Interview with Amber Koneval, author of Drunk Dialing The Divine
Tell us about Drunk Dialing the Divine
Drunk Dialing the Divine was compiled as a kind of description of my own faith-spring board. My own personal crutch has always been my anger- I’ve been angry about the circumstances of my birth, angry about the horrible things that have happened to me, angry about the horrible things that have happened to the people I love, and angry about the state of the world. I had this slow realization that there was no way for me to have an honest relationship with my Creator without first tackling that anger- and I had to do it in a way that wasn’t a rejection of Him, or a naive acceptance of everything. While that’s a lot to pack into twenty-two poems, ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’ was never meant to be a full theological expose. It’s simply a start- a start that I hope I am able to share with my readers.
What genre is it?
Religious Poetry (Catholic-Christian).
What kind of poetry is it?
Free-verse. The only times I rhyme are when I am specifically parodying something. I’m pretty emotive, and I’ve found that free verse often serves that best. I guess what makes my own style would be my obsession with line breaks and titling. The line breaks are everything, and many of my poems don’t even really mean anything without a title. I’m by no means an ‘experimental’ or ‘abstract’ poet, however. Nothing against them, I’m just incapable of writing that way.
What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Most likely those who have struggled with their faith, and have found the answers currently available to them to be lacking. I’m a very devout woman, but I am also a realistic one. The title itself is taken from one of the included poems, which reflects on one of the most shocking faith moments of my life. A friend of mine called me, drunk as a skunk at three a.m. to ask for me to pray for him, of all things. It made me think about those moments when we are at our most incoherent, our most dependent, and what it says about us and about our relationships with each other and with a Higher Power just what or who we cry out to in those moments, and what we say. Any person who is on a spiritual journey who has felt those moments would relate to these poems.
How long did it take to write?
Poetry collections are written in pieces, and some of the included poems were written in high school. So for everything to fall into place? About four-five years. But each poem takes only five minutes. These just happened to be pretty important five-minute moments.
Five minutes? Surely that’s an exaggeration?
If anything, it’s an over-exaggeration. I’ve always written things quickly. With poems, I rarely work on them for more than five minutes. If I don’t like the poem the first time, I scrap it and keep what verses I did like in my head until they will be of use later. If I like the poem, it will stay the way it is and it will either get published (with a maximum of one or two lines deleted) or only be liked my me. I’m very much a crash and burn kind of poet. It’s not that I don’t work on it, though- I may only spend less than five minutes on a single poem, but I will write around five to ten poems a day when I’m in a creative mood. I write more than a hundred poems a year at minimum. I can only think of one time when I specifically broke this routine, and that’s when I forced myself to write a free-flow verse for an entire class period my freshman year of college.
Sounds like it comes naturally to you. What is the most challenging part of the whole thing?
Letting go of it. I would start these poems in a horribly abrasive place, and it honestly would take all of my willpower not to just keep yelling at the sky, so to speak. But that’s not where the verses wanted me to go. For me to get anything out of them, I had to let the words guide me. That’s when the good stuff really flowed out.
Is there a poem that is indicative of your style?
This was first published online in the MOLT journal, and included in my not-yet-published manuscript, Mti Wangu, about my trip to Kakamega, Kenya.
It’s beautiful. Tell us a bit about you.
I’m currently 20 years old, beginning my senior year of college in Denver, Colorado. I have lived here all my life. My biggest inspirations are my family- my mother, father, and five siblings. My biggest dream is to become a mother, and I believe that becoming a writer is just one step that I am taking in that direction. I want to be able to leave my children something to believe in.
Have you got a blog where we can keep up with your work? Where can we follow you on Facebook and/or Twitter?
I have a Facebook Page at facebook.com/akoneval that I try to update at least once a day, and my Twitter handle is @ambermoment.
Where can we buy your book?
I’m going to be releasing the first installment of my ‘Once Upon a Reality’ series under my fiction alias, Elizabeth Rose. These woman’s fiction novels use the fairy-tales told to us in our girlhood in order to release us from many of the woman’s issues today that are swept under the rug- from domestic violence to post-partum depression, autism in women and celibacy in a secular age. In poetry, I’m still looking for a publisher for my next collection of poetry ‘Mti Wangu’, which is a collection of poetry written while I was in Kenya on a missions trip, after just contracting typhoid. I also have a couple more manuscripts, both religious and secular, waiting to be polished off before being submitted to the public. I’m always writing!