Poetry Drawer: Four Poems by Dr. Susie Gharib

A Blue-Winged Thought

A blue-winged thought navigated round my fingertip,
then cast its anchor at the foot of the lethargic quill
that in my hand had stood for hours so transfixed.

The ink that in stagnant wells had congealed
began to ripple with Osirian zeal
irrigating with words my yawning sheets.

With aquamarine, azure, and Egyptian blue
my consonants and vowels were imbued,
genetic hues.


I’ve never wanted to be a politician,
a social worker, or a shrink,
a saviour in the miraculous sense,
a superwoman, a clairvoyant, or Merlin.
But my students keep on asking me:
How can we make the future a better thing?
So with my propensity to philosophize,
I answer: start with foetuses,
how they are impregnated,
because the semen of love is the foundation of a healthy citizen.
Annul social contracts that have infested marriages,
then build a mother who is devoid of prejudice.
She does not only suckle babies white fluids.
Her every pore exudes her beliefs and feelings,
to be imbibed by her infants.

Make religion an affair of the heart,
the inner light within.
Erase it from documents.
Stop segregating school-pupils
each according to inherited creeds,
to abolish sectarianism.

When hunger and pestilence stalk continents,
why spend trillions on ships to navigate galaxies!
Why enthuse the public with enmities
against potential adversaries,
the Aliens,
as if civil and international wars are not enough distraction.

They claim they have abolished racism,
discrimination at work, of gender, of skin.
I suggest they start with the family and establishments,
the nuclei of favouritism.

Prune and preen your media missions,
your visual images,
the sounds which kill from a distance,
make it a tool of pacification
and not of perennial division.

The Word-Shields

Your steps recede
into the uncharted leas,
I hearken to the retreating echoes in a state of disbelief.
How dare you leave?
The man who looked death in the eye has disappeared.

You thought I use hyperbole in speech
but wait till you view with the second sight granted to the deceased
my grief water every vein that steaks your grave
until new blood seeps into your dissolving heart,
my tears.

Wait till you see your eyes bloom into fleur-de-lis
to float on the surface of every word I out-breathe,
endowing the shields of my words with heraldic miens.

Apart From

Apart from Sir Sean Connery, the sage
and the antiquarian Nicholas Cage
what would be your perfect catch?
The Roger Moore of The Persuaders,
or the Kevin Costner of Dances With Wolves?
A Scottish,
or wolf-dancing match!

Apart from Auden’s Funeral Blues
and the bards’ of the Yorkshire moors,
with what type of verse do you converse?
With Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
or with Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol ?
The hyperbolic,
or penitent strain!

Apart from the wall-breaking Pink Floyd’s
and the sensuous sinuousness of Depeche Modem
to what type of music are you attuned?
To the Arthurian leitmotifs of erudite Era,
or the expansive vistas of Massive Attack?
A psychedelic,
or transfiguring bent!

Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Since 1996, she has been
lecturing in Syria. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide
Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, the Pennsylvania Literary
Journal, The Blotter, Mad Swirl, Leaves of Ink, Down in the Dirt,
WestWard Quarterly, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Crossways 4, A New
Ulster, The Moon Magazine, the Mojave River Review, The Opiate, Always
Dodging the Rain, Coldnoon, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine.

Books From The Pantry: The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems by Kevin Morris: Reviewed by Giles L. Turnbull

(The cover photo shows one of Kevin Morris’s clocks with him in the background, close to a window).

The Writer’s Pen

You accuse me of hiding in my ivory tower.
I answer that I have no power,
Other than my pen
Which, when
It scratches,
Sometimes catches
The truth of the matter,

That is the opening of the title poem and it is a perfect introduction to the collection. Kevin casts a sharp eye at the modern world while drawing heavily on the rhyming style of previous centuries; that opening poem continues,

The wise well
Know that those who go
Down that path
Oft produce great art.

When I say that Kevin casts a sharp eye over the world in which we live, mine and Kevin’s paths crossed a long time ago. We were students at Swansea University at the same time. I was sighted and he was, and still is, blind. I remember seeing him and his guide dog at the Junior Common Room bar, though never thought to go speak to him … and now here we are and I too have lost my sight, so it is a delight to be a blind person reviewing a blind person’s poetry, utilising our sharp eyes!

