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The Metaworker Podcast | 005 Kurt by Veronicca Lupinacci

Episode Description:

Editors Matthew, Elena, and Melissa talk to Veronica Lupinacci about her wonderful poem, Kurt. We talk about nonfiction, how we remember people, and the general topic of learning to write well.

Referenced in this Episode:

Kurt by Veronica Lupinacci on The Metaworker website; 

Beating a Dead Horse or Good Prose Writing by Matthew Maichen on The Metaworker website; 

Neighbor by Darrell Pateska on The Metaworker website; 

Daniele Pantano, poet recommended by Veronica; 

Billy Collins, poet recommended by Veronica

Author Bio:

Veronica Lupinacci is poet, an adjunct writing professor at State College of Florida, and a Grant Officer for Mote Marine Laboratory is Sarasota, Florida, U.S. where she crafts foundation proposals and reports to grow philanthropic support for marine conservation research and education. Her poetry has been published in journals including BOAAT, Gravel, McNeese Review, Haiku Journal, and The Pinch, and she is the author of a children’s book used for ESL education in Beijing, China.

Episode Transcript:

Mathew Maichen (00:01):
Hello. We are The Metaworker podcast. I am Matthew Maichen. I am the editor-in-chief.

Elena L. Perez (00:07):
I’m Elena, the managing editor.

Melissa Reynolds (00:10):
And I’m Melissa or Mel, just an editor. Hello.

Elena L. Perez (00:13):
An awesome editor.

Mathew Maichen (00:15):
Yeah. And today, Darin and Marina are both busy with various things in life, but we’re here and we have Veronica Lupinacci. I’m sorry. Did I pronounce that right?

Veronica Lupinacci (00:27):

Mathew Maichen (00:27):
Lupinacci. There we go. You know what? I am partially Italian. It’s one of the biggest things in my genetic makeup, so I really should get that right. So, I am going to hand things over to Veronica herself, and she is going to talk to us and read from “Kurt”, her poem that we published.

Veronica Lupinacci (00:47):
Hello, everyone. I’m glad to be here. My name is Veronica. I have a background in writing and education. My MFA is from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I have taught writing from 2, 3, 4 year olds, all the way up until college, into adulthood. I’ve taught ESL to kids in China over the internet. I’ve taught middle school in New York City. I am now an adjunct instructor at State College of Florida. My day job though, now, is that I am a grant officer. I’m a grant writer for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. What I do during the day is I write proposals and reports to help get philanthropic support, basically to raise money for marine research and education programs. So, that’s a little bit about me. I live in Florida, in Sarasota. I love [the] outdoors and simple things—food and hanging out with dogs and animals and going hiking and stuff like that. That’s enough about me. I’m going to begin and I’m going to tell you about “Kurt”, someone, if you can’t guess, who was very important to me. Kurt:

Veronica Lupinacci (02:10):
Kurt wouldn’t eat yellow rice. He didn’t like that exotic food. He narrated our trip to Iowa one summer, had a story for every exit on every road, tooth-whistling through details while I dozed in the back seat with Julia. There’s a Mac-Dawnulds, there’s piggly wiggly, there’s hi-way 54, I remember one time me ‘n this other fella we ran I tell you we passed that er chicken plant…bug nearly ran us off.. the ones got spots on it an’ it flies…There’s another Mac-Dawnulds…. He collected jelly and ketchup packets. He built trailers, he hung wallpaper, he made broken things tick. Kurt had a laundry basket of unopened prescriptions from the VA hospital behind his TV chair. He had a garage full of car and flag tshirts, dungarees piled with oils rags. He muttered in his yard through winding aisles of engine parts, stacks of fence sections, hubcaps, pvc pipes, the hull of a boat growing yellow weeds and tadpoles. Teaching us to drive, he just said Where you look is where yer gonna go. The man never wore a belt. But he let his wife dye his white hair a yellow-orange color and he kissed her every time he came home and he kissed her every time he left for work. From the time I was 11 years old he addressed me as “short people.” While emptying his 98 year-old mother’s catheter bag into the toilet one morning he told Julia and I the secret to marriage. From down the hall we heard him say Man chases woman ‘til a man falls down.

Veronica Lupinacci (04:25):
And that’s it.

Mathew Maichen (04:28):
Thank you so much.

Veronica Lupinacci (04:33):
You’re welcome.

