Tuesday evening, the Writers’ Community hosted their annual Gala Winners’ Reading featuring Ashely Ford and Joseph Samaniego. In honor of this reading we invited each winner to provide a short interview and profile. You can read Ashley’s profile interview here, and continue reading below to see our next feature on winner Joseph Samaniego.

*Photo taken and provided by Joseph Samaniego

It has been speculated that Joseph Samaniego has powers of astral projection, which would explain his excessive sleeping, and which he uses to keep us all safe from… whatever it is you encounter on the astral plane. When not dealing with inter-planar matters, he’s content as a second-year undergrad of Ball State, studying literature and philosophy.

Can you tell me a little bit about the type or genre of writing you do most prominently? Further, do you recall developing an initial interest in this form of writing?

Generally, I have always had an affinity for and desire to affiliate myself with poetry, even if in the most Romantic sense of the word. As I recall, my first notable experience with poetry was – as I imagine is the case with many people – in middle school, when my 6th grade English teacher Mrs. Knight included in the poetry unit the chance to choose a pre-existing poem to recite as well as to compose our own. After composing my first poem, I was hooked, and began writing on my own time, hoping to – with my very limited expressive ability at the time – capture the nuances of that complex beast which is early teen-hood. Certainly, as can be the enemy of many young, aspiring artists’ egos, this situation was not helped by the uncritical support of friends to whom I would show my immature verse.

Each of you are engaged in Ball State’s creative writing program. Can you tell me how your education has affected your evolution as a writer and how you envision (or what you hope from) your future as a writer?

 My education heretofore and my experience with the writing program has, more than anything else, altered and expanded my notions of what poetry, and, more generally creative writing, can be and is all about (as contrasted with what notions I had coming into college).  Where I’d like my writing career to go is… anywhere really. My future plans aren’t dependent upon any success through my writing endeavors, but I do foresee writing to be a major part of whatever life I meet after graduating college. A publication or two would be nice.

Each of you has a very distinct voice and I would love to hear about where you draw inspiration. How are each of your pieces conceived and then consequently developed?

For me, though I sometimes like to entertain the Romantic notions of what poetry and being a poet is, my creative process tends to be more or less the antithesis of the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” which Wordsworth classically describes. While I try not to overlook the necessity of underlying emotion, the works of mine that I tend to like the best are those which are structured by a synthesis of ideas which are compelling to me: whether they derive from literature, philosophy, history, or elsewhere. Basically, being a bookish person, my writing tends to likewise be bookish, which may not be the case as time progresses. Also, I typically envision the formal aspects or abstract underpinnings of a work long before figuring out how to incorporate narrative, character, etc.

Finally, if there is anything, can you share what you find particularly challenging about your writing process? How do continuously overcome this challenge to produce new work?

The most difficult thing about the writing process is – especially considering the steps I described above – merely figuring out what to write about, as well as making a structure and idea-based expression compelling on a level which isn’t highfalutin or stale. To (attempt to) overcome this, I simply do what writers before me have done: I read, live, and hope – sometimes too much so – for inspiration to hit.

-Interview conducted by Tyler Fields