Amanda Earl is a powerhouse of Encouragement and of Getting Things Done, through her many arms of publishing including AngelHouse, DevilHouse, Bywords, National Poetry Month, and through individual mentoring and her own writing. She was inducted into the VerseFest Hall of Honour in 2014. She has a flutterbook done by pahfours and was in Air In/Air Out. Read on for leads and links.
PP: What have you read lately that lit you up? why or how?
AE: Bright Spots and Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me by Adam Brown (The diaTribe Foundation; 1st edition, 2017)
I was diagnosed with diabetes at the end of March. I was overwhelmed and disheartened by the diagnosis, so I began researching, of course. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I happened upon this book during one of my frantic searches for meal possibilities. Brown runs a site called diaTribe.org which has useful advice and recipes, including 50 Shades of Chia Seed Pudding. Chia seed pudding is a miracle food. It has been around long before the chia pet from the 1970s. It is a grain that was cultivated by the Aztecs. It’s delicious, high in fibre and helps to lower blood sugar levels. As long as I don’t overdo the portion size, my colon-less bowels can handle it. This recipe linked to Bright Spots and Landmines, which is based on Brown’s experiences as a diabetic. The book is positive, practical, and informative, exactly what I needed as a newly diagnosed diabetic and still helpful as the journey continues.
PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?
AE: Managing my diabetes through changes in diet and exercise. I’m writing a poem series about diabetes. As a writer, I am forever curious and need to understand the history, etymology, science and culture in about just about everything I get involved in, I can’t help looking things up in order to learn. My brain doesn’t seem to be built for science, even though I’m fascinated by it, so I’ve been trying to learn more and understand the underpinnings of diabetes, the connection between blood sugar levels to food, exercise and sleep. This leads me down a rabbit hole of wonder and it excites me. I might as well write about it.
A few days after the diagnosis, I began a blog: the Sexy Diabetic and from there I ended up starting to write poems. I have always written as a form of catharsis, connection, whimsy and exploration. Life and literary pursuits are usually not separate for me.
Paying contributors to AngelHousePress. Getting a new initiative online – the Caring Imagination: a site that will empower those who create, produce and disseminate art to do so with compassion, if they want to. In 2022, I launched our first crowd funding campaign through IndieGoGo, inviting small presses from around the world to contribute publications to offer to supporters of the campaign as perks. It was a hugely successful campaign and is allowing me to pay contributors to NationalPoetryMonth.ca and Experiment-O this year. I’m grateful to all who supported the campaign and by doing so, demonstrated their support of community and caring practice in art. I am baffled by the swaggering smug colonialist of the patriarchy with regard to creating and publishing. I continue to work toward dismantling the patriarchy and amplifying the voices of those who continue to be systematically excluded from canons. That is the most important work any of us can be doing in the literary community today, in my opinion.
PP: Excellent. We definitely need those efforts. What is underway with you, or forthcoming?
My own writing
- Trouble, a long poem about a lust affair will be out as a pamphlet by new UK publisher, Hem Press in Autumn 2022. I read an early version of the poem as a feature at an In/Words reading back in 2013, which shows how long some works take to come to fruition.
- Genesis will be coming out with Timglaset Editions of Sweden sometime this year. This is the first book of the Bible and consequently the first book of the Vispo Bible, which I began in 2015 as a life’s work to translate every book, chapter and verse of the Bible. The Vispo Bible has received support from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).
- A video of PURPLE, a long poem about suicide inspired by the Victorian death obsession will be launched in August, thanks to the support of the OAC and the Writers Union of Canada. I started this a year ago.
- I am going to be self-publishing Beast Body Epic through AngelHousePress in Autumn 2023 when I reach my 60th year and my 14th after my husband was told I would die on the operating table or in ICU. BBE is a series of long poems that address my near-death health crisis of 2009. It’s been edited by at least three people now and revamped completely since I first read part of it to VERSeFest when I was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour in 2014. BBE received City and OAC funding.
- Fear of Elevators, a chapbook, will be published by Montreal’s Turret House in early 2023. I wrote this long poem in 2012 after my claustrophobia became more extreme, thanks to body memory of intubation and restraints in ICU during my health crisis. I live on the 19th floor, so I had to ride the elevator. Still do. Writing FOE was a way of working through my fear, and it helped, but reader, I’m still afraid of elevators. FOE received OAC funding.
Publication and curatorial activity through AngelHousePress and Bywords.ca
- The Caring Imagination site, to be launched later this year or early next.
- Experiment-O Issue 15 to be published in November or December, 2022.
- Monthly episodes of the Small Machine Talks, a podcast on poetry, duende, queerness, community and tea, entering its 7th season this year.
- Ongoing monthly issues of Bywords.ca (est 2003), of which I am the managing editor; the John Newlove Poetry Award in Autumn 2022.
PP: What work do you have out?
AE: I interpret this question in two ways:
1. What work do I have that is under consideration?
2. What is published and ready for darling readers to acquire?
PP: I do love your clear mind, and to hear about both.
- Another manuscript involving a key character in my poetry, Ursula, who first appeared in a limited edition self-published chapbook in 2008, and received a grant from the City of Ottawa, is under consideration or possibly not, since I just realized that I never received an acknowledgement e-mail from the publisher, so I’ve resubmitted it.
- The Seasons, an excerpt from Welcome to Upper Zygonia is currently with an American publisher, but I haven’t had word in some time, so I should probably check on it.
[sidebar – wish these were under consideration]
- I am looking for a home for Welcome to Upper Zygonia, a series of long poems, visual poems, and doodles about an imaginary world. I am grateful for funding received from the City of Ottawa for this manuscript.
- I have to do a revamp and edit of another long poem manuscript, All the Catharines, which began in 2010 and received funding from the Ontario Arts Council. I’d like to turn it into a poetic novel or a novel poem, or something like that.
[another sidebar] I mention the funding sources for my work because I believe it is important for governments to fund arts and culture and I am grateful when they do.
- My most recent poetry chapbook is the Before, an excerpt from Welcome to Upper Zygonia, published by above/ground press this year. It is my tenth chapbook with above/ground press, all of which, I believe, are still available.
- Matthew from the Vispo Bible published by Knife Fork Book in 2021 may still have a few copies.
- Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry, the anthology I edited is available as both pdf and physical book from Timglaset Editions.
- Kiki, my first and only book of poetry published so far (Chaudiere Books, 2014) is available from Invisible Publishing. Kiki also received support from the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Arts Council.
- Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl, my collection of short, smutty tales published by Coming Together, a non-profit publisher where all the proceeds go to charity, is on Amazon and can also be found via bookstores like Barnes and Noble and via distributors such as the Book Depository. If you buy one, come find me and I’ll sign it for you.
PP: Awesome range of things! Any author site or social media urls you’d like to drop?
Thanks for the interview, Pearl. I am glad you published cluster of as back in 2013 and I enjoy the work published by phafours.