In the wood’s dark heart,
The breeze
Whispers in the trees
Words that I cannot comprehend.
May God send
Me peace
And this breeze
Never cease.

Kevin’s poems, frequently a single stanza or two, hark back to the days when poets celebrated the countryside and revelled in the sights, sounds and scents of the great outdoors. Blind people do not, contrary to many people’s assumptions, have superpower senses; but we learn to pay more attention to the ones we encounter or whose absence we notice. The poem, Wisteria, exemplifies this for me:


Wandering around Hampton Court
In late May, a thought,
Prompted by Wisteria hanging on a wall.
A few purple flowers, their scent
Already spent
And ready to fall,
Did to me call.

There are myriad examples of how the world sounds, from a bird singing in a tree (Autumn Bird) the sounds of clocks (The Hands Are Almost at Half-Past, and This Ticking Clock Calms), all of which are one after another, ending with the hum of a fridge.

The fridge’s hum
And the clock’s tick tock
For the most part run
Unnoticed, as background
Until they
One day

This collection of succinct poems can metaphorically lift the blindfold from a reader’s eyes and point out the things that maybe had stopped being noticed because of the domineering sense of sight. It is an accessible and delightful read.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1730814883/
Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GD1LBMV/
Audible http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Writers-Pen-and-Other-Poems-Audiobook/B07KPPQ2K2

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by J.J. Campbell

the cycle to continue

i remember when i
told my mother i
was molested as
a child

she started to cry

it would be years
until i realized she
was crying because
it happened to her
as well, as a child

that made me wonder
if deep down she
wanted the cycle
to continue

i never bought this
bullshit that parents
want their children
to have better lives
than them

it goes against every
fibre of human
psychology i have
ever learned

i’m not asking for
a medal for getting
into my forties and
not having any

i’m simply saying
perhaps i should
get a better tax
credit for ending
a cycle of abuse

if the woman would have been white

and here’s another
story of a black
woman missing
for over twenty

none of the white
television anchors
are willing to say
the truth

if the woman
would have been
white, the family
would have had
some sense of
closure by now

the anchors want
you to believe
hope still exists

no wonder i
stopped watching
the evening news

a few miles downstream

i once went swimming
at midnight in the river

i was alone and i
desperately wanted
to die

just my luck, i was
able to get a few miles
downstream just by

i went under and
stopped holding
my breath

apparently, the
journey is not
over yet

although, i do help
clean the river each

i’ll always blame
the litter for not
allowing me to
go deeper and
finish this life

the last sucker on this planet

my best friend
blames me for
her cancer

i cry at night
when i think
how unable
i am to help

but then again

i refuse to be
the last sucker
on this planet

the days of
needing to
dance naked
on the freeway
are drawing
to a close

even the losers
get to have a
damn convention

happiness in slavery

it always catches
me off guard when
i see a beautiful
black woman with
a white guy wearing
a confederate flag

i’m guessing two
more clueless souls
that bought the lies
about state’s rights

or perhaps they
believe they found
happiness in slavery

or considering
the size difference
between the two

i’m guessing the racist
likes being dominated
by the nubian queen

J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is currently trapped in suburbia, plotting his revenge.
He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, and Chiron Review.
His most recent chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press.
You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Poetry Drawer: Poetry Slam by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Slam

The poet laureate didn’t wear a helmet
though she knew she should
but she had to admit: she was vain
She liked the way her long grey-blonde curls
flew out behind her
and she liked the way it felt,
like freedom
though she recognized that as trite

While she was distracted
by words cascading in her head
she crashed into a garbage truck
flew over the handlebars
and her delicate skull impacted
the unyielding steel

She went unconscious
woke up to see a man hovering above her
concern on his handsome face
This must be the man of my dreams, she thought
and this time, wasn’t in good enough shape
to recognize it as a cliché

Metaphors broke apart
and senselessly recombined
The swinging elegance of her brain
devolved into literary machinery
on auto-pilot

She’d always taken the road less travelled
and had always profited from it
but now
dazed and confused in a hospital bed
surrounded by local admirers
middle-aged women
whose faces seemed distorted
almost alien
she wished she had worn
a helmet

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Inky Interview: Author Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois from Denver, Colorado

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Pantry Prose: Happily Ever by Marty Carlock

Bad enough that he left me for another man, but I’m told the blighter is still gorgeous. Slim, dark-haired (no doubt with a touch of grey at the temples), with that winning smile, almost bashful, but certain of himself.

