Lizy Mostowski in Conversation with Matthew Macaskill

Twenty Directions
A paperclip holds me together
Wax traps a whisper in my ear
Dry sand fills my mouth
A single palm tree dips in the distance
The scent of crushed coffee beans creaming
triggers a goosebump caravan up and down my spine
I can see the flavor of her chapstick
in the reflection of Jeremy's San Diego shades
We're lost in a forest, surrounded by pine
so we head back south
but Sarah won't stop QQing about her feet
Nothing happens after something happens C'est la vie
The stoic tablecloth of faith
is primped across a trio of table tops
Grinning into the opaque compact mirror between her toes
I levitate and tear from myself my soul
(What use is it anyway?)
The Hippie blogs every moment from below
Tomorrow we will regret this
Stapled to the sky a flame licks my insides
eyes seeping caffeine, screaming
“Walk with shoes if you don't have feet!”
All the while the walnut dances with his wife
the rusty, southern sign points north

Lizy Mostowski: As a young poet, are you consciously going for a certain aesthetic or do you allow your writing to flow freely and instinctually?
Matthew Macaskill: I definitely try to allow my poetry to flow freely and instinctually during the initial scratches of pen to paper. Most of my writing hits the page between metro stops or when I’m up late at night unable to sleep. It’s rare that I’ll sit down in front of a computer for the purpose of writing a poem. For me, that step comes when I transcribe to a word processor, where the first conscious edits are made. I live for those moments when a good idea, a line, or even only a few words come to mind and I scramble to get them down on paper.
As I continue to grow as a writer, I find that my work is shrinking, becoming more concise, economical. I find myself trying to say more by writing less—influenced, admittedly, by the restrictive form of Social Media. While my style lends itself more to free verse than traditional modes, I do find pleasure in the occasional haiku. “Memory Key,” which has been selected for Soliloquies 15, is a good example of my use of free verse to express an overall idea and theme in a poem.

LM: You read at the Pilot in November, alongside Dean Garlick, Jacob Wren, David Clink, and Doug Harris. You gave a great, well received reading, in my opinion. Did you feel as though it was a learning experience, as a student, to have read alongside established authors? Is there any advice you would give to your peers? Is there anything you would change or improve on your reading?
MM: Reading at the Pilot Reading Series in November was awesome. I’m grateful for Professor Jon Paul Fiorentino providing my Advanced Creative Writing Poetry class with the opportunity to take part throughout the year. Also, kudos to my classmate, Heather Stewart, for her great reading that night.
As a writing student, any opportunity to take in a live reading by established authors is a learning experience. The lessons vary from technical—How close should I stand to the microphone?—to timing and style—When might be the best time to use a pause for emphasis? My revision process includes reading aloud, so I become aware of the details, the way a poem sounds, and how it all plays into the overall meaning.
When I decided which pieces to read live, I picked ones that served the form best. I suppose my advice to my peers with regards to readings would be: Practice and be comfortable with what you’re reading. You don’t necessarily need to memorize it, but you should memorize how your poem feels from one line to the next. Also, if you can to choose pieces that may actually gain depth from being read aloud, it will be all the better. Even if you’re not scheduled for a reading any time soon, you should prepare as if you were—you never know what you might discover about your own writing in process.
I grew a pretty gnarly handlebar moustache for “Movember” to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer. Being that it was the 29th of November, my ‘stache was in full force in time for the reading. I think I’ll go with a cleaner look next time around.

LM: What do you plan to do with your Creative Writing degree, anyways?
MM: World domination, definitely. I’m all over place when it comes to writing. My earliest work comes in the form of some (real awful) poems I wrote a decade ago while I was in high school. Later on my writing took the form of articles about the Montreal Canadiens for where I served as Editor-in-Chief  for the 2007-2008 season, as well as a collaborator and editor from 2005 to 2009. Before entering the Creative Writing department at Concordia University, I was drawn to screenplays.
While screenwriting is still one of the paths I plan to follow, I have become intrigued by the storytelling potential of the video game medium. I recognize that video games are continuously evolving and have a lot to offer thanks to advances in technology.  Especially here in Montreal, a world leader in the industry, there is an increasing accessibility for a group of people who share a passion for games to get together and get creative. I’m confident the skills I pick up as I complete my Creative Writing degree will allow me the opportunity to find work that I will enjoy doing.

Matthew Macaskill is a new contributor, his poem Memory Key is forthcoming in Soliloquies 15. He is entering his third year at Concordia University in the Creative Writing program. He's a born and raised Montrealer who bleeds bleu-blanc-rouge.

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