Interview with Author Karina Guardiola Lopez


(Eleven Lopez)
Author, Lyricist, Writer and Poet

Karina Guardiola Lopez (also known as Eleven Lopez) was born in the Bronx, raised in Queens and now resides in Spanish Harlem, New York City. She is an author, poet, lyricist and educator. She has written two poetry books which are available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and When Karina is not working on her poetry, she works and counsels the homeless, foster care and underprivileged population of Manhattan and the South Bronx. She is currently pursuing her Masters Degree at Baruch College and is also working on a third book. For more information you can go to

I’ve had the pleasure of reading along with Eleven and love the way she plays with words to create genuine and needed observations of the world we are blessed to live in! – Theresa


What are your genre and your intended audience? My genre is Poetry/spoken word and my audience is pretty much anyone who wants to hear what I want to share.

What are you currently writing? Right now, I am currently working on my third book.

When do you make time to write? The moment I see that I am free. Sometimes if something inspires me, I will text it to my phone, type it into the computer or even write on a napkin. I try to keep myself writing at all times.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all? I should have taken more publishing courses in college which involved intense editing.

Tell us about your marketing strategy. Honestly, I do not have one. I wish I had someone to market me. I try to do the best I can by posting events, poems and photos on social networks, but I feel everyone should have someone doing that for them.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how? Yes, very much.  Although my faith is present in mostly all of my works, there is a handful of works from the perspective of others, whether it was inspired from a debate, intimate conversation or something I overheard. I try to write about the human condition.

Do you have a particular theoretical foundation that keeps you afloat? My faith is my theoretical foundation.

What would you like to see in your literary community? I would like to see more support of other artists instead of making it a competition. Humility is key to achieve that.

*How long have you been writing?* I have been writing since I was about 9 years old. I was very much into short stories and children’s fiction. When I was 11, I created a hard cover for my book report out of a cereal box; it was a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I then started to  write poetry until I was around 16 years old.



Writing: stopping to breathe

Theresa's inner child writing

My inclination to post this pic is because I need to get back to basics. Within the last six weeks, I’ve had a book launch at La Casa Azul Bookstore.


The experience was surreal and beautiful. My friends surrounding me, my family beaming at me, my fellow authors reading pieces new to me and pieces that I’ve loved for a long while, the sounds of the no. 6 train making its way through East Harlem on a balmy Friday evening. All were blessings.


Me smiling. I remember when all of my adult pictures showed a cynical smirk. I’m not that woman anymore and haven’t been for a long time. Signing copies of a novel that I swear I channeled. This story was spiritually ‘given’ to me to tell- a gift that I’m proud to have taken care of and cherish.

fire escape

My novel’s back cover. The fire escape I played on with my cousins. This was the fire escape I envisioned in my novel. The same one my cousin Mike, Uncle Louie and I ate lunch under realizing that the restaurant was Mike’s apartment when we were kids. The same lunch where I received a call and put my phone aside not realizing it was the call I’d been praying for many months from my soon to be editor- Jon Marcantoni from Aignos Publishing. Serendipitous you say? Me too.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble- where I read last night with Women of Color Writers’ Community. Thank you, Sister Bisi and all the very talented readers that took part in this event.

La Marqueta

On Sunday the 18th of August I will be sitting at a table selling copies of my book at La Marqueta in East Harlem as created by Maria Aponte- writer, performer, poeta who is gifted with inexhaustible energy with others all equally creative!


So, tonight I will sit at my little table and write. Keeping it simple. Going within where it all begins.





Jon Marcantoni: The power and potential of literature

Jon Marcantoni


What is literature to me? I think every art has its distinct advantage in the way it chooses to express itself. Art is based on the senses, can we feel it, touch it, taste it? Art has to excite has to excite us, it has to move us, not only to enjoy the experience, but to be challenge by it, to act in accordance with the message of that particular work. Painting is pure visuals, same with still photography, it tells the story of mankind through a still life that speaks not only to that moment but to that particular state of being. Moving photography, film or video, is the great visual representation of God that exists. There is something holy in film, it not only captures a still life, but an entire movement. It creates worlds, characters, in real and imagined time. Filmmaking is truly an act of God, that is, creating man and nature and space and time, all to suit a story. Music, by using sounds, can manipulate my mind in such a way that I time travel, to my past, to my daydreams, to moods and moments that defy linguistic expression. Music is the primal scream, communication without words, that much like a painting or a photograph, captures a moment and analyzes the emotional weight of it. Dance is the manifestation of music, it is the joining of the audible and the physical, giving form to the sounds that captivate us, that we wish to understand but also kind of fear, and through the dances that emotional turmoil resolves itself by taking the chaos of sound and controlling it in movement.

