Tuesday, March 09, 2010

12 or 20 questions: with Sandra Doller

Sandra Doller's new name is Sandra Doller. Her first book Oriflamme (Ahsahta Press 2005, published under her former name, Sandra Miller) was a word featured in the 2009 National Spelling Bee, yet was written 6 years before that bee. Coincidence? Her second book, Chora, is hot off the roller, also from Ahsahta. Doller is the founder & editrice of the serendipitously named 1913 a journal of forms/1913 Press. She lives all over with her man and their pups.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

My life had already changed. & I hope my work keeps changing with my life, not vice versa. I would be plum sorry if my art impacted my life as opposed to the other way around…

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

I come to poetry at last, if I come to poetry at all. No seriously, I tried everything seriously everything else first: drugs, performance art, travel, hitchhiking, the banjo, water-sculpting…

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 don’t start writing projects. I apologize that all my answers are negations. No they’re not. Yes they are. My writing is notes, a rehearsal.

4 - Where does a poem or prose 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?

I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever written one poem.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

I like to do readings, but I hate to do them as myself. Most poetry readings make me want to run to another art form, one that involves knives. There are exceptions.

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?

Theoretical concerns are in front of my writing. The Wubba to my dog. I think the current questions are impossible to answer, which is what makes them fascinating in the first place.

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 current writer competes with TV. Poorly. Something needs to compete poorly with TV. I think the writer should make people want to do something other than write.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

Nothing could be more difficult or essential than working with the inside editor.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

Buckle up. I am newly afraid of highways after moving to California. In terms of writing, I guess the opposite advice would ring true: Unbuckle. Down. People are usually sorry when they give me advice. See?

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to prose, or even, translation)? What do you see as the appeal?

I don’t believe in genres. Honestly, I don’t even teach genres as separate, which makes my teaching impossible.

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 write emails. Otherwise, I get a summer.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

Outside myself.

13 - What do you really want?

A chocolate ice cream on a sugar cone with chocolate sprinkles that’s perfectly melted and no more. Either that or Time. Time not wasted on the computer. It’s a tie there.

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?

I don’t know who David W. McFadden is, but I’d like to read his book. My work is influenced, I hope, by other forms first and then books. And lots of things that don’t translate into books—like Bob Dylan and Joan Fontaine.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

I once dreamt that I was hosting the Oscars, but I’d forgotten to prepare. It was around the time I was newly married to my man Ben, and his mom Connie, my mother-in-law, she thought it was really funny that I thought I was hosting the Oscars. But I didn’t think it was funny, I thought it was stressful, really a lot of pressure.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

Where do I sign up?

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 don’t really think I am a writer. I have a job as a professor. That’s what I spend my time doing. Is writing an occupation anymore? I ask that earnestly. I’d like to sing Fado. Or be integrally involved in a revolution.

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

Actually, it’s a fight to write, as opposed to doing everything else. All those other things have to get done. Or do they? Seriously I think I might have loggorhea…is that what it’s called? Yes, I think writing is a disease.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

I’m reading Clarice Lispector’s biography, Why This World by Benjamin Moser. I’ll probably never finish it at the rate I’m going. She would make a great film, so I’d like to see that.

20 - What are you currently working on?

Man Years.

12 or 20 questions (second series);


Anonymous said...

this will be the dumbest comment, i know, but i can't tell if it's really ballsy or kind of backward that sandra changed her last name when she got married. it's so...19th century. especially after already publishing a book under her maiden name.

Anonymous said...

never mind! i get the name change now. nicely done, sandra and ben! even better than keeping the maiden name.