Interview with Author Israfel Sivad (December 2018)

1)      For any newcomers to my blog, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, the truth is I’ve pretty much always written. After my parents split up when I was in fifth grade, I started writing myself to sleep at night. I did that all through middle school. I wrote lyrics based on all the song structures in the liner notes to the heavy metal tapes I owned. In high school, I turned that talent into an opportunity to write lyrics for the punk rock bands I played in. I wound up collecting many of those lyrics in my book Soundtrack for the New Millennium. Then, when I went away to college, I started keeping journals, and eventually those journals evolved into stories, novels and poems.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

We Are the Underground initially started as a project for a writing group I joined when I left New York City in 2012 to move back down to Richmond, VA for a little while. I met a group of guys and girls at a café, and they started giving me writing prompts. Eventually, after I had already written a handful of random poems, I decided I wanted a theme running through the work as a whole. The poems so far had been very personal to me. So, I decided to incorporate my childhood spirituality into the work. Having grown up in Southern California, that wasn’t quite the same as many of my peers. It was based on the mysticism and philosophies my grandmother studied. She called herself The White Witch. Those poems eventually turned into the “Zodiac Cycle,” and that determined the structure for the rest of the book.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I really hope readers will be inspired by We Are the Underground to create for themselves, whether that be artistically, spiritually or simply in their day-to-day lives. In addition to that, I’d love for readers to go deep with these poems and find their own meanings in them. I believe I’ve left a lot of room open for interpretation with this book. I hope people will explore all those meanings.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I started writing these poems as a break from another project I was working on (the novel you reviewed earlier, Anthony, The Adversary’s Good News). The poems were able to be jotted down quickly and then revised and modified slowly over time. That allowed me to feel like I was making progress when my novel was progressing so slowly. After finishing the novel, I kept working on the poems as breaks from a handful of other, larger projects I’d started.

5)      What major differences (other than genre) did you notice when writing this book as opposed to The Adversary’s Good News? Would you say it was more difficult or easier to write this book?

Writing The Adversary’s Good News was harder than this book. The Adversary’s Good News took me nearly ten years to complete. It was a massive undertaking. The plotting and wordsmithing was unbelievable. However, We Are the Underground surprisingly required a great deal more research, particularly for the Zodiac Cycle. The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by books I’d already read. Whereas, with We Are the Underground,I spent a lot of time researching astrology for the poems themselves as well as poetic structures so that I could vary the styles and tones of each poem while simultaneously finding forms fitting each one’s content.

6)      Since we last spoke, what social media site has grown to help you connect with readers the most?

Instagram has been garnering a lot of my social media attention. I find it to be a great medium for reaching readers and interacting with the world in general.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or poets out there, or to anyone looking to expand and explore the poetry genre as a whole?

First, to aspiring authors and poets: Believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Nobody else can determine if you’re a writer. Only you know that. Don’t believe in artistic “gatekeepers.” Nobody else can tell you whether you’ve succeeded in accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As far as expanding and exploring the genre of poetry, I urge everybody to read everything from yesterday’s classics to today’s big press and self-published authors. Read everything from Instagram poets to The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while you’re doing all that, keep exploring what this world makes you think and feel. Write it down. Write it all down. The structures will come. You’ll discover them. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to live.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m pretty much always working on new projects. What I’m most excited about right now, though, is the first draft of a new novel I recently completed. I hope to release this project in the next year or two. It’s currently called Pomegranate Sutra, and it’s the story of how to find love when you believe you’re too damaged to ever let that emotion take hold. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s finally ready for publication.

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

Website: www.IsrafelSivad.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/israfel_sivad/

Twitter: twitter.com/UrsprungCollect

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UrsprungCollective/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ursprung-collective

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We Are the Underground by Israfel Sivad Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am happy to share that I have reunited with author Israfel Sivad to bring you an in-depth look into the passionate, creative and unique book of poetry the author has collected. Titled “We Are The Underground”, the poetry explores the intricate journey into the depths of the human spirit. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

More than a simple collection of poems, We Are the Underground delves into Israfel Sivad’s psyche to inspire you to liberate your own. With each carefully defined section, you’ll explore inner worlds and find the keys you need to unlock hidden truths. For, as Israfel Sivad demonstrates, it’s when we enter our own personal depths that we find true freedom. This poetic journey is your invitation to go deeper than you ever have before. Don’t remain content staring at what the rest of the world has already seen. Look through these inspired poems. Unravel Israfel Sivad’s “Zodiac Cycle”, which contains one poem for every astrological sign in the Western and Chinese zodiacs. Enter the underground, and discover this hidden revolution of souls.