Elena L. Perez (04:33):

Melissa Reynolds (04:33):

Mathew Maichen (04:33):
For those who don’t see the video right now, I’m clapping, ’cause I especially love that you did the “Kurt” voice. I guess that answers…when we got to the question portion, that was going to be my first question of whether Kurt was a real person or a fictional person you made up. And I guess Kurt is a real person. But, I think what’s really interesting about this is that when I read this, to me, Kurt almost felt like a fictional person because I feel like we all know someone who is a Kurt or Kurt-like. When I read this, I thought of various types of people I’ve met in my life who resemble this, and the very objective description of witnessing this person as an outside observer, you know? There’s no internal thoughts given to Kurt. The speaker is entirely an observer of a series of behaviors. And maybe not the most important behaviors, right? Not the…I don’t want to say ‘not the most important’, I want to say not the kind of behaviors that, if you were going to get really literary about it, would be the crucial things that would reveal a character’s secret heart, you know? Just a series of events in which this character is featured. It makes it feel very realistic and very grounded because that is what you would see, you know? You’re going to see these moments from this person.

Elena L. Perez (06:47):
Well, it’s all these little details, right, that make this person unique. Like you said, Matthew, everybody has a person like this that they know that’s…Not necessarily these details. Each reader brings their own person and that person has their own details, but it’s relatable because of that reason.

Melissa Reynolds (07:10):
This is why I love this poem, because “Kurt” was alive to me. I mean, I could so clearly see him in my mind’s eye and he is so endearing. He seemed like my own grandfather, because my grandpa was from the sticks of West Virginia and he would call everything “dizzy”. I could almost put my grandpa Vic in Kurt’s place. I’m the type of person…I love characters. That’s what draws me to writing. So, to see a poem that’s about a character just really did it for me.

Mathew Maichen (07:49):
Yeah. This is something that…I love that you mentioned a poem that showed a character ’cause that was one of the things I was going to comment on. Normally, you associate characterization with prose, but this is a poem, and it has the rhythm of poetry—it’s subtle, but it is there. I like that subtlety, by the way. It fits the piece. It fully characterizes this man to the point that, by the time you are done, you just fully know who he is. I appreciate that a lot. The funny thing is, back when I thought that “Kurt” was fiction, I was actually gonna ask you, how much was he inspired by living in Florida, but now I realize this is just an organic portrayal of a human being.

Elena L. Perez (08:57):
Well, I liked, too, that the word choice in this also reflects Kurt’s character. It’s not fancy wording. It’s just plain and simple. No nonsense, you know? Words that kind of reflect him. ‘Cause he seems that way, as well, through the details that you get.

Melissa Reynolds (09:20):
I would like to point out, I loved hearing you read this, Veronica, because you brought such a different cadence to it than what I did when I read it myself. And then you brought humor and the laugh in your voice just really brought it to life for me. So, now it makes me want to go out and say to every poet that I meet, read this for me.[laughs]

Mathew Maichen (09:48):
[laughs] Okay. So, you know I’m a very big ending person. I wrote an entire thing about endings that I posted to the site. What do we think about the ending? I love the juxtaposition of the two… When he says this thing and what he says, because it says, “while emptying his 98 year-old mother’s catheter bag into the toilet, he told Julia and I the secret to marriage ‘man chases woman till a man falls down'”. That parallel of him taking care of his mother while saying that…I found that so interesting. The fact that that was included…just so interesting, and I want to take some time to talk about that. Where he’s a caretaker, you know, this is what he does and this is the way he words it.

Elena L. Perez (11:05):
Yeah. I love that because, yeah, you’re right. He’s saying this while he’s taking care of his mother and obviously it seems like he has a good marriage, as well, but also he’s directing this to Veronica, I guess. Usually I don’t like to assume, but in this case, I think it’s obvi…

Veronica Lupinacci (11:32):
You assume that I’m the speaker, yes, go ahead. Absolutely.

All (11:32):

Elena L. Perez (11:32):
So, you’re also a woman, so it’s like he has all these women in his life who he’s taking care of. From this poem, I understand that he’s not with us anymore, but it’s obvious that this is a very important thing to him to do throughout us life.

Melissa Reynolds (11:55):
And it injects that little bit of humor that I was talking about, too, because, you know, it’s kind of funny to think about a guy chasing a woman around until he falls down.

All (12:05):

Elena L. Perez (12:05):
That’s true. [laughs]

Melissa Reynolds (12:09):
Yeah, it strikes me as the…I don’t know…I keep putting my own grandpa in this, but you know, the ‘down-home backwoods’ wisdom. You know, I have family that have never gone to school. They’ve never done anything beyond your typical minimum wage job, yet there’s something about them. They have this kind of wisdom that they put in their own words that it’s, like, ‘yeah, that’s right. That’s a good idea’. So, I guess it’s kind of like remembering not to judge people because they have their own type of wisdom that can be useful for anyone.

