Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"The Next Big Thing": Self-Interview with Poet Cristina M. R. Norcross for Her Upcoming Poetry Book, The Lava Storyteller

“THE NEXT BIG THING” asks writers to self-interview about their books with 7-8 designated questions, post somewhere in the blog-o-sphere and then “tag” (3-5) writers for the next week to do the same.  Cristina M. R. Norcross ( has been tagged by Mary Jo Balistreri (
What is the working title of your book?
The Lava Storyteller

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was asked to consider writing a chapbook with the theme of what it means to have a love of the earth from the female energy perspective.  I translated this idea into not just having a love of the earth, but of life itself.  To be fully alive (to me) means to savor and enjoy every experience and to be thankful for this gift.  When I looked at my files of hundreds of poems, I saw a pattern emerge and realized that the book was already written, hiding in my continuum of life-charged poetry.  The first poem that came to mind was, “The Lava Storyteller” (first published in Verse Wisconsin on-line, as a written poem and an audio file).  This became the title of the book.  My grandmother was born on the island of Saba, an island in the Caribbean, which at one time was an active volcano.  Saba has many stories to tell.  My family from this island comes from a rich history of loving and appreciating the earth.  I wanted to celebrate this spirit.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
 movie rendition?

My collection of poems has many speakers, so this might be a tough choice.  It would need to be a woman of magic and passion – a woman who rejoices in the sights, smells, tastes and upheavals of life.  The narrator/actress for most of the poems wouldn’t necessarily have to be from the West Indies, but she would need to have an affinity for island life and have a passion for the ocean.  (With a wink) I welcome scripts and actor resumes.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

These poems represent my barefoot rootedness to lake sand, farmers’ fields, rugged hills, jagged mountains and the undulating rhythm of ocean waves on beaches. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Without knowing that these poems would be gathered together for a book, most of them were written over the course of two years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

On childhood trips to the island of Saba, I sat at the kitchen table and watched the women of the village come together for a circle of conversation and sewing Saba lace, an old art form.  Laughter came in bursts.  I felt as though I was witnessing a sacred ritual, but also engaging in a coming together that celebrated life itself.  Not all of the poems are about Saba, but I chose only poems which I thought reflected that spirit of passion – of joining together with other women to experience the sheer delight in being alive. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This chapbook is truly going to be a work of art, not just because I consider poetry to be art, but also because each copy of this limited edition print run will be hand sewn.  Each cover will be printed using a hand-carved wooden block, created by the publisher of Red Mare Press, Su Zi, who is also a visual artist.  It will be an artistic experience from beginning to end.  I can’t wait to feel the paper!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Lava Storyteller will be published in June 2013 by Red Mare Press in Florida, as part of the Red Mare Chapbook series.

Find Red Mare on Facebook:

At Big Bridge:

And also at Thread Bare Art:

The Lava Storyteller

Island of clay, sand and earth –
liquid lava now silent.
You are the land of trees dripping mangoes
and goats clinging to cliffs.

Bare feet read braille –
ancient explosions –
black crumbs and dust from when earth
was the only inhabitant.

Island of Saba –
the earth speaks of ancestors –
still humming the old stories –
still laughing over a bottle of sweet Malta.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2011

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