: Magie Dominic Interview :

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Author and Poet Magie Dominic Interview

". . . I always loved the way you can paint with words . . . "

Antioch Review contributor, Magie Dominic - pictured - ("The Fisherman and the Photograph") recently agreed to be interviewed.  We hope you enjoy and learn from her experiences. 

1. Tell us about you.Magie Dominic

I grew up in Newfoundland, began writing in high school, then studied art in Pittsburgh and came to New York in the 1960’s.  I began publishing my first poems at that time and also became a part of the newly developed Off-Off Broadway theater movement.

I curated “Caffe Cino – A History of Off-Off Broadway” at Lincoln Centre in 1985 and donated my papers and photographs to the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. My essays and poetry have been published in many anthologies and journals; my artwork has been exhibited in Toronto and New York, including a presentation at the United Nations. I’ve published two books, The Queen of Peace Room and Street Angel, both from Wilfrid Laurier University Press in Ontario, and co-authored two other books. My writing and art archives were entered into NYU Fales Library Permanent Collection in New York.  I am eternally grateful to the publishers who have published my work.

2. What made you want to write?

I began writing when I was in high school and never really stopped. Which is not to say it was all good!! But I always loved the way you can paint with words in the same way you can paint with oils. I love learning new phraseology, new imagery.

3. How many times were you rejected before you were published and paid?

My first published poem was in our high school newspaper.  I was on the editorial board, so that was probably an advantage. The first poem I was paid for was published in The Illustrated Weekly of India. That was around 1966 and I think I was paid in rupees. It was only four or five dollars but the check was so beautiful that I didn’t want to cash it.

Getting my first book, The Queen of Peace Room, published was a study in rejection and lasted probably three years.   I received enough rejection letters to make a book.  I finally found the wonderful people at Wilfrid Laurier University Press in Ontario and that was life changing. They published The Queen of Peace Room in 2002 and it went on to be short listed for three awards.  I will be forever grateful to Brian Henderson who was the director of WLU Press at the time. And WLU Press published its sequel, Street Angel in 2014.  Street Angel received the Silver Medal from the Independent Publishers Awards.

4. How do you handle rejection, and what advice would you give to emerging writers?

I think I handle rejection pretty well. It can be a lonely feeling because it’s so personal. But if you truly believe in your work, don’t ever give up, unless you honestly want to. Don’t give up because of other people. And write every single day, even if it’s only one paragraph.  Also be around other writers, either in writing groups, or attending book readings or taking a class or attending a lecture. My advice is to first get the manuscript as tight as possible. If it’s an especially long piece I’d ask two or three friends to read the work and to be extremely honest with input.  Fine tune what they say and incorporate what seems applicable. After you’ve submitted the manuscript be prepared to wait. Don't give up and don't take rejection personally.

5. Of everything you have written, what is your favorite piece and why?

That’s too complicated. I love many pieces; I love both memoirs for different reasons; I love both stories in The Antioch Review; I love an essay I wrote about a tree that grew outside my window. I love “notes from the cover” a long autobiographical poem published in Arc Poetry Magazine. The poem was the predicate for the two memoirs that followed.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

Frank McCourt, Margaret Atwood, Mary Oliver, Michael Ondaatje, Sappho all for their imagery and Frank McCourt especially for his ability to combine tragedy with humor.  I like haiku – and seeing how a story can be contained within three lines.

7. What else do you want to share with our readers? 

It’s a joy and a privilege to encourage people with their own writing, to give them that spark of a green light if it’s needed, especially life-writing. I often give writing workshops and I teach at a retreat center. I am always available to people as much as possible. I would encourage people who are embarking on an especially difficult memoir project to read The Queen of Peace Room to see how the story unfolds. And I encourage people to be a constant reader of The Antioch Review because of its rich and inspiring content.

If anyone would like to reach me my twitter account is @magiedominic and my website is http://magiedominic.blogspot.com

Thank you.

Magie Dominic

May 2019

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