Mathew Maichen (12:57):
I love that. I love the idea of taking that anti-poetic wisdom that’s worded in a way that we would not think of as poetic and then putting that in the medium of poetry so that it then becomes poetic, you know? So that it then becomes a deeply literate, deeply prosaic, poetic thing. It’s almost like it deserves that, and we’re doing that for it now.

Elena L. Perez (13:34):
And I just gotta say, I love that he addressed you as short people. [laughs] That was great.

Mathew Maichen (13:40):
“Short people”, oh my gosh. [laughs]

Veronica Lupinacci (13:47):
All of this is true. [laughs]

Elena L. Perez (13:49):
I love that.

Veronica Lupinacci (13:50):
I wish…you would assume that “Kurt” was fictional and I wish I could come up with characters that well. I really do. No, this is just someone who was around during my childhood who was very important to me. It was my best friend’s stepfather. He was another parental figure to me, or maybe more like a grandpa/uncle kind of figure, and everything about it is true.

Elena L. Perez (14:19):
Those are the best though, right? Just the fact that you didn’t even have to make this up. I mean, people are just this interesting. Like you were saying, Mel, no matter where they come from, no matter what background they are, everybody has an interesting story to tell, or somebody can tell [it] for them or…just…uh, yeah, this is why I love storytelling.

Mathew Maichen (14:44):
This flows really well into the next part of the piece, which is going to be the interview part, but I want to just say for a second, we’ve been getting a lot of nonfiction recently. Now that I know that this is nonfiction…I think that is an interesting thing about nonfiction. It’s about the window, right? Because you can show us anything, but it’s about the window through which we see these events, the order that we see them in, the events that were chosen to be portrayed. There is meaning in that. This is a really good example of that, especially because it is so short, because it is a poem rather than prose. There were probably hundreds, thousands of moments with Kurt that were not chosen to be here, but there were specific moments that were chosen, and that is how the story is told. I think we’re gonna move on, actually, because Veronica seems ready to talk about this and answer our questions. So, how does it feel? This is always the first question. How does it feel to have us discuss this piece and bring our own interpretations to it? Does it feel like there’s anything wrong about what we’re saying or is it just interesting to hear other people discuss your writing?

Veronica Lupinacci (16:35):
No, nothing feels inherently wrong at all. I don’t feel any kind of, like, ‘oh, I wasn’t getting my point across’. There’s no hairy-scaries or roadblocks or anything like that. I definitely feel like it came across. I mean, it’s interesting. I can’t imagine that it feels the same, or it is the same to me because it is based on a real person, but to hear you talk about the impression that you had of this character after reading it and, you know, personally knowing what the character was based on, I feel like I did it right because it came across, you know what I mean? Kurt definitely is…you know, Mel, I feel like you were making me cry beause you said, ‘I feel like it’s brought him to life’, and Kurt is not currently living. He passed away, gosh, more than 10 years ago now. So, yeah, it feels good, and I’m really glad to be able to talk about it with you guys. I feel like…you were talking about that kind of character…I’ve written a handful of these sort of character sketch poems about people in my life, and some of them, I think, are more successful than others. I wrote one about my mom that, you know, is really hard to touch on…painful…you can imagine the relationship a daughter and a mother have probably is wrought with a lot more attention than somebody like Kurt. So, you know, a lot of these different poems…there’s one about Jeannie…I don’t know how successful each of them are, but I feel like Kurt, obviously, is doing all right, because you guys kind of got the Kurt vibe. So, I think that’s good.

Melissa Reynolds (18:21):
Something I like about poetry is…I mentioned to you earlier that I’m more of a prose person, but I’m learning about poetry. One of the things that really draws me to it is this idea that it’s collaborative. You bring a meaning, we’re bringing our own meaning, and together we build this…or rather you build the poem, but we bring our own meaning to it. Somehow in the process, I own part of it because of the meaning I’ve made out of it. So, you know, like I said, it brought to mind my grandpa Vic. It obviously wasn’t him, but I really like this idea of how we work together in a sense. After hearing you talk, I wonder if that could be taken to a third degree, like somehow Kurt is also participating and making meaning. I think this is a lovely tribute to him, by the way.

Veronica Lupinacci (19:22):
Yeah. I mean, insofar as when you talk about character…I wouldn’t even just say poetry, but any kind of a portrayal of a character…his family had a lot…there was a whole family in the back[ground] in each of these scenes. I mentioned Julia, but his wife, Linda, was there. There’s a whole family that goes into the building of that moment, and what I was trying to do as a poet was just X-acto knife…pick out these tiny little things. I had no idea if they were going to portray what I was trying to get across.

