1) What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Wes Bishop: Like where the road can lead you, my thoughts usually don’t have a destination.
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: Oh, definitely a lot. I am often on the road as a commuter, so it is both a joy and a dread that I have so many things to ponder on, from philosophical to political to very personal. I am an observer, so I often catch myself watching people I ride with in transit, speculating about their lives (depends on the fellow commuter, however; if they are rude and annoying, then I’d just be thinking of alternate versions of the same instance where they suffer from some unfortunate or something). I tend to overthink and over-analyze, which is great when it’s about films I’ve just watched and can write an essay on, but can also be a pain when it’s about some awkwardly delivered retort that I made the other day.
M. Perle: Well I’m alone in my car a lot since I commute 4.5 hours to work this semester. Usually I am trying to navigate through the fog in rural Pennsylvania wondering if I am a minor character in the horror franchise The Fog. Sometimes I pretend my commute is one of those long, experimental indie movies from The Factory days.
Ben Berman Ghan: See this is nice. just my thoughts and the open roa… wait a minute. Whose car is this? I can’t drive! How did I get here?! Oh my god a ghost possessed me and made me steal someone’s car!!! Aaah.
2) Explain the most frequent color activated on your hypothetical mood ring.
Taylor Jones: I love yellow, and wish it would be yellow always, but I don’t feel lovable most of the time. Probably because I have Aquarius placements everywhere in my chart. I bet I would be a mix of blue/green and black. My usual mood swings from “cool, man” to deeply moody because of the systemic issues all around us. Is there a “chill, yet not chill” color?
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: A constant shift between light blue and taupe. Nowadays, I am often at my neutral disposition, which is a welcome surprise as someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to my quick Google search, that’d be light blue. It’s not exactly feeling at peace; it’s feeling nothing but remaining calm about it. “Meh” is what I usually call it. However, I get easily stressed and my mind tends to wander off whenever I am tangled in loads of stress, hence taupe.
Wes Bishop: Green.
M. Perle: Opalesque.
Ben Berman Ghan: In my mood ring, fireworks burn, colours popping and and burning and vanishing. Behind it all, there is a deep blue that refuses to fade. It is something like the ocean.
3) How could you describe the pain of the waiting body?
Wes Bishop: It’s like fire refusing to burn.
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: The waiting body does not feel pain as much as it experiences numbness; however, after a long while, pain may actually be more bearable than feeling nothing at all. Soon enough, the waiting body would no longer think that the state of inactivity is rest, but rather torture – a stretch of ennui that does more damage than bruises and wounds. We are all waiting bodies, before we are birthed and after death when all we have left to do is wait for our physical bodies to rot.
M. Perle: “Pumpkin spice ennui.”–Arielle Tipa
Taylor Jones: The waiting body feels tense, perhaps to a degree that it no longer understands how to not be tense. The muscles are engaged but they have nothing to fire towards. Constant stalling of motion can lead to physical and mental pain that can only be remedied through a mindful unwind, but because the body may not understand what it feels like to be unwound, the process takes much longer than the tensing up.
Or, the waiting body could be at ease, feeling no pain. The waiting body could seize the in-between as a moment to dream. The waiting body can be what we will it to be, if those wills are within our control.
Ben Berman Ghan: It is the long dull ache of becoming. It is like being out in the cold for only a little to long, and the quiet pain that comes with the return of feeling.
4) Who were your writing mentors?
Wes Bishop: The teachers I’ve had, the books I’ve read, but mostly the internet.
M. Perle: Same. But also music, experience with relationships, spirit guides who tell me things. Twitter specifically.
Ben Berman Ghan: I’ve been incredibly lucky when it comes to mentors. In my time as an undergraduate, several Professor’s at the University of Toronto have given my writing and my thoughts far more time and attention than they deserve. Bruce Meyer (Portraits of Canadian Writers), Robert McGill (Once We Had a Country), George Elliott Clarke (Execution poems), and Sharon English (Zero Gravity) have all been incredibly kind to me, and I owe them my thanks. It’s also worth mentioning my former peers of The Spectatorial, which was my first literary journal, and taught me my love of editing. also, all my books.
