Tianna Hansen: This collection, Flowers of the Flesh, is your first full-length; how did it feel putting this together? How did it compare to creating your chapbook, Bloodmilk?
Effy Winter: Writing Flowers of the Flesh was painful and wearying. I poured my blood into this collection and spent many hours overcome with illness from the sentiments that were purging from my heart, but I knew that I had to write this book. My chapbook, Bloodmilk, focuses more on sex and ritual than it does love, but that body of work is what provoked the creation of Flowers of the Flesh—which was particularly challenging to write because it is a confessional collection of love letters.
TH: The poetry is all kept to a style of minimalism in this collection, giving it an almost jolting feeling, full of a rawness and sincerity that seeps from the pages. Can you tell us a little more about what inspired you to write this?
EW: Flowers of the Flesh began blooming from my heart many years ago after a tragic romantic parting, but it was only this year that I felt I could write this novel. I indulged in wrath for quite some time to cope with loss—it was wicked, plaguing my heart and veiling it black until one evening I found myself surrendering to grief. Flowers of the Flesh is an outpouring of the devastating passion I’ve been carrying and a testament of the perpetual fire that burns within my heart.
TH: What is your writing process? I’ve heard you speak a little about this before from your feature in the Sonnetarium, but I think your process applies so much to such a personal piece as this collection. How do you feel about this?
EW: I wrote Flowers of the Flesh with a heavy heart bloodied with witchcraft. As I mentioned in my interview with Kristin Garth, I can only write in the darkness by candlelight, and witchcraft plays a very significant role throughout the birth of my poetry. For me personally, crafting literature is a ritual in itself. While writing Flowers of the Flesh, I was summoning the sinful parts of my heart, and with them came a bloodbath of love, romance and passion—the darkest of Hell’s flowers which you will find flourishing within every page.
TH: Tell us more about the collection coming from Rhythm & Bones Press in January.
EW: Flowers of the Flesh is a dark, erotic and deeply romantic body of work unveiling the apparitions that linger after the death of a tragic love. It reads as a collection of love letters to a man who had once offered me his heart. This poetry novel is for the hopeless romantics and those who were born of fire. It is filled with witchcraft and unholy prayer.
TH: We are stunned by this collection. It is original and fresh, unlike anything we have read before. Unflinching and bold, evocative and seductive. Did you meditate on a certain emotion as you wrote this?
EW: No—I have always been an innately passionate woman—severely sensual and possessed by affairs of the heart. I carry ceaseless romance like an illness. I lie down and bleed for it—attach myself to it like a leech to flesh. This is my cross to bear. My inability to suppress my longing for lust, darkness and a devastating love that swallows me whole is why I began writing. Flowers of the Flesh was spawned by love, tragedy and a sultry fire that rages inside of me; the lush flame that crafted me into the woman that I am.
TH: How does witchcraft factor into your novel?
EW: Witchcraft carried Flowers of the Flesh through blood and hellflame allowing it its first petaled inhale. The romantic poetry in this collection was birthed within the oldest and most consecrated of dwellings and was summoned through the art of dark ritual. Blood, romance and consummation are passions that have bonded the witches within my lineage to the dark divine for centuries. While this body of work is a testament of the love and fire that lies inside of my heart, it is also an offering to my creator.
TH: What made you decide on the style for this book? You do not include titles on the poems, so they all flow together as a single story, a bloodline if you will. Was this your intention? How do you envision the poems working off each other?
EW: The poems in Flowers of the Flesh have all been summoned from the delicate depths of my heart—they are love letters; exorcised demons. These creatures have all been born with each other and were nurtured within one womb—I did not want to separate them in any way. It is uncommon for me to title a piece because I want it to respire on its own, and with this collection, it was very important that I did not craft a cage around my words. These poems are a bloodletting carrying an intimate attachment to each other—infuriating, pacifying and romancing one another. They were born to set fire to every heart they bleed into.
TH: What do you want your audience to take away from Flowers of the Flesh?
EW: If the reader were to take anything away from this passionate collection, I would hope that they would come to feel that a love born of heaven, hell and flame is sacred and worth burning for.
About the Author
Effy Winter is a poet and witch from Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019) and Bloodmilk (Dancing Girl Press, 2019). Her romantic poetry appears in Angelical Ravings, Rose Quartz Journal and Rust & Moth, among other literary publications. Effy currently works as a writer for Witch Way Magazine where you will find her articles about traditional and hereditary witchcraft. Find out more about her at https://effywinter.com.
Order an annotated and signed copy of Effy Winter’s Flowers of the Flesh, here.