Elena L. Perez (19:56):
I think it did that really well though, because even just a small mention here and there, like you said, of Julia, of his wife, and these people placed specifically within the lines, you do get that sense of this bigger family that he’s part of. So, you did a good job with that. [laughs].

Mathew Maichen (20:17):

Elena L. Perez (20:17):
I think one question I had was: why did you choose to tell this story in poetry instead of, say, prose? Well, I guess this is prose poetry, but in a different way, I guess. ‘Cause you could have done a flash piece or, you know, some other short piece, but why did you choose, specifically, the form of poetry?

Veronica Lupinacci (20:41):
I chose it because I was in graduate school for poetry and I had to write a lot of poems.

All (20:55):

Mathew Maichen (20:55):
I love that honesty.

Elena L. Perez (20:55):
As good an answer as any.

Veronica Lupinacci (20:55):
But really, why writing poems instead of, you know, why did I choose to talk about Kurt in a poem instead of perhaps in a personal essay or something like that? I don’t know, man. That’s just how my brain works. I like things to be succinct, you know? So, that’s why. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. [laughs]

Elena L. Perez (21:16):
[laughs] No, that’s a great reason. I’m with you there with, you know, short and sweet. I love it.

Mathew Maichen (21:22):
Yeah. I just want to say…to make things a little bit more serious for a second, if that’s okay. When you were talking about remembering people through poetry, it really reminds me of…and this ties into what we choose to remember and the nonfiction…it really reminds me of my best friend. He is now no longer with us because of cancer, and I couldn’t write a poem about it for a really long time. When I finally did…you have this infinite list of moments, right? When it’s someone you’re close to. Choosing the right ones…I identify with that so much and I guess I just want to ask: when you went in—I’m sorry, i’m turning this into a question—when you went in and went through all of your memories of Kurt, what was the big criteria for what would be a significant memory to choose? A significant thing to show. Was it just something that came to you? Was this a conscious or unconscious thing?

Veronica Lupinacci (23:02):
So, I always—to my students and for myself—stress the importance of revision and taking distance, mental and emotional distance from your writing, and then returning for several revisions after that distance and probably doing that several times. So, the answer is, yes, “Kurt” was a naturally-occurring piece of art that sort of germinated naturally. It bubbled up inside of me and as it came out, it came out messy, like most heartfelt things do. But in revision, what I chiseled away…so that what remained, I think I chose based on if I felt like those things were conveying an important part of Kurt, right? So, yeah, there is some picture-painting there. You know, I start a little bit with his cadence, him on the road…you know, I try to paint the picture just so we get a vibe going, a tone, a mood going, and you kind of get an idea. But then what I chose to leave in, I chose because I hoped that those things were exemplary characteristics. I hoped that those things would mean something to the reader. I tried to choose a few parts of Kurt’s personality and his sort of moral standing and the influence he had on me and what I learned from him. I tried to really break that down. Something that I do with writing, with teaching, and with myself, is just to constantly…I guess this is my sort of inclination towards poetry and things being succinct…Is making things simpler. Whittle it down even more. The bones of something should be able to convey everything that’s there. You know what I mean? Sometimes when things get a bit too flowery or they go on and on, I think we indulge ourselves, honestly. Especially when we’re young writers, we just…’oh my God, these words, and look at all these images, and look what I can do with this’. We’re just impressing ourselves, you know? You ever write a poem or an essay or a piece of fiction. You sit there and you finish it. You have a couple of glasses of wine, you sit there and you reread it, I mean, navel-gazing all the way. You just read it and read it and read it and think, ‘I am a genius’. And then you wake up in the morning a little foggy. You look at it again, you walk away, you go to work, you come back and you’re like, ‘oh, this is all unnecessary. This is just me going on about my feelings’. Let’s take a knife to it and really be selfless. Consider the audience and stop talking about me and my feelings. [Think about] what is actually coming through in this poem. So, that’s what I try to do when I’m writing.

Elena L. Perez (25:52):
Love that.

Mathew Maichen (25:55):
Yeah, I love it because Elena, Darin, Marina, and I met when we were the editors of an on-campus literary magazine. So, we did choose from a lot of young writers and it is so common to run into these poems, stories, pieces, where it is just, like, ‘look what I can do with words’, you know?’ ‘Look at this technique that I have figured out how to use’. I love that you’ve managed to whittle it down to like, ‘okay, that’s cool, but what are we doing that’s getting this effectively across to the audience?’.