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The Review

This was a truly moving work of art to partake in. One of my favorite poems was What Is Poetry?, which artfully dives into the concept of poetry and beauty in the world being in the eye of the beholder. What is “poetic” to one person may not be to another, and we and we alone can determine what makes for poetry. 

The truly special part of any good book of poetry is when the poems themselves allow the reader to take their own meaning from the work themselves. Poetry is the gateway to the heart of any person, and as we are all individuals, we all view works in our own way. The creativity of adding the zodiac cycle into the works was a stroke of genius, giving the book a unique feel that few others have had before it.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fantastic read. Touching on truly emotional aspects of every person’s life and exploring the concept of growing up, individuality and making your own mark on the world, author Israfel Sivad has done a fantastic job creating a one of a kind poetic experience. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of We Are The Underground today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

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Interview with Author/Poet Lamar Neal

I can’t remember what exactly motivated me to put pen to paper but I do remember it being a coping mechanism. I wrote down my thoughts and how I was feeling and I would tear it up. It became my way of letting go.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is me making tv shows with all of my toys. I would have legit tv shows with commercials and everything. I guess my first formal introduction to writing was me at 12/13. I can’t remember what exactly motivated me to put pen to paper but I do remember it being a coping mechanism. I wrote down my thoughts and how I was feeling and I would tear it up. It became my way of letting go.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My mental health. I like to think that this is my therapy session. I just sat down and vented to myself about everything that bothered me. This book is very autobiographical. I wanted to tell my story in hopes that it can inspire other individuals to tell their truth.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Don’t be afraid to be imperfect, it’s natural. I would hope that we as individuals and a society understands that everything in life is a process. We have to work to keep growing. With that said, we have to have moments of introspection to address something that needs fixing. We have to be able to look in the mirror and tell ourselves, “you were wrong.” That type of self-awareness is lacking in the world-well I think it is. To get personal for a moment, therapy is like a curse word in my family. We can look past everything like adultery, drugs, alcohol, abuse, but therapy is where everyone draws the line. I hope that people can read this book and feel empowered to speak their truth-ugly or not. We cannot process as people or a society without that happening

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Music. I love music but I don’t have the talent to create my own. Songs aren’t anything but poetry over beats, In my opinion. I took the musical aspect out of it and just wrote. I love just how raw and honest you can be in a poem. You don’t have to worry about anything but saying how you feel. I love writing narratives like novels and short stories but at times it’s confining. With a poem, I’m just free.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

James Joyce. I would ask him what was that old man doing in “An Encounter.” I know he was doing something gross but I want him to tell me specifically. In that short story, he never explains what he’s doing, and the kids just reacted. So I just need to know. Besides James Joyce, I would love to sit with Gil Scott Heron. He’s not an author but he’s amazing. I don’t even want to ask him a question, I just want to hear him talk.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Instagram. Most definitely. I’d probably say 100% of my fan base came from Instagram.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write. And never stop writing. It doesn’t have to be everyday but keep writing. And forget all these rules. Write what you feel, write what you think. I remember when I first started writing poetry, I was trying too hard to follow all these rules and textbook examples of what poetry should look and sound like. Then I realized that there are no rules in art. You just express yourself and I guarantee you there would be dozens if not hundreds if not thousands of individuals who feel the same way.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I like to tell myself I’ll retire but I have a soul of creator so I’m always going to be writing in some way or another. My last two books were collections of poetry but I think I want to go back to my other love, writing novels. So before I’m 30, I might try to publish another novel.

About the Author

Author/Poet Lamar Neal

Outreach specialist by day at a community college. Writer and creative by night. Trying to balance a creative mind in the professional world without succumbing to the doubts every self published writer has. Hopeful that the world will be able to see my writing, not so I can be rich and famous but so I can have my voice heard and connect with others. 

Instagram– @theghostcharades

Twitter-@Ghostcharades

Facebook– /lamarKeonNeal

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The Poet’s Corner #1: Isolation

Bugs, crawling along my skin,
Disappearing before I can catch a glance.
Trapped, locked within a bin,
While I dream of adventures in France.

I watch the world, but it doesn’t watch back,
I sit motionless as time passes me.
The walls are closing in,
The air seems to escape my lungs.

So many things have changed,
So much, yet I remain the same.
I claw at the walls, yearning for the light,
Hoping to feel its warm embrace.

Just when the darkness seems to consume me,
A warm hand grips me.
My eyes adjust, and I stare into true beauty,
And feeling loves embrace, I am free.