Interview – Nortina Simmons



 Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to write. My dad was a songwriter, guitarist, painter, and my biggest inspiration. Together we wrote songs, (even rap), and short stories (I wrote, he illustrated). However, I didn’t discover my love for poetry writing until my freshman year in college when I learned in a poetry class that all poems didn’t have to sound like Shakespeare or be about love. (Thank God!)

When you create, what inspires you?

My favorite writers of all time are Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe, so you will often see their influence in my writing. My inspiration usually comes from the darker sides of life; the stories we don’t or are too afraid to tell. It’s not necessarily evil, but it’s edgy. Life isn’t all flowers and sunshine, so I explore that concept in my writing. Each poem or story usually starts with a strong image that captures your attention, whether it’s a dead body on the side of the road, or in the case of “With Those Bulging Eyes,” a mother devouring her child. I rarely write happy endings. I want my stories to feel as real as possible, and let’s face it, happy endings rarely occur in the real world.

Tell us about the specific inspiration behind one or each of your accepted pieces.

“With Those Bulging Eyes” draws from several inspirations. The first and most obvious one is the controversial subject of abortion and the emotional, physical, and psychological effects it can have on a woman. It also touches on the fear and uncertainty that comes with being pregnant at a very young age. We’re familiar with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but what is often the case for teenage mothers is that there is no village. The father is absent; the girl’s family doesn’t support her keeping the baby. She feels that her only option is an abortion, which can be both mentally and physically damaging on her, if not from the abortion itself, then from the shaming from others that comes with it. The poem opens up with a very powerful and gut wrenching image– the painting, “Saturn Devouring His Son,” by Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya.

What is your medium of choice? Why?

For a woman in her early 20s, I am very forgetful. I have to write everything down as it comes to me. My poems and stories start on notepads, post-it notes, scrap pieces of paper, the backs of documents and forms, napkins– anything I can write on. Eventually it gets transferred to the computer, where I can save it and finally empty the clutter from my purse, my desk, and all over my bedroom floor.

How did you first discover your love for writing?

I was such a daddy’s girl growing up, so of course, I wanted to be just like him. When we wrote our first song together, I knew I would never be able to put down the pen.

What advice would you give to an aspiring poet?

Keep writing. Don’t be discouraged because you think all poetry has to sound like Shakespeare. Don’t feel confined to writing in a certain meter or rhyme scheme. Poetry is so diverse today. Purchase a $10 poetry anthology and see for yourself. Anything can be a poem, so write what speaks to you, and most importantly, find your voice.

If you weren’t writing about fear, what would be your topic of choice?

While fear will always be my number one choice, if I had to pick another, it would be love. Although I can be quite cynical sometimes, deep down inside, I truly am a hopeless romantic.

fēlan is old English for feel. What makes you feel fear?

Bugs and the things that go bump in the night…



Buy your copy of issue 2 on November 20!

Submit your own work to issue 3.


4 thoughts on “Interview – Nortina Simmons

  1. Pingback: issue 2 artists | fēlan

  2. Pingback: #ThrowbackThursday Poetry: With Those Bulging Eyes | Lovely Curses

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