And I am not. Gorgeous. I look a good deal like my mother, who in her day looked like the dowager queen. Queen Mary. They had a lot in common. They liked their little tot of gin at the end of the day. They liked dogs. They wore rather outrageous hats. My mother didn’t ride, though I’m not sure the old queen did either. The queen herself, today’s queen, did, as a girl. No longer. I never rode.

So I’m obliged to see him for the first time in twenty-two years. Melinda was two when he left, Priscilla four. Left me high and dry with a pair of pre-school children. Didn’t care.

I just realized, he said. When I met Henry. I was sandbagged. Instantly. Something that has never happened to me before.

Not with me, you’re saying.

He had the grace to colour a little. I fear not, he said. Out you go, I said.

We were schooled to pull up our socks and do whatever we had to do. Duty. Whatever was expected. That was what made it hard to deal with. He was refusing to do what was expected. There he was, a golden boy at Chase, and he threw it all over to go follow his dick.

Sorry. I try not to use improper language. But I also try to speak honestly.

Oh, it’s a good deal easier now than it was then. We were the talk of the club, I’m sure. I made sure I got the club membership, along with everything else I could. I never rode, but I had tennis lessons early and often. I’m moderately good. I’m always in the running for the club singles championship. I have won sometimes. Even though I don’t cover the court as easily as I once did, my game enables me to play on a high level.

In all respects I’m a competent woman. Except in retaining a man, and I don’t consider that my fault. I’ve had a spectacular success in selling real estate. Something about the English accent dazzles Yanks. My clients trust me, and the sellers are inclined to cave in to whatever terms I propose.

I’ve made sure word gets back to him. As I said, I haven’t seen him since that last court date. But the girls have. He hasn’t been too insistent. Clearly his love life is far more important than his progeny. But I have insisted. You need to know him, even though he has done this to us. He’s your father. You need to know who your father is. And what, I suppose. Although it was some years before they realized what.

But now I have to see him. I asked Priscilla, Is your father coming? She looked down before she answered, Yes. No need to be dodgy about it, I said. I’ve always said he’s your father. It’s right that you invited him. She looked up, relieved. Have you asked him to give you away? She glared rather angrily at me, shook her head. Give me away? What right has he to give me away? I’m not a possession of his. I’m scarcely a daughter of his, for god’s sake.

Well. And is his friend coming?

Husband, she said. He and Henry got married when it got to be legal in Massachusetts.

I exhaled at length. You should have told me.

I didn’t know until now. When I invited him. He asked whether his husband was invited. I said of course. I said, any invitation always includes one’s spouse.

Good, I said. Thank god he didn’t invite me to that wedding. Did he invite you and Melinda?

Not me, of course. Or I would have known about it. I don’t know about Melinda. I don’t think so.

And do you want anybody to give you away? Or is that concept so passé?

I’ve thought about it. If anybody did, it should be you. But I don’t know.

If I have a choice, I think I’d rather not waddle down the aisle.

Mu-ther. You do not waddle. Your posture is absolutely perfect. Enviable. She paused. But you might think about trying a different hair style. Something a bit more contemporary.

Yes and lose forty pounds, shall I?

She blushed a bit again. The hair style is doable, you know.

Damned if I’m going to be one of those women who goes on a killing diet for a month just to fit into some fashionable sort of garb for a wedding. Or gussies herself up in some unsuitable way. Nobody looks at the mother-in-law anyway.

Except you know he will. Just to ask himself what he’s missed.

And be damned glad. You know, darling, you’re too smart for your own good.

Tears started. Oh mum. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to me!

I was startled. You don’t think…? I took a big breath. But Brian is such a hunk. Macho.

Yes, but who would have thought Daddy…? Now her face crumpled and the tears fell in plenty.

We do not give in to emotion, ordinarily, so for a moment I hesitated. Then I pulled her to me, awkwardly, I suppose, and let her cry. I didn’t know what to say to her. At length I murmured a litany, repeating, It’s all right, darling, really.

Twenty years dead, whatever existed between him and me. And this was the first time anyone has mourned it.

