Interview #14: Diane Callahan

Diane Callahan (she/her) strives to capture her sliver of the universe through writing poetry, non-fiction, and fantasy. As a developmental editor and ghostplotter, she spends her days shaping stories. Her YouTube channel, Quotidian Writer, provides practical tips for aspiring authors. 

Diane's poem, minor mysteries, was published for blood orange's upright Ace of Cups card on February 29, 2020.

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What drew you to submit your work to blood orange?

I gravitated toward creating a poem that was in conversation with something as visual and meaningful as tarot. After all, readers will likely have their own preconceived notions about particular cards. But poetry adds another layer, a new way of viewing the familiar. I also loved the idea of poems short enough to fit on the back of a card, as small poems often feel like pocket-sized wishes or meditations.

What poets have influenced the way you write?

Currently, my biggest influences are Maggie Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Oliver, and Philip Schultz, all of whom I value for their narrative-style poetry. They capture flashes of feeling in a simple turn of phrase or a precise image, and I aim to do the same in my poem "minor mysteries". I believe in the power of the vignette, which so many of my favorite poems use, such as Tara Skurtu's "Morning Love Poem" and Laura Gilpin's "The Two-Headed Calf".

What are you currently working on?

Fiction is my first love, so I'm writing a middle-grade fantasy novel as well as several short stories across various genres, including fantasy, romance, horror, and literary absurdism. In terms of poetry, I'm in a "reading period" right now, where I want to absorb as many poetry collections and guides as possible so I can improve my craft before embarking on a larger poetry project. One of my near-future goals is to read one hundred poetry collections. I also want to branch out and write more "speculative" poems, as I'm drawn to the intersection between the poetic and the fantastic.

Do you have a favourite tarot or oracle deck?

The Prisma Visions Tarot is absolutely gorgeous, with each card being its own work of art. The cards connect to form a larger picture, and I could seriously stare at them for hours.

Do you feel a particular connection to the card your poem is published under?

The Ace of Cups in the upright position signifies new beginnings filled with love, happiness, and fulfillment. It's often depicted as a chalice overflowing with water. I chose this suit as a vehicle for expressing 'ace' or asexual identity, since the essence of the card relates to romantic relationships. Looking at that traditional imagery and meaning in tandem, I thought of how society perceives physical versus romantic attraction. Although the two often intertwine, they can also be examined as separate components of one's identity, which is what I hoped to express in my re-imagining of the overflowing chalice.  

Can you name a poet/press/project you think more people should know about?

TL;DR Press is dedicated to publishing short story anthologies by emerging and established authors, with all proceeds for the collections going toward a deserving charity. For example, the Shades of Pride LGBTQIA+ collection benefits True Colors United, a charity dedicated to fighting homelessness in the queer youth community.

I'm not part of the editorial board, but I do participate in the Teal Deer community, and I greatly enjoy the literary conversation and support I've found there. One of my short stories, Cream of You, was also published in their NOPE horror anthology, which benefits the Pilcrow Foundation, a group that provides children’s books to rural public libraries across the U.S. 

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