ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Adrienne. This past spring, ABP had the privilege of publishing Caryatid Heart. What can you tell us about this collection? How was the writing process? What are your thoughts on the collection now that it is in print?
AR- Thank you so much for asking! Writing and publishing Caryatid Heart actually took me completely by surprise. I didn’t set out with the intention to create a book of poetry until long after many of the poems inside had already been written. I used to consider myself a prose writer only. My ultimate goal in life has always been to publish scifi and fantasy novels. I think that has to do with what I grew up reading. It was what I knew, so it’s what I imitated in my early writing. I didn’t start writing poetry until college, when it was a required part of my creative writing major. That first poetry workshop forced me to share work even when I wasn’t entirely confident in it. I can’t express enough how valuable that was for all of my art, and my life in general!
My poetic voice was developed mostly in a documentary poetics class. I think that a lot of my poetry blends into hybrid forms, and draws on not only my own life but also research and aspects of creative nonfiction. I see this in Caryatid Heart. I also see themes that appear over and over in my writing: the ocean, first and foremost. Then family, history, love, and earth.
Caryatid Heart comes from all of those things, and it came more easily than I could have ever expected. It’s a nice reminder that not every work of art has to be hard-won. We have this mental ideal of the starving artist who gives everything for their craft, or the lonely genius who sits alone in order to create work. Small press publishing and the community around it has been a revelation for me. I aspire to be an artist who enjoys the process of creation, and gets to enjoy life even as I work. I’m so happy to have become a multigenre writer, and this book is proof to myself that I’m capable of creating across different forms. I’m capable of surprising myself and my readers.
As my mom said to me upon ordering her copy, “I always knew I’d be reading one of your books one day, I just never imagined it would be a book of poetry!”
ABP- Do you have any work-in-progress now? If so, what are you working on?
AR- I do! I’m currently publishing a serialized fiction novel on the Stori app. I’m in the process of drafting a future novel as well. Beyond that, I’m always creating new poems, short stories, and hybrid works! Whenever they get published, I link them to my website: https://adriennerozells.wixsite.com/authorsite.
ABP- Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?
AR- Oh man, this is such a hard question! Though my tastes and favorites change as I do, the stuff I grew up loving will consistently make my heart happy, and that’s fantastical YA fiction. My go-to comfort novels are anything from the Artemis Fowl series, or Percy Jackson. I’ve read nearly every book by Meg Cabot. I recently read His Dark Materials for the first time and absolutely adored every book! One of my favorite poetry collections is Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral. My current favorite poet is Chen Chen. And my favorite creative nonfiction is definitely Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
ABP- I found this gem on Twitter. As a heavily-tattooed individual, I enjoyed very much. Do you have any other poems that you would like to share with us here?
AR- Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I’ve been so excited about my first tattoo, I couldn’t help writing about it as an excuse to post as many pictures of it as possible.
As far as poems to share, I recently released a mini-zine (just four poems) digitally through Black Stone/White Stone. These pieces are documentary poems, a lot like the ones in Caryatid Heart, and they’re very dear to me. The zine can be found at this link: https://blackstoneonawhitestone.wordpress.com/past-issues/adrienne-rozells/.
I would also love to share a few short pieces I wrote during National Poetry Writing Month! In order, they were written to the prompts “carapace,” “oasis,” and “gossamer.”
ABP- I can also see that you are Editor-in-Chief of Catchwater Magazine. What can you tell us about that publication?
AR- Catchwater was created during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. I graduated from Oberlin College in the Spring of 2020, which meant that we didn’t get an in-person graduation, and I completed my last semester of classes virtually. Even after class ended, the students from my Creative Writing capstone seminar kept meeting at our usual time, just to keep in touch, and keep some writing in our lives. My classmate Miranda Purcell mentioned that she’d been considering starting a lit mag, and although I didn’t really know much about the indie publishing scene at the time, I was excited by the idea of a collaborative creative project during such an isolating time.
While we were trying to figure out a cool name for the journal, I stumbled upon the term “catchwater.” It refers to a manmade device that collects rainwater and runoff, and channels it into reservoirs for later use by humans. I thought this was a super fun idea, because our goal was to create a magazine that could house art of all kinds, and make it accessible to people everywhere! Creative community and the sharing of art gets us all through hard times. It’s how Catchwater began, and what it continues to represent.
We launched Catchwater as co-EICs, along with my friend Emma Halpern, our Arts Editor and Website Manager. Since then we’ve published 3 issues featuring work from 12 countries and 16 US states. We’re currently working on putting together Issue Four: Re/Birth.
ABP- What Is the art/lit scene like in Cleveland these days?
AR- Cleveland is filled with amazing art! I think that a lot of people underestimate this city, but we have a vibrant literary and artistic world in Ohio. So much of Cleveland is decorated with beautiful murals and quotes, which is a favorite art form of mine. The Cleveland Museum of Art is free to visit and houses the second-largest collection of artworks in any US museum, just after the MOMA! There are regular music, comedy shows, art shows, and readings. A lot of wonderful authors come through to speak at local colleges like Cleveland State or Case Western.
I’ve been able to find a wonderful writing community through my work as a teacher with Lake Eerie Ink, a nonprofit dedicated to providing writing programs for Cleveland youth. There’s also Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit dedicated to writers of all ages.
ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview, Adrienne. If there is anything that we did not cover which you like to mention , feel free to do so.
AR- Thank you so much for interviewing me! I’m honored and excited to have Caryatid Heart out with Alien Buddha Press, and am so happy to get to share a little more about myself and my process.