Marty’s fiction has been published, or is forthcoming, in the American Literary Review, Carbon Culture Review, Crack the Spine, Edison Literary Review, Evening Street Review, Fiction Fix, Glint Literary Journal, The Griffin, Halfway Down the Stairs, Hawaii Pacific Review, Inscape, The MacGuffin, The Madison Review, MARY: A Journal Of New Writing, Menda City Press, Minetta Review, Moon City Review, Old Red Kimono, Pennsylvania English, riverSedge, Phantasmagoria, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and The Storyteller.

For almost 20 years Marty was a regular contributor to The Boston Globe, over 30 newspapers, magazines, some 1,600 articles, is author of two editions of A Guide to Public Art in Greater Boston, writes for Sculpture and Landscape Architecture magazines, and reviews fiction and nonfiction for the Internet Review of Books.

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Dr. Milton Ehrlich


Makes your mouth water
if a toasted marshmallow
approaches your mouth,
or if a hot cup of tea
soothes your insides
on a freezing winter day,
or if the bliss of the breast
allows you to savor the moment
of each life-enhancing breath.
Taste buds may be the key
that opens the door to the taste
and scent of where you were
before you were born.


Just because
I’m green around the gills,
can’t get up from the floor
and every joint aches.

Just because
I can only see a fish-eyed view
of what’s real that no glasses
can correct.

Just because
my gut speaks ferociously
in a language all its own
with gurgles, and hisses
I’ve never heard before.

Just because
You sound so far away,
far away for much too long.

I pulsate
like a far-flung star.


Yet I can still hear
my musical alarm
wake me up for work
Some day I’m going
to murder the bugler,
some day they’re going
to find him dead.
I see my white shirt
hanging on the door,
my empty shiny shoes
lined up on the floor.
I feel alive in a way
I’ve never felt before.
I must get out of bed,
but I’m not here anymore.
Where have I gone you ask?
You will be the first to know
just as soon as I find out.


because you’re not going anywhere,
you’re already there.
Whatever is, is.

Slow down, pace yourself
before you fall down.
Remember to breathe
when you have so many
things to worry about.

Gunslingers are eunuchs
who want to feel like men.
Learn to forgive them
for their ignorance,
but, always be ready
to hit the deck.


is young and tender as a sweet peach tree.
With a lovely face and high cheek bones
there’s a glint of jade that sparkles her eyes.

She has a scent of lavender from her garden,
grown with her long slender fingers and toes
that resemble rare precious stones.

Her hour glass figure beneath thick black hair
billows like dark clouds. Surrounded
by flocks of birds she smiles the smile
of a messenger from heaven.

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 87 year old psychologist and a veteran of
the Korean War. He has published many poems in periodicals such as the
London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin
Review, Taj Mahal Literary journal, Antigonish Review, Ottowa Arts
Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor,
and the New York Times.

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by John Sweet

the distant past, approaching

standing in the sunlit spaces of
late-afternoon shadows, he is talking to
pollock who is dead but the
truth is something else

for november but not

an age of hoses whipped to
death for entertainment

caviar and lemonade

young woman on her bloody knees on
the church steps but
the idea of saviours no longer applies

the stores are all out of business,
windows boarded over,
and he is asking pollock why?

and i am leaning in close,
hoping for an answer

song for tired hands

waves of autumn leaves across
pitted brick courtyards

subtle mistake of considering
early november sunlight to be anything
more than itself and she
turns to me, says you can’t spend your
whole looking for answers in the mouths of
dead men, and it sounds like
                                the truth

sounds like god digging for bones out
along I-88, like pilate selling splinters of
the one true cross

laughter and hope, sure, but what about
the ever-present past?

it was linda’s cancer then
david’s suicide and always the
mumbled wisdom of homeless junkies

it’s the promise of wide open spaces
but even on the warmest afternoons
the fact of winter overwhelms

even in your arms i am
cold and getting colder

am old and getting older

what more can i
give you but the truth?

