21 May 2009

interview: abigail beaudelle

An Interview With A Poetic Warrior

Abigail Beaudelle is the publisher/editor of The Poetry Warrior, a newcomer to the on-line literature scene. Currently they have made it to Issue Three and show no signs of slowing down. By getting three issues up and out has surpassed more than a few outlets that barely last one issue being posted. The quality of selection and work is outstanding, featuring both familiar and new voices. At first glance there are plenty of reasons to interview Abigail Beaudelle, but the most interesting one is her age. Abigail is all of 16, maybe 17 now.

Here’s some info from her bio I stole from Eviscerator Heaven

Abigail Beaudelle, 16, has been writing poetry for two years now, and is slowly beginning to gain recognition in the small press world. Her work has been published in the 56th issue of Gloom Cupboard and will be included in the upcoming issues of Off Beat Pulp, Kill Poet, Clockwise Cat, and Fissure. A member of Mensa, Abigail spends the majority of her time fencing, playing guitar, and working on her ezine, The Poetry Warrior (www.thepoetrywarrior.com). The debut issue was published on October 1st, 2008.

If you haven’t heard of Mensa, it is a high honor. Sure, I could mock it, make fun, joke to hide my own jealousy, but it is a big deal, one worthy of respect. It means you’re smart and it has been proven, either by test results or some other method.

I got to know Abigail via the Internet, both Facebook and MySpace. Before you sick bastards start snipping about anything untoward, I had the fortune of being in The Poetry Warrior. Over the months we traded notes and ideas about having an Internet journal. When my idea about NEW MEDIA formu-lated, the idea of having someone with a journal, is a writer, and has lived their entire life in the shadow of the Internet became obvious. Abigail fit the bill.


Jack Henry: Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. As I have mentioned, I am investigating NEW MEDIA LITERATURE, the current state of writing in general, and the state of poetry, specifically. Being one of the youngest editors of an on-line journal as well as raised and schooled in an Internet age, I thought her opinions might add to my query.

Okay, so why start a poetry magazine?

Abigail Beaudelle: Do you want the dirty truth, or the flattering lie? The truth of the matter is I started The Poetry Warrior because I knew I COULD. It was mostly my idea of a ‘gimmick’ to jump-start my own writing career. The truth is some of the most successful (and most famous) artists and writers were excellent at marketing.
And not just their work - it’s all about personality too. You think Andy Warhol would have been as influential without his contrived persona and wacky processes of creation?

The thing is, it’s nothing (these days) to be published at 17. But how many 17-yr-olds can say they’re a publisher? TPW started off as a highly narcissistic venture, I will admit to that, but it’s grown to mean so much more to me on a personal level. For one, it’s the most successful and honestly the FIRST successful thing I’ve done. And secondly, I’ve met so many fantastic poets through TPW that I am have been honored to publish. TPW shot up so much faster than I ever could have imagined.

That, and it’s served its initial purpose ten-fold: Hence, this interview.

It’s refreshing to see honesty and I can relate since I started my journal for the same reason. But how rare is it to realize that self-promotion is integral to a writer’s career. Too many writer’s overlook that.

JH: Would The Poetry Warrior exist without the Internet?

AB: As much as I’d love to be able to say it would, it honestly wouldn’t. I am totally a child of the Inter-net age. I can’t see myself stapling together even fifty copier-paper pamphlets together, let alone having to go manually distribute them (you mean I have to talk to real people?!). Even if I did {do it all myself} what then? Do you know how hard it is to even GIVE away literature? I don’t need that kind of blow to my ego.

The truth is, TPW just would not be without the internet, I’ve only had ONE submission from anyone in my state, let alone my hometown. TPW is truly an international affair.

JH: In your opinion, what is the current state of Literature? Regarding poetry, do you think there’s been a renaissance, or rebirth?

AB: I wouldn’t say that we’re going through a renaissance, really, but yeah, we’re entering another social-political-artistic-poetical movement, for sure. Art is influenced by society, and vice versa. Well, NOW, society is changing, big time. We can think of art history as a sort of timeline, with artistic movements progressing in a cause-and-effect type fashion. But with the advent of the internet, that whole paradigm has changed.

It was initially thought that MAYBE only a couple hundred people would ever be using the Internet. And then, only when necessary. Now, with millions of people sending information constantly and nearly instantaneously from everywhere on earth, societies and cultures are being dissolved and re-formed. A kid my age is more likely to identify with a disparate Internet peer group than with members of their own immediate society. So societies are influenced by a colossal influx of information that was not readily available five years ago.

Take fads for example. Fads used to last decades (remember the Pet Rock?) - now they last for weeks, if that. Vids and images ‘go viral’; songs bloom, get overplayed and sink once more into the churning pit that is the Internet.

All of this affects art, and artists and poets are now being influenced by several periods of art all at once; language is changing, worldview's are expanding, vernacular is resetting - all at an alarming rate. The real question is not if we’re in a renaissance, but what is it that we’re going to call this cultural movement. ‘Post-post-post-modernism’ sounds pretty idiotic to me. I think we screwed that one up pretty bad.

This is another one of those questions that has had a different response from almost eve-ryone that has responded. The state of literature as well as the concept of a “new renaissance” is highly subjective. The point Abigail brings up is extremely interesting and something I will have to look into further.

With the quadratic expansion of the Internet, increasing speed of exchange, and the global reach of information exchange, writers today (as well as the plugged in populace as a whole) are faced with influences at every turn. Abigail makes a solid point: “…artists and poets are now being influenced by several periods of art all at once.”

And it’s going to get faster.

JH: We chatted once about how easy it is to set up a website for an on-line journal (no, I still haven’t resolved the Heroin Love Song website issues). With the availability of quick, simple, and inexpensive blog sites and/or webpages, could the quality of work get diluted? Is there too much product, or is there room for more?