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: I really do not have an actual writing mentor, other than the professors I’ve had as an undergraduate. I’d say that they are the closest that I’ve had to a mentor, as well as friends who are also fond of art and literature. Other than them, I learn from reading; still, I do think that a writer is never self-taught, because most of what she knows, she has learned from someone else’s words.
Taylor Jones: I don’t have a formal writing education, but I learn to write through my reading. I’m trying to remember the first author I read who inspired me to start writing, maybe Mary Karr? And Toni Morrison. Both of these women construct language to write their truth. Similar to what I was saying about Tupac earlier. All of these writers come from places which the reader/listener often deems as unworthy. Thus the language used to convey “normal” ideas and stories won’t be sufficient for their stories. I’m fascinated by that.
5) What writing would you like to see more of in TERSE.?
M. Perle: I want to see a topic or theme that’s needed right now. We should be thinking about parity, how living in different bodies directly influences what we write about. I want to see the piece has been composed with some urgency. A writer who makes me say, “YES! We need to be talking about this!” Topics like mass incarceration, restorative justice, focus on mental health, exploring identity, healing whilst going through political crisis need to be amplified. Writing can also be part of this healing. Things like learning about esoteric subjects/practices and how they’ve been harnessed for survival. Reviews of essential (possibly overlooked) works of art, thinking that goes beyond aesthetic considerations (but still manages to be artful). Life narrative, reviews, interviews, academic-style essays with a twist, experimental poetry, op-eds, audio recordings, letters, collage.
Wes Bishop: Pieces that are about something specific. Poems, essays, short stories, whatever the form is I look to see if the author has communicated, explored, or developed a specific idea, experience, or emotion. Basically, I look for a clear reason of why something was written. The author should be able to tell the reader quickly and clearly why the piece is important and needed. We live in an age that is confronted with political questions, social concerns, and movements of people. I would love to see pieces that engage this reality. Poetry that chronicles a person’s experience in a march, an essay that explains how a person was impacted by a social movement, a short story that explains the importance of some political crises. I want art that grounds itself in the world, because that’s where I and our readers live. Science fiction, political commentary, historical narratives, philosophy, memoir. I love a good memoir. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing an author explore themselves and turn that experience into something readers can relate to.
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: Personal critical essays. Now, this is pretty complicated, since the “right” way to write a critical essay is to be unbiased about the subject matter, thus leaving out the personal as much as possible. However, analyses depend on introspection, albeit supported and framed according to factual assertions. There really is no such thing as objectivity in critical writing, as there is none in creative writing. What I want to see, however, is more essays that embrace and do not shy away from this idea, essays that marry critical and creative thinking. How did your own experiences brought you to certain conclusions, helped you shape your assertions? What do your reading of a particular subject say about your personal worldview?
Taylor Jones: I enjoy writings that interact with the heartbreaking realities around us without shying away from the uncomfortable-ness of those realities. I believe sitting in uncomfortable feelings allows us to understand where those feelings are coming from and how to move towards a better-functioning comfort.
Ben Berman Ghan: There is something in my heart that won’t let go of speculative stories. I’m a big fan of Science Fiction. I love stories about how technology and environment’s change us, whether it be through a teleporter, space travel, AI, time travel, or self tying shoes. I’m not interested in stories that simply world build or create a “hook” by presenting a neat idea alone. I’m interested in stories about feeling, about connection and isolation. I’m also really hoping to read stories from voices different from my own. In our age it is more important than ever to present diverse stories by diverse writers. Also, I don’t mind if your story is dark, or sad. But I also don’t mind a joke now and then. “Puns are permitted in my utopia” (Joseph Heller)
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