Allene Nichols

“What I love about Allene is the way she romanticizes the visceral aspects of the writing process. There’s nothing naive about it; she isn’t trying to cover up some ugly truth or make the bland palatable. Rather, she’s clearing the fog so we can see just how miraculous it is that we not only endure the grueling dance with muses, but come out of it with gorgeous creations that twirl on their own.” — Jaime Dill, editor for Cardigan Press

What genre/age ranges do you typically write for?

I don’t gravitate toward genres so much as I bounce off of them. I like to experiment and try new approaches. I’ve been writing longer works lately. I used to write plays, and for a while I tried writing verse plays. Lately, I’ve turned that practice around and started writing poems that create a narrative. I’ve written a series of poems as letters between Lady Macbeth and Arthur’s Guinevere. I’m working on a series of poems that go back and forth between Dorothy and Auntie Em from The Wizard of Oz. Both of these groups of poems address the relationships between women, and I’ve also written a series of poems about my mother’s and my relationship and the role that her abuse played in it.

Another genre I’ve been experimenting with is mixed media. I’ve created a travelogue about a trip my son and I took to hike Hadrian’s Wall and visit Scotland. It mixes poetry, my journal entries, photos, maps, and narrative to talk about our journey through life and how we must let go of the people we love in order to keep them close. A simpler collection of mine is a book of poems I’ve created with photos on the theme of shadows and reflections. I’m fascinated with how shadows hide in reflections and how reflections have a life of their own beyond the things that they reflect.

In terms of individual poems, my taste is eclectic. I have written a number of political poems, some ars poetic, some ekphrastic poetry, and queer poetry. Humor is an element of a lot of my poems, and I dabble in formal poetry. I brought humor and form together in my poem “Snot Sonnet.” It has been a lifetime ambition to write a serious poem with the word “snot” in it. So far, I’m still trying.

How would you say your poem in Byline Legacies compares with your usual writing?

“After Writer’s Block” would fall under ars poetica. Like my similar poems, I tried to give it the urgency that I feel when I suddenly have no choice but to write. Sometimes, the ideas come so quickly that I have to get them down before they fade away. Other poems that I’ve written in this vein focus on the impact on the reader (“Let my chainsaw script strip / your redwood skin until you bleed seedlings”), on the strangeness of being in the grip of the need to write, and even on how parts of speech are like foods at a feast.

How can readers best support you in the mean time?

Visit my blog and let me know what about my writing interests and excites you. I’m in the process of adding brief descriptions and excerpts of my projects in the hope of finding publishers. As a college professor (my day job), I am as passionate about teaching as I am about writing, so I’m always looking for opportunities to give workshops and presentations.

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"All the features in Byline Legacies speak to a specific aspect of the writer’s life. But Valerie’s poem, “Elegy for the Poems I Almost Wrote”, hit me sharply because it not only calls the bluff of ev