AB: I don’t think the quality of work will get diluted. Sure, it’s easy to start an online magazine, but keeping it up is a whole different matter. If the poetry’s no good (assuming your readership knows and enjoys good poetry), the readership disappears. If you don’t know how to market your zine, or don’t know who to go to, your readership won’t exist in the first place. The competition is tough on the interwebz, to edit an online magazine you’ve got to be a bit of an ‘internet renaissance man’. You’ve got to be a little bit of a graphic designer, a tech-support guy, a PR guy. You’ve got to be passionate about poetry. ‘Cause believe me – if you’re not, it’s a losing proposition. It’s expensive, it’s exhausting, and God can it ever be frustrating. It’s rewarding too, though, if you love poetry.

JH: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced with the magazine?

AB: Deadlines. And finding the will to get up and edit some days. I suffer from bouts of chronic depres-sion (“why doesn’t anybody get me?!”), and some days the get-up-and-go just don’t wanna go. So far, I’ve managed to make every deadline though! I’m so proud of me!

Note: That’s why we’re writers. Most of us hate deadlines. Personally, I gave up on deadlines. I couldn’t keep one to save my life.

JH: What is the future of Literature, either on-line or print? Is there a future?

AB: That’s like asking if there’s a past for literature. Of course there’s a future. If the apocalypse comes and it’s just one man with a cave and a sharp rock, he’s going to write. Eventually. It’s a very human thing to want to express themselves, and even more human to want to compete about it. Ergo – future for literature. Online or in print has no bearing. It’s still about the rearranging of language.

And even though there seems to be a plethora of online magazines and blogzines these days, conversely, there’s a rather large number of those zines going in to print as well. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing. People like books.

JH: New Media platforms seem to evolve almost daily. New platforms and websites appear all the time. Do you envision a time where the consumption of literature/writing will change again? I am thinking away from the Internet to something different?

AB: Of course. Language is always adapting. In my mind, the next step is a shift in performance methods. I think the Spoken Word is going to undergo a fundamental change. With our concept of society shifting (see answer to question two) and with the advent of the internet age, our language is evolving rapidly. And a majority of these new words we’re encountering on forums and in chat rooms do not have verbal counterparts. But mark my words, they will soon. Many people dismiss acronyms such as ‘lol’ and ‘stfu’ (which originated from the phrases ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘shut the fuck up’) are just marks of unintelligent, illiterate laziness, but take this example:

A month or so I was playing a game on a popular international gaming website, and I noticed that the players conversing in the chat applet below my game were all speaking in French. No big deal, right? Well it piqued my curiosity to see them all using the term ‘Lol’, an originally English acronym in their chat. This has led me to believe that maybe these acronyms and slang neologisms are the first step in the formation of a larger, multicultural internet language. Whether or not we like the turn our language is taking, we’ve got to understand that our language IS evolving, at a very rapid pace. So our challenge as poets and performers NOW is to learn the rules to this new meta-language and add it to our own poetic toolsets, rather than neglect this opportunity to influence its evolution.

I found this response outstanding. It made me consider something unexpected. Could the utilization of NEW MEDIA change the form of expression, the very language we use? The thought of acronyms commonly found via text messaging become a ubiquitous global sign is interesting. Some have suggested that within a few hundred years (if not less) the globe will utilize a single language. In my opinion it will be a hybrid of many languages. But what if it is something even more evolved than spoken language. What I am saying is it might be possible humanity evolves to a point where there is no speech, only texting. I know with my 19-year-old step daughter, that’s the only way we communicate. Not that I mind, but it is odd to get a text from her when she is 10 feet down the hall.

JH: Recently a writing movement called “The Brutalists” has evolved in the UK. This group of writers are united in a desire to bring their work to the consumer, doing it themselves if they have and avoiding the quicksand of the bigger publishing houses. In your opinion, do movements or so-called “schools” of writing bring value to the body of literature?

AB: Depends if the work’s any good.

I had no idea what to expect with the questions I asked Abigail. Without question they add to the discourse I am pursuing, but they also demand greater introspection. Because she has lived a life that did not know a moment without the Internet, she can actually “see” the speed of change. It didn’t take this conversation to make me feel older, but it added a few gray hairs.

JH: Okay, enough of that. I want to promote The Poetry Warrior a bit.

What plans do you have for your journal?

AB: Plans? What plans? I’m just kidding. I have a few plans. First – assemble my super-awesome-mega-robo-happy-funtime editorial team for next issue.

Secondly, MERCHANDISE! I want to be able to guide The Poetry Warrior into self-sufficiency, and ultimately be able to pay my submitters and turn a little bit of a profit. Don’t you think TPW logo would look flash on a t-shirt? I’ve got some very innovative ideas though, so be on the lookout for new site content and items.

JH: Is there another level you aspire to? Different formats for the magazine?

AB: Not necessarily. I mean, it would be nice to have the option of going into print, but it’s really not a financially feasible idea right now. I intend to find a way to print chapbooks through the Poetry War-rior name, however, and I have my awesome tech guy Dylan working out the intricacies of PDFs.

JH: I have heard you talk about a community of writers that can exist around a Journal. Is it important to expand the breadth of writers for a magazine or can a magazine still thrive with the same “faces” month to month?

AB: In theory, sure, a magazine can still thrive so long as the quality of work is maintained. Granted, it’s like the Starbucks phenomenon. Once you build a name for yourself, it’s easy to get complacent. Starbucks used to make an excellent cup of coffee, now it’s just bitter.


It is exciting to see someone so young so focused, even if only for a single project. The experience of running a press will be a great one. And if she keeps her shit together, who knows? All the great ones started small. In my opinion, Abigail Beaudelle, and The Poetry Warrior, is one to watch.


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