the image but not the idea

moving east through six a.m.
tunnels of rain, november, december,
age of desperate ghosts, this woman w/
the pale scars keeps slipping pills
between yr lips, keeps speaking in a
language he doesn’t quite understand

only 10,000 miles to the coast

only the ghost of frida kahlo
to light the way

sister asleep in the back seat and he
misses the exit and then the
one after that, and these faded plastic
wreaths w/ their tilted wooden crosses
on the side of the highway

this first grey light of day

thinks let me keep my name

thinks let the suicides all
take someone else’s

starts with love and then
burns his way down to the
ghostwhite bones

litany of concentric circles

finished his drink then
shot himself

said he hoped the poem would be better than the
shit i usually wrote but i didn’t even
know him, wasn’t even there, and he pulled the
trigger and it was november

was sunlit and cold and the blood on the
walls, sound of the girl smiling in the doorway
of the porn shop and my car wasn’t running again

was rusting in the sunlight of someone else’s
driveway and the sound of the
shot and she was smiling as i walked by, was sharing a
cigarette with the guy who worked there, asked me
how the poem was going, said she wasn’t even there but
he had finished the drink then shot himself and
past the high school was the river

sunlit and cold and i found his body floating
near the shore, knew his girlfriend but i couldn’t
lift him up and two kids on the bridge above
throwing rocks down at us, tried to explain that i
wasn’t there, that i wasn’t here, but my
hands had lost all feeling

mouth was bleeding and the hole in the side of his
head where the light poured out, said the girl
had been his sister and i told him he was dead

do you remember?

it was november, bright blue sky and frozen and
he’d written his girlfriend a letter, had told her
he was sorry and then he pulled the trigger

told her to ask me about the poem

showed her some words i’d scribbled across the backs of
some carry-out menus when i found her
standing in the doorway of the mexican restaurant,
explained that i wasn’t even there, and these kids
across the street throwing rocks at us

my car down by the river, tangled up in blue
on the radio and she said she’d always hated dylan,
said she’d always hated the stones, and then he
finished his drink and pulled the trigger

static poured out of the hole in his heart and
he said the poem was the important thing

said the gun was just a metaphor but
he wouldn’t stop bleeding

laughed when i showed him what i’d written
and told me i’d better try again

indian summer

on these clouded glass afternoons
spelled out in pastel shades of blue and
grey, down dead-end streets in a
town you can’t escape, climb the cemetery
walls, walk the last thousand miles
down to the river, body of a dog
tortured and killed, 13 year-old kids huffing
spray paint, soft warmth of the
mid-afternoon sun, end of autumn,
                                freeway sound

                                dream of home

                                wake up lost

                                still no sign of snow

John Sweet’s Blog

Inky Interview Exclusive: T. L. Dyer

Congratulations on your début novel, Hidden, which is the first book in the Hidden Sanctuary urban dystopia series. We are thrilled for you! Can you please give us a synopsis, and an excerpt, walking us through the concept?

Thank you, that’s really appreciated. So, the Hidden Sanctuary series is set in the near future (in 2030), within a corporate-run city with a heavy focus on financial success. If you can make money, you’re rewarded; if not, you’re pushed out. This first book in the series centres on two sides of the city: those who live within it, and those who have separated themselves from it to live self-sufficiently on the outskirts in abandoned manufacturing units. This latter group are men only, who refer to themselves as the Tribe, and they’ve adopted a doctrine, the purpose of which is to allow them to live free of mental stress (in particular, free from judgement and expectation). Which is all fine until main character, Jacob, has a run-in with a wounded Sada, an “Outsider”, and his instinct is to help her. This interaction triggers memories of a trauma from his past he had erased, and as Sada returns to find out more about his tribe and to establish a friendship, cracks begin to appear in the idyllic existence that had cocooned him up to that point. What had once seemed like an easier way of life becomes less so as he realises he can’t outrun his past.

He had almost forgotten what frustration felt like. The kind that starts in the middle of your gut and spreads up through your body until it sticks in your throat so you want to yell without constraint. Funny how he should forget when it was a state of being that had once consumed him every single moment of every day, nights too. Its reappearance now was like someone loosening the lid on a jar that had been sealed a long time ago to prevent the contents escaping. He’d thought whatever those contents were would be long dead and decayed by now, but what had stirred in him weeks ago had threatened that assumption. And now with each day that came he couldn’t help feeling that a part of himself was giving way again, going under.”

With a dual perspective, the story alternates between Jacob’s point of view and Sada’s. The latter enables the reader to witness the division between wealth and poverty within the city, and the pressures that force some residents to take desperate measures.

There’s a heavy focus on mental health issues in the series. We know a lot about women’s mental health, so I wanted to explore what unspoken internal struggles men endure, and to highlight these by pressing them into a high-pressured darkened room and turning on the light.

