1 - How did your first book change your life?
It ruined it.
2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I like poetry best because it provides the possibility for the other two.
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?
It takes only as long as writing some words. It’s often fast; sometimes I see whole poems, at least as their formal concepts, at once, and sometimes I hear poems like songs, and sometimes I assemble poems out of scrap materials.
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?
It’s different, just depends.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I haven’t given a reading in a long time because I got cancer, but when I used to give them, I’d begun the practice of making new pieces for each setting.
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?
This is a funny question.
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?
I think the real enemy of a just arrangement of the world is not the class of people who stay up all night talking about ideas and waving their hands. We sometimes just think it is because we are the sorts of people who stay up all night talking about ideas and waving our hands.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Turn your mourning dress and broomstick into a black flag. “you only live once / a fog in our eyes.” Exercise. “I celebrate myself in poetry / like someone who celebrates their wedding with a knife.”
10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
Very easy. I want to write everything, and then invent new things to write.
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 wake up in the morning and I write.
12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Cicadas in August.
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?
15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Literature’s misogynists, king-lickers, cop-apologists, crypto-racists, ideology-swallowers, vain-jerks, sons-of-the-rich, and pro-capitalists continue to inspire me.
16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
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?
18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
The uncollected poems of Miyo Vestrini, which I’m translating with Cassandra Gillig for a Venezuelan small press, is just so good. Here’s a sample:
ONE DAYAs far as movies, Cassandra and I saw the Terminator movie in Cuenca, Ecuador, this summer, and people were laughing at jokes we couldn't get.
you shall be
the girl with the slumped shoulders
Do not try
of the ordinary.
20 - What are you currently working on?
A nonfiction book about cancer and the politics of care.
12 or 20 (second series) questions;