Veronica Lupinacci (26:41):
In earlier correspondence, Mel had mentioned something to me about thinking about advice for younger writers. I’m going to kind of tell you a story at this moment, if that’s okay, ’cause I feel like we’re at that point in the conversation. When I was ‘little poet Veronica’, when I was a wee teen, you know, bleeding heart artist…

Elena L. Perez (27:02):
Short person. [laughs].

Veronica Lupinacci (27:02):
Oh, I’m still short. [laughs] I was studying at University of South Florida under Daniele Pantano. If you ever get a chance to check him out, [he’s a] wonderful poet and translator, but he gave us this wonderful opportunity to meet Billy Collins, THE Billy Collins. So, I took a masterclass with Billy Collins, which was a super rare and wonderful opportunity for a young poet. And Billy Collins pissed me off.

All (27:36):

Veronica Lupinacci (27:40):
Oh, my god, I was livid. He offended me. So, basically, this is what Billy Collins…I’m not quoting him because it was 20 years ago and I don’t remember exactly. He says, essentially, you’re writing for the audience. You’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for your audience. If you could imagine little Veronica with all of my love and death themes, you know, and all of my feelings and my [inaudible] and my—uh, all of my artwork. Oh my goodness. I was like, ‘oh, how dare…’ you know, it really pissed me off. I won’t say it took me twenty years to figure out what he meant, and I can only speak from what I can extrapolate now, but as a teacher and as someone who’s way past that point…one of the main mistakes I think you make when you’re young and you’re expressing yourself is you don’t consider your audience enough and you don’t revise enough. You feel like whatever is coming out of you is…you know, you have to move past catharsis. You have to actually start perfecting the craft and considering your audience. I say that a lot with my students. ‘Consider your audience’ and ‘revision, revision, revision’. You can’t just expect something to—kerplunk—just come out of your soul. Just, yeah, there it is. It’s beautiful because it felt beautiful coming out of me. Like, ‘no, man’. When I was a young poet, I wrote a lot of stupid crap, really just emotional. I was able to take a lot of those poems, with time and experience, find the root of them and turn them into better poems. When I was a kid, they were just, ‘oh my heart, my heart, my heart’, and now, you know, you try to make it a little bit better. I still wax poetic about love and death, but those are just my themes within me. [laughs] But, yeah, I think it’s really important to consider your audience.

Mathew Maichen (29:42):
That’s so awesome because I think that ties so much into why you write, right? So many people, I think, who are writing for an audience, that’s how they get their writing out there. Because they’re writing for an audience. I think that with poetry in particular, I think that it’s so interesting. I think you can…I’m not disagreeing with you, [but] I think that you can write for an audience or you can write for yourself, but if you write for yourself, it’s not for other people. I know people who write breakup poems whenever they have a relationship problem. Whenever they have relationship issues. And I know someone who, when she breaks up with someone, she will write poems and she’ll have a nail on her wall and she’ll just: write a breakup poem, put it on the nail, write a breakup poem, put it on the nail, write a breakup poem, put it on the nail. None of those breakup poems on that nail ever go anywhere is the crucial thing, right? Those aren’t for other people, they’re just her getting that out. But if you are submitting to be published by other people, you know, those breakup poems…so many poets don’t get that separation, right? Those breakup poems that you wrote that are for your catharsis, that are for you getting over that, that are therapeutic for you, they might not resonate with another person. And that’s okay. That’s just the way it is.

Elena L. Perez (31:16):
You need those poems. It helps you develop your thoughts and you can go back later and create those layers that maybe you weren’t thinking of as you spilled them out the first time

Melissa Reynolds (31:31):
I read a book a while back about keeping a writer’s journal and this is coming back to me because I think having that journal and that space to have the verbal diarrhea or the vomit that you need to put out there to get all those feelings out. I think you should absolutely have that space, but go to it knowing, ‘this is for me’. Maybe I can find something useful in it for later that I can develop, but for now, only me. I found that…might sound kind of silly, but I have a muse, and I feel like my muse doesn’t like it when I take stuff that’s meant just for me and try to turn it into something for someone else. Then he disappears and never comes back. Well, not maybe not never, but it’s harder to get back into that space. It feels almost like a betrayal of myself, somehow, when I share something that’s just meant for me. I think that’s another thing to think about.

