Michael Prihoda was born and still resides in the Midwest. He is the founding/managing editor of After the Pause literary magazine and is the author of the chapbook “In Another Life, Maybe” (Weasel Press, 2015). He tweets @michaelprihoda and blogs at michaelprihoda.wordpress.com.
Geosi Gyasi: You’re often regarded as a poet and writer. Are you a poet or writer?
Michael Prihoda: Both I guess. I write poetry, but I also write flash and experimental forms that aren’t really poetry. I probably consider myself a poet first, but the terminology is a bit arbitrary for me.
Geosi Gyasi: How long have you been writing?
Michael Prihoda: Since I was sixteen.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you regard as the challenges of writing?
Michael Prihoda: All of it. I love having a finished product but I kind of hate the effort in sitting down to actually produce something. Revisions and rewriting are particularly tough for me, which is why I rarely do much if anything to a piece of my finished writing. That, and the fact it takes enormous gumption, planning, and emotional resources to write long-form novels and such, are why I generally work in poetry and flash. If the poem I create isn’t good enough, I try to create another one. I’ve loads of unused and probably unusable poems and stories lying around. They were necessary for growth and development but are probably worthless from a literary standpoint.
Geosi Gyasi: You are a professional writing major at Taylor University. Why did you decide to go to Taylor University to study professional writing?
Michael Prihoda: I went because I thought the program sounded unique compared to a traditional English/Lit major at a different university. The program emphasized getting work published starting as a freshman, which I did. Overall, I’ve had some unique opportunities because of the program, but I’ve also made a ton of my own opportunities as well.
Geosi Gyasi: Which teachers have had greater influence on your writing?
Michael Prihoda: My brother. His influence initially got me interested in writing and his support has been invaluable in helping me not give up.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
Michael Prihoda: Perhaps like a nice mug of tea and a scone, I mostly hope to make people’s days a little better when they read what I’ve written. Or maybe provoke thought. Or help keep people interested in poetry and literature generally.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you keep a strict writing schedule?
Michael Prihoda: Not at all. I’ve tried. It never lasts long. But I am always ready to take notes, ready to observe or record something that I think would make a good poem, a good line, something.
Geosi Gyasi: Are you a great reader?
Michael Prihoda: Sometimes. Sometimes not. Depends on what else is going on.
Geosi Gyasi: How do you begin a poem?
Michael Prihoda: Usually with a thought, an idea for a line, something small that I coax into as many lines as I can before it sputters out.
Geosi Gyasi: Have you ever been rejected for your works?
Michael Prihoda: All the time.
Geosi Gyasi: Are you a fan of short poems?
Michael Prihoda: I love short things. My reading attention span has decreased in recent years. But I also just love the idea of being changed by something small, something I can reread twice within a minute. I’ve been let down by 500 page books, so I think it’s incredible when something that is only four lines long could matter more to me than an epic bildungsroman or something.
However, I’m wary of the idea that short forms will become the norm from a wholly consumerist leaning, but at least in this stage of my life, I’m more interested in small pockets of beauty than something grand and sweeping. With short forms (much like with visual art), the reader gets to choose how much time to spend with a piece instead of the author dictating that you must spend 10+ hours with something just to finish it. With short things, there is an inexplicable sense of never-being-finished and yet having already consummated the transaction with such brevity.
Now, of course, short poems can be as poorly written as anything, so the effect isn’t always there.
Geosi Gyasi: What inspired your book, “In Another Life, Maybe”?
Michael Prihoda: Pain.
Geosi Gyasi: What challenge(s) did you face in writing “In Another Life, Maybe”?
Michael Prihoda: It felt easy to write. The hard part was questioning whether I’d produced anything worthwhile that had any purpose beyond my own mind. It’s something I still question, even though it recently released.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you get “In Another Life, Maybe” published?
Michael Prihoda: I got lucky. I found a publisher whose ethos jived with my own and who were willing to accept unsolicited manuscripts without a reading fee. They were the first publisher I’d sent it to.
Geosi Gyasi: Are there any books that have influenced you as a writer?
Michael Prihoda: Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. It may seem odd that these are my literary foundations considering I have swayed into shorter forms nowadays (seeing as both of those books combined are nearly 2000 pages) but their writing style and sense of humanity instilled the power of carefully crafted words in me. They are books in which, for me, nothing happens and yet everything happens, serving as a perfect reflection of life for me.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you regard as your greatest achievement as a writer?
Michael Prihoda: Thus far, publishing my first chapbook “In Another Life, Maybe” with Weasel Press.
Geosi Gyasi: What are you literary hopes for the future?
Michael Prihoda: I hope to keep publishing things, keep sharing work with the world, keep connecting with other writers, keep building a better literary community for everyone currently and those who will come after us.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you often do in your spare time?
Michael Prihoda: I run the literary magazine After the Pause along with its small press imprint a…p press. I love being an editor as much as being a writer. When I’m not doing that, I’m probably watching Modern Family.