What then, is literature?

Literature is the ultimate art. It uses language to manipulate time and capture humanity and nature, and to create, literature creates in the same way that film does, it lingers on moments like a painting, it creates rhythm and then contains it through grammar, it uses language to define the undefinable. It also, and here is where literature has the real advantage, not only creates worlds but it creates personalized worlds. Whereas the world created on film is definitive, literature creates an experience that changes according to whomever is reading it. It is a representation of the scientific theory that states that for every choice there are multiple realities where a person has selected each choice. The book you and I read may have the same blueprint, but the characters, the locations, the meaning, means different things to us. No art is as fluid as literature, as undefinable, because it is an experience that relies on your personal experience and preferences to influence the world it creates.

And this is why I feel it is important that we as writers not limit ourselves. It is very easy to get in the mindset of being safe or generic in order to attract publishers. I’ve certainly done it, and it is a tendency I fight against. There is a difference between adhering to a style and the rules of that style and altering your very voice to fit a supposed expectation imposed upon on us through literary journals and interviews with publishing professionals about what they look for in a book. Art cannot breathe in this environment. Literature has the potential to inspire, to engage, to change the world, why settle for mediocrity just because it might help you sell a book?

But the desire is clear and logical, we want to be successful, financially and artistically. We want this crazy habit of writing to support us and our families so we can dedicate every day to it. But maybe, just maybe, if you let yourself be yourself, and write what you love the way you want to write it, someone will like it enough to publish it. And if you promote it hard enough, it could be successful, you never know.

While the commercial needs and artistic needs of creating art are unavoidable, we should never lose sight of the great weapon we have at our disposal. To create worlds, to create relationships that inspire, that cause movements, the writers of history have often been associated with revolutionaries and with good reason, because if a book can imagine a better world, then why shouldn’t we? Literature is a weapon, and we should wield it with discern


Interview with Author Sylvia Weber

Sylvia Weber is a consultant, therapist and a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and geriatric nursing.  She works in the psychiatric gerontology liaison program at The Miriam Hospital and is the Government Relations consultant to The Rhode Island State Nurses Association.  She is active in civic and professional  organizations.  Sylvia was a member of the American Nurses Association Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics and the Rhode Island Nurses Association Cabinet on Nursing Practice, board of directors and past president.   Sylvia is currently a member of the American Nurses Association – Political Action Committee Board of Trustees. She’s known as one of the pioneers for the introduction and integration of holistic health/complimentary healing modalities in the Rhode Island and surrounding area.

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

My initial motivation came from the encouragement of family, friends, colleagues and clients/patients.  For many years they encouraged me to write and bring my knowledge and experience into the world on a more global level.  This was reinforced through my various meditative practices.  I knew from my experiences in life that there is information, a perspective, a way of being, that would be helpful to others.  I believe this book will bring greater peace, harmony and compassion into our world.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

At first I thought that the books focus would be for people who are involved in government politics.  As I began to write I realized the book was for all adults, to enhance their ability to address the political issues they face and are involved in throughout life.  I wanted it to be an easy read, packed with useful information and affordable.

What are you currently writing?

At this time I’m co-authoring a textbook with a friend, Zite Hutton.  The text book will be based on the principles and strategies in my book.  Our goal is to bring the information to college and university students.  Our vision is to give them a foundation for resolving issues with compassion for the good of many and the planet.

I’m also planning to write a children’s book.  My dream is that it will be a book that will encourage them to bring this way of being into their lives and relationships as they grow and mature.

How do you make time to write?

This has and is extremely difficult and takes a great deal of discipline for me.  Working full time and having family, professional and community responsibilities was challenging.  My home has always been open to the people in my life and it was an effort for them and me to set the needed limits.  I also had to deal with my own procrastination issues – a tendency to allow “things” to distract me, as well as other “human” issues.  I found it more productive to write while out of my home or when people were less likely to drop by.  Visiting family and friends who would help set up an environment conducive to writing was also effective.

What inspires you to write?

