Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Mary Kasimor

Mary Kasimor has most recently been published in Yew Journal, Big Bridge, MadHat, Horse Less Review, Altered Scale, Word For/Word, Posit, Otoliths, EOAGH, and The Missing Slate. She has three previous books and/or chapbook publications: Silk String Arias (BlazeVox Books), & Cruel Red (Otoliths), and The Windows Hallucinate (LRL Textile Series).  She has a new collection of poetry published in 2014, entitled The Landfill Dancers (BlazeVox  Books). She also writes book reviews that have been published in Jacket, Big Bridge, Galatea Resurrects, and Gently Read Literature. She considers her work experimental—both her poetry and ink/water colors.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
My first book or chapbook did not really change my life. It was exciting in a way, but each time I begin a poem I feel as though I am writing  for the first time. What I am saying is that it didn’t increase my sense that I had “made it” in anyway.

My work has become more experimental and organic than my earlier poems, even though I was moving in that direction even with my first book.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I wanted to be able to write quickly, and that is easier to do with poetry than fiction or non-fiction. I also feel closer to the spirit of poetry, and it is more magical to me. It is also more visual than fiction and non-fiction, and my poetry is visual.

I did not read much fiction for a long time because I wasn’t very interested in fiction. I now enjoy and read novels and non-fiction. I read non-fiction that is philosophical or scientific.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

I rarely procrastinate when I begin a project. One reason for that is because my writing is usually very spontaneous. It is difficult for me to decide to write about a specific idea or theme, and as a result, my writing is about what is on my mind at the moment. In the chapbook entitled Duplex, I wrote about my children and how I related to them. That book is not as interesting to me as my other books and chapbook because it was somewhat planned and focused. I think that my writing is best when I am not focused on a theme or idea or even style.

My drafts change during the course of my writing. I first write in a notebook and revise in a notebook. Then I transfer it to a computer and revise over and over again. The revision process is important in my writing.

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
A poem begins with something that I am usually thinking about. Sometimes a line is very random and that is the beginning of a poem. It is rare for me to work on a “book” from the beginning. I want to be able to explore ideas, words, images, sounds, and I don’t want to be limited by structure or theme.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I don’t do many readings. I am always concerned that people will either dislike or not understand my poetry. I think that my poetry is better read than listened to by an audience.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
In my poetry I am trying to get into the essence of where we as humans began and how we fit with other sentient or non-sentient matter. Several years ago I read Lynn Margulis’ essays on evolution and I found them fascinating. I continue to try to understand her theories through my poetic form.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
The writer should be telling people what they don’t want to hear about themselves—the cruel and ugly and stupid, and also the surprisingly wonderful things about being alive and/or human.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
Since the editors whom I’ve worked with have given me complete freedom, I do not find it difficult working with an outside editor. The editors have been from small presses, and maybe that is why I feel that I have a great deal of freedom.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
When I was working on my MA in English, I was planning to write a thesis on Deconstruction as it applied to Barbara Guest’s poetry. Several good friends advised me to write a creative thesis instead, and I decided to follow their advice—and it was good advice.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
In my opinion, writing both poetry and critical prose requires creativity and deep thinking. I do write reviews of poetry, and I have found that I become part of a creative process while I am writing it and throughout all my revisions, and there is something deeply satisfying about writing reviews. However, writing poetry is more creative and more difficult. 

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I try to write every day, and writing in the morning is the best time. My writing process is not terribly structured. I will leave the beginning of a draft, returning to it many times with new ideas.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I read other poets whose poetry I greatly admire. Several examples would be Anne Carson (of course) and Lyn Hejinian.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Lilacs remind me of Minnesota, which is where I grew up and consider home, even though I live in Washington now. It reminds me of home because lilacs bloom after a hard and cold winter.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Visual art and jazz influence my poetry. I love abstract art and the great jazz musicians (Coltrane, Davis, Parker…)

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
I enjoy reading books about science, as long as it is written for the non-scientist. I am catching up on many of the great novels—I just finished reading The Idiot.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
I would like to travel more. I also want to continue writing and writing.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I find science fascinating. If I had a scientific mind, I would have loved to go into research.

I taught writing and literature courses, and I usually looked forward to teaching.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

I loved music, but I realized my limitations. Writing poetry worked for me. I never know what I am going to do next, and that is part of the beauty of writing.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
I have read many great books, and the last great book that I read was The Idiot. The characters and situations that Dostoyevsky created were intriguing. His interpretation of human nature was ultimately tragic.

The last great film that I’ve seen was The Artist. I can only describe it as being charming and delightful. I have actually seen other great movies since The Artist, but this is one of my favorites.

20 - What are you currently working on?
I am working on a new chapbook, and I am letting the poems lead me. I don’t know what I will do with the chapbook once I am finished with it. Maybe someone will publish it or maybe it will just remain in my computer files.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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