It was during an experimental writing class that I fell in love with Gertrude Stein. ‘A Pound of History: after Gertrude Stein’, as the name suggests, pays homage to Stein and, in particular, to her prose poem Tender Buttons.
2. Tell us about your process. (Do you start sparse and widen out, or do you write down every possible association and cut back? Do you research the subject matter you are writing about? Is it pure intuition?) Take us through an example if you want.
I was using association and dissociation exercises at the time of writing this piece. I’ve found these exercises helpful in producing unusual and unexpected images. As for the subject matter, in this case, intuition trumped research. Through the adoption and acquiescence of Stein’s stylistic expression and rhythm, I was able to write with unusual ease and creativity. By copying her approach to grammar and syntax I acquired new techniques in phrasing and sequencing, and experimented with short sentences. I enjoy experimenting with short sentences. Short sentences must be carefully placed together to convey meaning and paint emotion, like pieces of a puzzle. Putting together the puzzle pieces was an amusing process.
3. What advice do you have for other writers? (About the first or last line? About how to choose the title? Do you follow any rules?)
My advice for other writers: please, feel free to forward me your advice. I guess I do adhere to one rule: I choose words for the title, the first or last line, that sound right. I often spend a great deal of time exchanging words, with similar meanings, until the words right sound.
4. Who or what inspires your writing?
My writing is inspired by anything or anybody who shines.
5. Tell us what you do if you haven’t written anything in a while and you want to get started writing again? Could you share your favourite writing exercise with our readers?
If I’m looking for inspiration I read. Reading inspires me to write. I find imitation a good way to start writing again. Also, I scribble down words and phrases that look and sound good when placed together, paying close attention to how sound can influence meaning.
Based in Bangalow, Stevi-Lee Alver spends her time surfing, spotting clouds, playing pool, watching waves, studying at Southern Cross University, and nursing at the North Coast Cancer Institute. She is currently on exchange at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
You can hear recording of Stevie-Lee reading ‘A Pound of History: after Gertrude Stein’ here.