I’m inspired by my experiences in the world and a commitment I made when I was 6 years old.  While hearing the pain experienced by people involved in WW II, I vowed that I would do something each day to make this a better world.  I believe that my writing will increase the impact of this vow.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

I would be more disciplined about setting aside time to write and not allow non-emergencies to interfere.  I would also be more patient and less critical with myself to prevent feeling overwhelmed.  To do what I could, when I could.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

This has also been a challenge for me, finding the time during the usual business hours and selling myself.  It’s been an adventure in my growth and transformation.  I have contacted people I know who have radio shows and have been interviewed by them.  I’m arranging for book signing events.  Announcements have been sent out to various groups I’m involved in and I’m sending e-mails and letters to people who will not be reached by other means.  Many people I know are using their contacts to get the word out about my book, including this wonderful blog.  I’m also meeting with people, who have published, to share marketing ideas, eg: bookstores, libraries, organizations interested in the topic, etc.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

My spiritual life, which is quite eclectic, is the main motivation for all I do.  I draw on many spiritual philosophies and practices which is the foundation of how I live my life.  Being human, I have the challenges we all have and believe it’s Creators way of saying, “Good job!  You are now ready for the next spiritual level.”  For me, my spiritual life is the core of my Being.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

I’m not involved in a literary community, even though I know several people who have written and published.  The burning desire for all of us is to create changes that will encourage a more peaceful, harmonious, loving and healthier world for all.

Thanks for visiting here today, Sylvia. All too often what I’ve read previously about politics has left me wondering where I, as an individual, fit into that arena in my life. What I find most profound is how you treat the subject in a personal and spiritual way that has encouraged me to find how I impact and am influenced by politics in the daily fabric of my life. –Theresa


Interview with Gil Fagiani- Poet/Author

Gil Fagiani’s poetry collection Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007) is set at Pennsylvania Military College in the 1960s, his poetry chapbook Grandpa’s Wine (Poets Wear Prada in 2008) focuses on his family’s immigrant generation, and has been translated into Italian by Paul D’Agostino. His book of poetry Chianti in Connecticut was inspired by his childhood in Springdale, Connecticut (Bordighera, pending 2010). Finishing Line Press will be publishing in 2012 his new chapbook Serfs of Psychiatry which is set in a state psychiatric hospital.
Gil’s poems and translations have been published in more than a dozen anthologies, as well as such newspapers and journals as The New York Times, The Paterson Literary Review, Mudfish, Skidrow Penthouse, Descant, Philadelphia Poets, Identity Theory, Lips, The Ledge, Italian Americana, The Journal of Italian Translation, and Gradiva.
He has translated into English, poetry written in Italian, Abruzzese dialect, and Spanish. He co-curates the monthly open reading of the Italian American Writers’ Association at the Cornelia Street Café, NYC, and is the Associate Editor of Feile-Festa: A Literary Arts Journal.
A social worker (L.C.S.W.) and addiction specialist (C.A.S.A.C.) by profession, Gil directed a residential program for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in Downtown Brooklyn for twenty-one years.
What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

My first sustained period of writing began in the early 1970s. I participated in the protest politics of the time, and writing served as an expression and documentation of my activism. Through advocacy writing—of leaflets, newspaper articles, and position papers—I strove to raise people’s consciousness about such social justice issues as health care, poverty, and racism.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Today, poetry is my main genre, but I also write short stories, book reviews, essays, and memoir pieces.

I try to reach as many people as possible, and take particular satisfaction in attracting people who aren’t usually a part of the “literary scene.”

Of course, like most writers I value feedback about my work from fellow writers. In this regard, I’m fortunate to belong to Brevitas, an online poetry circle dedicated to the short poem (14 lines or less). Twice a month I exchange two poems with about 50 Brevitarians, some of whom make suggestions for revisions.

 What are you currently writing?

I just finished a book review of Robert Cohen’s, Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, which will be published in The Italian American Review.

I’ve proofread the galleys of Serfs of Psychiatry, my new poetry chapbook that will soon be published by Finishing Line Press. It was inspired by my 14 years with the New York State Office of Mental Health, and in particular, the 12 years I worked in a state psychiatric hospital.

I recently completed a book-length poetry manuscript entitled Logos, which focuses on my experiences in a therapeutic community for drug addicts in the South Bronx, and my involvement in the radical politics of the 70s.

I continue to write six-line poems known as fulcrums, inspired by the Cuban American poet Pablo Medina. As a member of Brevitas, I submit two fulcrums twice a month. To date, I’ve written more than a hundred and am considering translating a selection of them into Italian to create a bilingual book.

Later this year, Poets Wear Prada will publish a bilingual edition—English/ Italian—of my 2008 chapbook Grandpa’s Wine. The translator, Paul D’Agostino, holds a Ph.D. in Italian and is a poet, fiction writer and the Assistant Editor of the Journal of Italian Translation.

How do you make time to write? 

I’m wedded to structure, having been a cadet at Pennsylvania Military College from 1963 to 1967, which served as the inspiration for Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007), my first book-length collection of poetry.

