With over a hundred published poems under her belt, author Nolcha Fox has cultivated her signature style of wit and inventiveness. Inspired by Dr. Seuss' fantastical worlds, this poet demonstrates that the joy of life doesn't stop even after retirement. The Big Unda: Memories and Imaginations, Fox's latest collection is an enjoyable read for all.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.
I literally started writing before I was a toddler. My favorite medium was poop. When I could stand and grab a crayon, I wrote on walls and in book margins. I even tried to write on my face with my mother’s red lipstick, and managed to color my hair, too.
In school, my secret passion was writing. I had journals full of poetry and thoughts and rants. But, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to be a creative and pay the rent.
After years of locking the writing bug in a closet and wandering through the job universe, I fell into technical writing (I still have the bruises). The money was decent, but after 8+ hours a day staring at a computer screen, my muse only wanted to go to bed. To say I authored software manuals was only glorious to my mother.
It took retirement and a move from big city to small town life to knock me into creative writing and publishing. I first focused on short stories. To my delight, my first publication was a horror story. All my published short stories after that were some combination of horror, fantasy, and dark humor. I wrote one love story on a whim, and it was picked up immediately and published on Valentine’s Day. I must not have been feeling very good the day I wrote it.
I wanted to publish a short story anthology, but every publisher I spoke to said I had to publish at least one novel before they would consider an anthology. I attempted a novel, and hated every moment I wrote. That, and increased migraines ended any writing at all for over a year.
Once I managed to control the migraines, I allowed a dear friend and poet to encourage me to write poetry. My brain was too soggy while recovering from migraine medication to write for more than 10 minutes at a time, so I agreed to try. At age 67, I published my first poem. I’m almost 68, with over 100 published poems and 2 published books on Amazon. Another is due to be published within the next month.
How would you describe the theme(s) in The Big Unda?
I used childhood memories (and memories before I could remember, like the story of my parents driving in front of a hurricane to get out of North Carolina when I was a baby), and everyday events soaked in quirky humor and a large dose of imagination. Some of my friends are concerned about my sanity.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?
That is a great question! I can say that my poetry has subtly changed since I started writing. My first poems were more tiny stories. Now my poetry is much shorter and funnier, a snapshot of a situation.
What poetry is not for me is writing to poetic forms (other than free verse). I’m so miserable writing to a form, I even wrote a poem about it (recently published on Medusa’s Kitchen, thank you Kathy!)
Murder for Hire
I hired free verse
to kill every poetic form
within a stanza's radius.
The judge didn't care
I was strangled by rules.
He sentenced me to
death by sonnet.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Definitely Dr. Seuss books and the “Alice in Wonderland” poems have influenced the humor and fantasy of my poetry. I also have to thank John Yamrus, whose minimalist style has rubbed off on some of my poems.
You've published several short stories as well as poetry. In your opinion, what important ways does poetry differ from fiction?
I love that poetry allows me to jumble unexpected images, to make people see the ordinary in a different way, to capture a moment in time. If I were to write another short story now (and I’m not counting the 10-word flash fiction that I recently wrote), the story would be much lusher in atmosphere and visuals.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
I am collaborating with a writer in England who blogs and writes fiction. We are working off each other’s unfinished works to create something entirely new.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success is developing relationships with editors who like my poems, and who ask me to submit (that’s started to happen). It’s people on Facebook and Twitter who comment on my poems. It’s other writers asking me to review or edit their work. Mostly, it’s having fun writing and making people laugh.
How can readers keep in touch with you?