Veronica Lupinacci (32:36):
I think it not only affects…as exercise, I like to…you know, it’s a double-edged sword thinking too much of the audience. If you think too much of the audience, I assume you’re going to start internally and subconsciously censoring yourself as it’s coming out of you, right? And you don’t want that. You don’t want to upset your muse. You don’t want to turn the muse away. You want to feel like things are still flowing freely. So, certainly, I guess that’s where I’m talking about revision, you know? Lay it out there straight from the heart and don’t think about what you write before you write it. Just—blech—put it all out there. Feelings, words, just throw it all on the page. Then if you want, nail it to the wall because that’s where your heart needs it to be, or if you want to try to submit it somewhere, go back and start going through the weeds and figuring out how to make a structure to it.

Melissa Reynolds (33:30):
I think that’s really good advice for starting with poetry, too. ‘Cause, you know, like I said, I’m big on stories, so I’m dabbling in poetry now. I’ve found one of our former [guests], one of the people we spoke to before, Paul [Rabinowitz] has this method where you just write. No punctuation, no grammar, no even capitalization, you just write and write and write. He has it circle back, but I’ve found doing that, and then cutting out the…pulling up the weeds, like you say, I found a poem within it. To me that’s awesome and fascinating. I love it.

Veronica Lupinacci (34:12):
Fun. There’s a lot of fun exercises like that.

Elena L. Perez (34:14):
This is like a masterclass with you, Veronica. [laughs]

Mathew Maichen (34:16):
Yeah. I’m so happy…

Veronica Lupinacci (34:16):
Uh, maybe not quite…[laughs].

All (34:16):

Mathew Maichen (34:23):
That’s why it’s so great, ’cause honestly, when we reached out to you, we did not know that you were a person who taught writing, so that’s why this interview has…it’s great that it has surprisingly gone in this direction. So, going back to writing autobiographically. Let’s go back to that. With “Kurt”, you say that you write multiple of these poems about people that you know, people that you’ve been close to, and let’s connect that to catharsis. What does that do for you? How does that benefit you, do you think?

Veronica Lupinacci (35:18):
Well, I don’t know. I think the answer to that varies. Kurt has passed away, so it’s a bit of an homage, you know? Jeannie, same thing. Some of the people that I’ve written these poems about are still living and I see them all the time. I think what it does for me is different depending on the situation, but I think, moreso, the reason or why I’m compelled to do that [is] I just see such beauty in the world. In small moments and in people. I guess I just want to try, for a moment, to share with the world just quite how it glistens for me. You know, you ever look at someone you love and you just…you know they’re not glowing.You know there’s no sparkle, really, in their eye. There’s no magic swirling around them, but you know it’s there. You can see it. How do you get other people to see a person or a moment like that? When you go out in the morning…gosh, I go out so many mornings and I walk with my dogs and I hear birds and I see beautiful trees and flowers around my neighborhood and I breathe in air and I think, ‘oh God, it’s not a thousand’—I live in Florida, so when it’s not a thousand degrees, I’m like, ‘oh my God, what a gorgeous day’. I really do become overwhelmed with the beauty of being alive. So much. And then, to just say to your neighbor, ‘what a beautiful day it is’, or ‘geez, I really love my family’ or ‘I have a friend who is very interesting, you’d love to meet them’. That doesn’t really do it justice, does it? It doesn’t really capture the moment.

All (37:02):

Elena L. Perez (37:02):
So underwhelming.

Veronica Lupinacci (37:06):
Yeah. So, I don’t know. I’m just like…for me, I don’t know…I feel like I want to share the beauty that I see with other people.

Mathew Maichen (37:12):
I love that so much. I have so much respect for that because, on my end, I went through this whole thing a few years ago where…you know, a lot of poetry is negative from people. That’s just a fact. A lot of people write poetry about negative experiences. Personally, I was like, ‘you know what? I’m going to write positive poetry. I’m going to write poetry about positive experiences and things I love in life without any tragic element to it. It’s just going to be about joy’. I could not do it. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t my thing. But I want life to be positive, you know? I want life to be positive for people. I want life to be happy for people. So, I respect you so much for doing that and putting that into poetry and sharing that with people

Veronica Lupinacci (38:05):
I hate to disappoint you, but a lot of my poetry is very depressing and, like, love and death. Referencing a friend that passed and a huge part of this thesis, this collection that that came from is about my best friend dying. You know what I mean? So like…what I will say is, I don’t know, maybe stop trying to write positive and just see the positive in the darkness. Do you know what I mean? Like, I can’t…Oh man, I used to get so much crap in grad school. They would really make fun of me ’cause it was just, like, love and death and ‘haha Veronica, you’re writing more about love and death’. Such exhausted themes, right? And I’m, like, ‘but I’m trying to see the beauty in the darkness’. So, I don’t know, maybe don’t try to write about positive stuff. Try to write about the things that make you feel beauty or positivity or hope within those dark themes. I don’t know. I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I just…that’s kind of what worked for me. Maybe? I think?