Since I retired in July 2011, my writing time is more flexible. In the past, I would write early in the morning before my workday started, a bit in the afternoon, and perhaps in the evening.

Now I think more in terms of at least one quality writing period each day. Since I don’t have to contend with a work schedule, this period can vary from early morning to evening. The great bonanza of retirement is that at times I can devote a day—even two—almost entirely to literary activities.

What inspires you to write? 

My writing could be spurred by a dreamy bittersweet memory: a scene, a song, or a few words of dialogue. Sometimes a news story serves as my muse. When I’m in this mode, I feel an urgency to express myself through the written word. This usually takes the form of a poem, which is accompanied by a feeling resembling the “high” of a mild intoxicant.

Once I’ve created a rough draft, I’ll continue to work on the poem, put it away, return to it, thus beginning the revision stage, when a poem is honed, deconstructed, and reconstructed. This process can go on for years.

When I believe I have it right, it feels preserved, even immortal; I experience a sense of wholeness and calm.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all? 

This is a difficult question because before I retired my time was much more limited, and I had to choose carefully how to best use it. My tendency was to favor writing and to a lesser extent, organizing book manuscripts, over other activities. In retrospect, I think what I did made sense, but I pay a high price for not also learning how to more effectively promote my work, and extending my literary network. I am trying to rectify this by emulating other writers who have developed marketing strategies.

I also translate Italian poetry and some Italian dialect poetry into English. I believe there is an intimate relationship between translating someone else’s poem into another language and writing your own. In many ways all writing is translating, because even when we write in our native tongue we are translating feelings, sounds and images into words, sentences and stanzas. 

I regret not having lived yet in Italy for at least six months, so I could have acquired a better sense of Italian and dialect within their cultural matrix. I also have a love of Spanish, my second language, and again wish I could have spent more time in a Spanish-speaking country to deepen my understanding of the nuances of language and culture.

Tell us about your marketing strategy. 

My marketing strategy is limited, for example, I have an author’s page at, and continue to learn how to employ social media to my advantage. For now my online presence is limited to an Amazon author site [] and a literary profile listed in Poets and Writers’ directory as well as a professional profile on LinkedIn


I think in terms of constituencies: There are my friends and general literary acquaintances. When I’m involved with a book launch or literary activity, I contact them by email, and in some cases phone and snail mail. I will also drop off leaflets promoting my activities at other literary events. My five books of poetry are archived at Poets House.

Secondly, there is the Italian American community. I’m a member of the Board of Directors of the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) and co-curate the monthly reading series at the Cornelia Street Café. I will mention from the stage what I’m doing, as well as circulate promotional leaflets to the audience. My profile is on the IAWA website, and I have an opportunity to post announcements in the IAWA Newsletter, as well as the online calendar of the John D. Calandra Institute of Italian American Studies, which is affiliated with Queens College.

I am also a member of the Calandra Institute’s Community Council, and at times present my work at their events, such as a conference they sponsored in 2010 on Italian Americans and Mental Health. I have also organized a series of bilingual readings—Italian or Italian dialect into English—with Brooklyn college professor, Luigi Bonaffini, who edits The Journal of Italian Translation.

Finally, there is the progressive political community. I am a founding member of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, and some of my work is posted on their website ( I have presented papers or read my work at such venues as the annual three-day conference of the Left Forum, and the Puffin Cultural Foundation, with Veterans for Peace. Two of my poems, “Pigs” and “Birding Near the Mexican Border,” can be found on the online journal New Verse News (  

Does Your Spiritual Life Influence Your Writing? If So, How? 

Yes, it does in several ways. First, I feel a need to bear witness to scenes of injustice, such as anti-immigrant prejudice, and the official neglect of the mentally ill. Secondly, I try to give voice to those who rarely express themselves in a public literary forum, such as the institutionalized mentally ill, and career drug addicts and alcoholics. By giving them a voice, I hope to affirm their dignity. 

Finally, there is the issue of redemption, particularly as it relates to my years of substance abuse. By turning destructive experiences into the clay of poetry, I feel I have created something of value that I can pass on. 

I believe with few exceptions, people caught up in inhuman conditions are capable of committing inhuman acts against others. In my writing—and as a writer—I strive to be modest, truthful and explore the complexity of human suffering, including my own.

What Is Your Literary Community Burning Desire? 

Having friends in the literary community in Canada, I have become more sensitive to the benefits of government subsidies of the arts. I would like to see something similar to develop in this country, so that writing and literature wouldn’t be so beholden to expensive MFA writing programs and elite cultural brokers, thus limiting its reach to the general public. 

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