Where can we get a copy of Hidden?

At the moment it’s available as ebook and paperback at Amazon, but later in the year it will become available on other platforms as well. You can also find out more about all the books in the series on my website, T.L.Dyer

How did you approach the structure of your novel? Did you have a clear idea, or did it evolve, or both?

A little of both. I’m not a huge planner when it comes to writing. All of my short stories started with their first line popping into my head and I ran with them from there. That’s fine and exciting for a short story, but I knew for a novel I would need to plan more or risk wasting my time writing down a blind alley. The magic of the Scrivener software allowed me to create lots of notes and a rough outline – literally just compiling thirty chapters and writing a few lines in each to guide me, with build-up moments, reveal moments, the Long Dark Night of the Soul, and then the conclusion. Sounds rudimentary and it was, but it helped me stay on track, while also giving me the freedom to see where the characters would take me. Suffice to say, the ending was not what I’d expected.

You are also an editor. Tell us about your experiences. Have you any advice for this career path? What are the high and low points?

I’ve just recently wound down my editing business, which I had run for the last three years. While I initially planned on running both editing and indie author business side by side, it soon became clear that the amount of work involved in writing and publishing books on a regular schedule would leave me no time (mental or physical) to do both. Running an editing business was a wonderful experience though; working with other writers and seeing how they progressed was so heart-warming, and it meant I got to share my passion for books and words with others who felt the same. The high points included the wonderful feedback I received from clients who not only felt I helped improve their work but also got a lot out of the editing experience, tips and tricks they could take with them onto future projects; another high point was the good friends I made as a result of it. I was lucky enough not to have any bad/difficult clients.

The biggest low point was – as with any freelancing business – the inconsistency of workload. While working on a project, it was great; but there were lots of quiet periods when you begin to doubt yourself and whether you’ll ever have any more work come your way.

Career-wise, there are plenty of editors who do write, but I think it comes down to priorities. If you’re happy to write in your free time with editing as your main business, then great. But for me, I found the desire to write and publish began to overtake everything else, and as editing is such an in-depth, mentally draining process, I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit all of my attention to everything – something would give eventually. Should I get tired of writing and publishing, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to editing – though it can be hard work, it’s also a very enjoyable and rewarding job if you’re a book lover. If you want to be an editor, start with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) who will point you in the right direction for training and advice. Other editors are extremely helpful and open with their experiences; it’s a truly supportive community. Also consider doing some beta reading/editing voluntarily (see forums on places like Goodreads) to get some pressure-free experience under your belt (and if they’re happy with your work, ask for a testimonial for your website).

As an OU comrade, and Inky veteran, how important do you think studying creative writing is? Have you any advice for writers?

I don’t think I’d have reached this point without my creative writing and literature studies. Everything I’ve done over the last three years has stemmed from the completion of the OU Literature degree. Which is not to say I think everyone needs to go that route in order to write, but it certainly broadened my understanding of something I already loved and thought I knew a lot about. When we are voracious readers, we’re already teaching ourselves the conventions of storytelling, and for some writers that might be enough to get by; but ‘close reading’ and studying the techniques of writing is hugely beneficial (and satisfying), whether that be from courses or teach-yourself books, and it really does make a difference to writing quality. Talent is one thing, but learning the craft is crucial if you want to improve.

What are you reading at the moment?

As usual, a bit of everything – my book tastes are a little eclectic. But in particular I’m trying to read genres that are closely associated to what I’m writing or intend to write, in order to see how it’s done! So I’m reading thrillers (in particular, indie author A.D. Davies’ Adam Park series; addavies.com), transgressive fiction (Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis), and also Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (because the learning never stops).

Who would you choose as one of your favourite characters from literature, and why?

Excuse me while I have a moment alone with my bookshelf… So I’m going to pick two, each for very different reasons. The first is Patrick Bateman from Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. No, he’s not a nice guy, he’s a psychopath. But I’m really intrigued by out-of-the-ordinary characters and he’s certainly that. The writing techniques in this book are original and outstanding, and particularly fascinating about Bateman is that despite being a narcissist with no emotional intelligence, he spends the entire book trying to communicate who he really is (or thinks he really is) to those around him; he has a strong desire for someone to understand/comprehend the real him.