Mathew Maichen (39:13):
I respect that a lot. Thank you.

Veronica Lupinacci (39:17):
Because who wants to read about rainbows and sunshine and crap. That’s not interesting.

All (39:19):

Mathew Maichen (39:19):
Thank you so much.

Elena L. Perez (39:19):
Wise words from Veronica.

All (39:19):

Mathew Maichen (39:28):
See, you have that teacher voice, too, is the best part. Connecting with people and getting your points across in this way. Uh, I love that.

Elena L. Perez (39:41):
Well, since Darin’s not here, I’ll ask his usual, which is: how did you hear about The Metaworker and what made you want to submit this poem to us?

Veronica Lupinacci (39:52):
I heard of The Metaworker on Duotrope. You guys use Duotrope?

Elena L. Perez (39:58):

Mathew Maichen (39:58):
Now we do.

Veronica Lupinacci (39:58):
So, I was looking for things…I had some extra pieces and I was like…I don’t know. What I guess I wish I could say is I heard of The Metaworker from some organic, natural way and started reading it and…no, that’s not what happened. I was looking for a home for this poem and I found you guys on there, and so I started reading through your archives and I really fell in love with your publication. Actually, you guys posted one recently—it was in March, by Darrell Petska. I just want to call out to this guy, Darrell Petska. I think it’s a guy. I guess I shouldn’t assume. His work…yeah, Darrell Petska. It’s called “Neighbor” and it was posted on March 22nd. Anybody listening, go back and read that one because I think he does a great job. We’ve been talking a lot about portraying a character in a poem and those kinds of details that you choose. He has a character in this poem “Neighbor” called Don. Presumably a neighbor. I don’t know if it’s real or not, anything like that, but man, he does a fantastic job at it. Sorry. I know I went off topic there, but I really wanted to give that guy a shoutout because I thought it was good.

Mathew Maichen (41:18):
That’s not off topic at all.

Elena L. Perez (41:18):
No, that’s great.

Mathew Maichen (41:18):
I just want to say, and I’ve said it before, but one of our major goals here is…I believe that we are in something of a golden age with art and the art that people are producing, and that has good and bad qualities. One of the unfortunate sides of that is that things get lost in the shuffle, right? One of our goals in The Metalworker—you see us posting things twice a week and we’re not slowing down. There’s just more stuff to post. There are so many quality things that are being sent to us. It’s amazing the things that people are producing and the lack of attention that amazing art is getting. So, I love that you pointed out this piece that we published and you’re right. It’s great. That’s why we published it. We loved it. That’s one of our goals and on my end, I appreciate your honesty because I’m also a writer. I also submit things for publication. The big thing in publication in collections these days is that people will put out a call for submissions being like, ‘I want religious-themed dystopian scifi horror submissions’. Okay, I get it. That’s great, but not everyone is writing a religious-themed dystopian sci-fi horror submission, you know? There’s so many things that are…

Veronica Lupinacci (43:13):
Well, I feel like if you asked for dystopian-themed scifi horror, you probably wouldn’t have seven or eight to publish. You’d probably just get one or…

Mathew Maichen (43:19):
That’s true!

All (43:19):

Mathew Maichen (43:19):
When I write, there’s so many things I write that don’t have a home, you know? Because they don’t fit the criteria of what people are looking for. That’s another one of our goals in doing this. We want to give pieces that deserve a home that home that they deserve.

Veronica Lupinacci (43:44):
I love what you guys do. I may not have come to it for that reason. I may have been searching for selfish reasons, but once I started reading everything you guys posted, I couldn’t stop going back in your archives ’cause it’s all …well, you’re right. It is all wonderful stuff.

Elena L. Perez (43:58):
Well, I was going to say, even if you found us through Duotrope, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s good. That means you’re finding us. We’re out there and I hope more people find us because we want more selfishly, too. [laughs]

Mathew Maichen (44:16):
[laughs] Yeah. We always think we’re going to run out of things to post and then we never do. It’s amazing, the quality of art that exists right now.

Veronica Lupinacci (44:31):
I think it always has. I think because we have the internet, we just have access to all of it, which is so exciting.

Mathew Maichen (44:35):
Mm hm. Oh, Yeah.

