March 31, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Redefining Universal Languages

Name: Joe LiVolsi
Major(s): Mechanical engineering/German language & literature
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009)

First of all, congratulations on getting published! Have you been published previous to “House of Hosts”?

Thanks! I was "published" once, but it turned out to be a scam...if you ever get an offer from Elder & Leemauer Publishers, or something, don't take it. Essentially, then, no: I haven't been published.

Talking about the actual piece, we were quite impressed with the consistency of the rhyme, meter, and overall entertainment of “House of Hosts.” You mentioned something about the inspiration for it at the Fall launch - can you share this origin of creativity once more?

Thanks for that, as well. I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out, myself. The driving force behind writing a poem of that length and with that focus was John Mansfield's "The Hounds of Hell," which is a nineteen-page piece (at least, in the format I've seen). The rhyme and meter of that one is relatively simple, though; mine was a product more of happenstance: the rhyme needed to be like that for there to be a rhyme, and the meter fell together in a pattern that was made necessary by a mistake. Once it was set, though, it was reasonably easy to keep up (although material was sometimes troublesome).

How were your experiences with The Independent Scribe, both in submitting and reading at the Fall launch?
Oh, it was great fun; both reading, and submitting. I enjoyed working closely with the editorial board, and they were very enthusiastic and accommodating. Reading at the Fall Launch was very enjoyable. I've never showcased anything I've written before, and it was a great experience.

Aside from your inspiration for writing this piece, are there any other writers or genres that you feel are worth mentioning as influences on your writing?

James Russell Lowell, hands down. He didn't inspire anything about this poem in particular (I don't think), but he has inspired others, and a portion of his "The Present Crisis" was the first poem I memorized of my own free will. That piece in its entirety is an absolute monster, but the rhyme and meter are amazing. More than that, my only muses are jealousy of someone else's poem, my girlfriend, or maybe something in nature.

This piece was a part of very unique makeup of the Fall issue of The Independent Scribe. This variety was not only limited to the style pieces, but also to the writers and their backgrounds/majors. So I have to ask, what’s more fun, being a poet or an engineer?
At this point, being an engineer is anything but fun. I expect the payoff to make all the pain worth it, though. I enjoy building things--always have--and the engineering path is the one that's going to get me where I want to be. That, and it pays well.

As hard it is to look at a piece other than your own work in this publication, how do you feel The Independent Scribe as a whole turned out, and if you can, can you name some other pieces that you personally enjoyed?
To be perfectly honest, I haven't had much chance to look at the book since I got it, last semester: senior year's tough on an engineer. I really enjoyed the essay/short story by one contributor about her time in Spain: I spent six months in Germany, myself, and I was able to identify with a lot of what she said. There was also a piece about a robot, and I think it had something to do with a bluebird, but memory fails offense is meant to the author, of course.

[ed. note - the essay and poem in question are Katherine McAllister's "Grenada" and Dylan Thompson's "Madrigal," respectively]

As it happens, this is your last semester as a senior. What are your plans after college, and how much of them are related to writing?

Writing has always been a hobby, nothing more, and I have a solid job lined up after I graduate that deals specifically with engineering. Although I feel compelled to say that writing is an integral part of any and every facet of real life, and nobody--in any major--should make the mistake of underestimating the expression of language--in any way--just because his scholarly focus is something more scientific. Math and music may be the universal languages, but if you can't read, write, or speak English properly, you won't go far.

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