Sara Sutterlin's most recent book is Baveuse. Published by Electric Cereal. She's on twitter @pissbb. Her website is here.
1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different? It felt nice to be ackowledged by publishers. I wrote I Wanted To Be The Knife when I was in love and being very performative about it, but it still has a certain darkness. People use the word sharp a lot when writing about it, whatever that means. Baveuse is different in that I hope it acheives something a little more refined. It's a little more grown up.
2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction? There's a freedom to poetry that you just do not have with fiction and non-fiction. There are too many guidelines with that kind of writing. I have written some fiction, short stories mostly, which I like and want to publish someday, but feel drastically less confident about than my poetry. Poetry is something that demands to be played with and that's why I love it.
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 depends. Again, because it's poetry, I think it moves a lot faster. My writing process is fairly simple. I usually collect notes, going over and editing them but it's not a drawn out process where I'm agonizing over a poem for days and days. I have written poems in minutes, and that's the beauty of poetry, that it happens in an instant and you can write it and then be done with it. There's a lot of small re-births I think, which I like. I like distancing myself from what I write moments after writing it.
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 depends, but mostly out of short pieces, or even just certain words. I've also worked from screenshots and notes I've taken on movies, certain color schemes or mundane details (Charlotte York from SATC flipping perfectly cooked eggs in a blue kitchen).
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings? I generally dislike them. I have a habit of reading in a voice that's slightly different than my own (either lower, or higher) to distance myself from the audience and my work.
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? I don't think I do, not questions, anyway. I have themes I like to explore. I write about sex and the relation between sex and death. Also, class, marriage.
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 writer should write, release, write. That's it. That's the cycle. Have a voice, cultivate it, work on it, speak it. I think anything beyond that is masturbatory.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)? Both.
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)? I hate this question, I'm sorry.
10 - 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 write everyday, sometimes it's just note taking on my iphone, sometimes I finish a poem.
11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration? I listen to women talk.
12 - What fragrance reminds you of home? Coffee, onions cooking, cigarettes.
13 - 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? Yes, absolutely. Architecture, houses, spaces in which we live, suburbia inspire and influence my work greatly. I'm also very influenced by porn culture, and celebrity culture. Basketball, too, for some reason.
14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work? I could, but I don't want to. There are a lot. There. That's vaguely generous.
15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done? Write erotica. Write a thriller.
16 - 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 have always thought that being a detective, and I don't mean a cop detective, I mean a rogue, tough, independent detective is the sexiest and coolest job in the world. I think I could do it. I think about it a lot.
17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else? I wrote, illustrated and put together a book when I was six. I don't know, some shit you can't help. I am too mentally ill and crippled by a self involved need to write to do anything else.
18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film? Everyone lies when answering this question and I am too tired to lie right now. Pass.
19 - What are you currently working on? I'm working on a third book, but that's still in the earliest stages possible. Molly Soda and I are also curating, I guess is the word, a book of artists covering other artist's work in their own medium, which is a big project I'm pretty excited about.