Veronica Lupinacci (44:35):
Sometimes I get really depressed about, like, think about all the lost art in the world. I don’t know, it just breaks my heart, you know what I mean? You know most of the stuff we are aware of is probably because they knew somebody who was high up [and] those people were probably jerks. That’s probably why anybody knew their name. You know what I mean? I’m not saying…but you know what I mean? So much of what gets to the top doesn’t always get there for the right reasons. Of course we have some wonderful classics, you know, and there’s been so much wonderful art and poetry and writing published, but yeah, man, we got the internet now. Now it’s just…we’re all in it together. We can all get to each other and celebrate it. It’s awesome.

Mathew Maichen (45:20):
Yeah. And because we are a purely online publication—we’ve never printed anything—we get so many international submissions. It’s really fascinating. We’ve gotten translated poetry before and we published, side by side, the translation and the original in Albanian, I believe. It was an Albanian poem. I didn’t understand the original version, but someone is going to, so I figure I might as well share the original version just in case you understand it as well as the translated version, which is what I understand. It’s beautiful when you open that door and let people share with you. I guess at this point, we could ask, is there any…this is the other question Darin really likes to ask: Is there anything that you want to give a shoutout to? You already gave a shoutout to something that we published, but I don’t want to be greedy. Is there anything in the literary world right now that you want to give a shoutout to, [that] you want to recommend to our readers and our listeners?

Veronica Lupinacci (46:38):
Certainly. There is a book that just came out recently through Black Lawrence press by a wonderful poet named Samantha Deal called “Something Opened”. The reason that I love this book so much, oh, I don’t know that I could pick a single reason, to be honest. I won’t do that. But, just to give you an idea of it in case you might want to check it out. Essentially the main theme or topic is the speaker was in a really severe car accident as a child. So, there is a lot of physicality. The book is very rooted in a very gritty, physical sense, but there’s also so much water, so much love, and so much movement through time and space in this book. For me, reading this book feels a bit like, I don’t know, there’s a bit of a wave washing back and forth on the shore, so it sort of has a fluid sense of moving between memory, traumatic memories, present day, childhood and adulthood, love, and dreamlike states, and reality. And it doesn’t feel confusing. I think in part because it is so deeply rooted and grounded in that stark physicality, but there is just such a fluid sense about it and it is just exquisitely written. It’s a pleasure to read and it reveals so much more every time you read it. That is what I would say about Samantha Deal’s “Something Opened”. And the cover is really good, too. The artist that did the piece on the front is awesome.

Melissa Reynolds (48:30):
That sounds amazing. I’m definitely going to check that out.

Mathew Maichen (48:32):

Melissa Reynolds (48:33):
Thank you for sharing it.

Veronica Lupinacci (48:33):
You’re very welcome.

Mathew Maichen (48:36):
Car accidents…man…that’s another thing…

Veronica Lupinacci (48:39):
It’s intense. It’s an intense book.

Mathew Maichen (48:42):
And that’s something that a lot of people can identify with. A lot of people have been in that kind of accident and it’s great when you are able to share those emotions. Thank you so much. We have a running list of links from things that people have shared. I already posted it in the discord and we’re going to add it to that list of links that we have, so thank you so much. Okay, Veronica, is there anything…I just feel like throwing out this last question. Is there any thought that you want to leave us with? Anything that you just want to say, to share at the end for us?

Veronica Lupinacci (49:31):
Yes. I would like you guys to know that there is a dog named Negritta. She is a dog of the Pamplemousse variety. Now, have you guys ever had LaCroix, the fizzy water? Well, the Pamplemousse, we looked at it one day and we were like…if you could see this dog prance, she has a high pompom tail, black with long fur and a shaggy…it almost looks like she’s wearing pants when she walks and they sway. So, we decided that she looked like a pamplemousse. So, all I want to tell you guys is that she’s been sitting on my lap, staring at me the entire time we’ve been talking and she was just begging for some kind of recognition. She is the sweetest girl in the world and Mr. Benny is over there under the desk. So yeah, that’s all. That’s what I had to share with you guys is that dogs are lovely and you should kiss them and be kind to them and have more of them in your home.

Elena L. Perez (50:34):
Oh my gosh. I love that. [laughs]

Mathew Maichen (50:36):
Thank you so much. I love that we ended on that. Alright.

Elena L. Perez (50:39):
I wish we could show the podcast audience how cute…

Veronica Lupinacci (50:40):

Mathew Maichen (50:47):
All right, I think that that’s all. Thank you so much for being here with us, Veronica. This has been a great interview.

Veronica Lupinacci (50:56):
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. It was really nice to meet you guys and get to know you a little bit and thank you again for having me.

Elena L. Perez (51:03):
Thanks so much.

Melissa Reynolds (51:04):
Thank you.

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