My second choice is Oliver Comstock in a book called A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth. Oliver isn’t the main protagonist of this story about boyhood, the absence of paternal love and its ramifications, but he shines throughout this beautifully poignant and original narrative as a character who is funny, confident, loving, unafraid, and supportive of his friends regardless of their individual mannerisms and behaviour. A strong, unique, easy-going character. If he were real, he would be one of the ‘special ones’.

Have you written in any other genre?

In terms of form, I’ve written and had published one poetry piece and several short stories (including in your very own Sea of Ink and Fields of Words anthologies). This novel came about initially because I wanted to experience the publishing process rather than just spout instructions to editing clients which I had read elsewhere. Fortunately or unfortunately, this then escalated into something more, and I was bitten by the bug.

In terms of the genre of this particular book (and series), this is something new for me. I didn’t choose dystopia specifically; rather, as elements of the story came together it chose itself and seemed the appropriate setting. For this first book, I ignored most advice about writing to market and wrote what I’d like to read, and this happened to be the form it took. Anything I write always starts with the characters first and I go where they send me, which usually veers towards realism and psychological conflict. I’m a fan of gritty thrillers and dark dramas, and this is where I feel the next books after this series will take me.

What is next for you, what plans have you got?

I’ve written books two and three in the Hidden Sanctuary series, so I’ll be working on these in preparation for their release – book two in March, and book three in May. After which, it’ll be on to the next new idea and those early stages of researching, outlining and getting down the first draft. By the end of 2019, if all goes to plan, I will have released five books in total, getting my indie author career underway. And now that I’ve said it, I have to do it… so, no pressure!

And just finally, I’d like to sneak in a big thank you to Ink Pantry for their support as always.

Avoid eye contact at all costs… That’s how they get you.”

The men had separated themselves from their old lives.

But had they really thought they could stay hidden forever?

When an Outsider forces her way into Jacob’s life, the emotionally pain-free existence the men have cultivated in the abandoned buildings skirting the city is threatened. Fighting against the instinctive pull of the ‘outside world’ and the memories of a dark past he’d rather forget, Jacob must choose either the tribe who saved him or the past that might kill him.

In the city, Sada has identified the hooded stranger who saved her life and a society few know anything about. Determined to learn more about this hidden tribe, she is confronted with the depth of the scars her city is leaving behind in its quest for financial global power. Her journalistic instincts are to reveal the truth in a city that wants to bury it, but to do so could have fatal consequences for all of them.

Poetry Drawer: Petition by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

In Arles
the citizens circulated a petition
demanding that Vincent be institutionalized
It was following that commitment that he
moved to St. Remy

The people of Arles
do not know that I am only in their town
because I escaped from a mental hospital
stole money from my mother
and fled across the ocean

to where I lived
when I was younger, stronger
and my mind was less disordered

I do not believe that disorder
warrants imprisonment

When I see the citizens in the bakeries
and cafes
giving me hard stares
and passing a sheet of paper from hand to hand
I will escape to St. Remy

where I will play my violin
on the street
for coins

Inky Interview: Author Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois from Denver, Colorado

Flash In The Pantry: Serotonin Reuptake by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Mandela Warp: A Moment in History by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Cooking Shows by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Still Wet by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Loch by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Photogenic by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Microwave by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Granite by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Trick by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Coal by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Dickensian Poetry: Miss Havisham’s Love Song by Alice Harrison

I have never seen the sun.
Break their hearts my pride and hope,
Break their hearts and have no mercy.
With men and women I have done.

See the cake. A bride cake. Mine!
If he love you laugh to scorn.
If he love you, beggar him!
See the clock. Twenty-to-nine.

So new to him. So old to me.
I gave you jewels, gave you praise.
I took your heart and made it ice.
I sometimes have a sick fancy.

Lay me here when I am dead.
Now I know you tired of me.
Hard and thankless on the hearth.
Wedding meats shall be my bed.

These bridal clothes shall be my shroud.
Did I never give you love,
Burning love and jealous love?
A warning and a lesson proud.

Walk me round and round this room.
Speak the truth you ingrate, you
You stock and stone. You cold, cold heart.
Remember this will be my tomb.

I held you to this wretched breast
And lavished years of tenderness.
Times forgotten. Soon forgotten.
All is broken. All is rotten.