Julie Joosten grew up in Marietta, GA and lives in Toronto. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a PhD from Cornell University; her first book Light Light was published by Book Thug in 2013.
1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
When I first read this question, I didn't know how to respond because my first book so completely cracked open the world for me--but I didn't read "my first book" as "the first book I wrote" but as "the first book I remember reading"! The first book I wrote, Light Light, hasn't changed my life too much. It's put me in contact with people I don't know who've read the book; and I'm grateful for that, for the way books allow minds to extend into the world.
2 - How did you come to poetry first as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I didn't come to poetry first, but when I first came to poetry I loved the sounds above all.
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?
My writing is slow and emerges after periods of incubation and then gets reworked regularly until I come to the rare feeling that it's done.
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?
Poems usually begin for me in reading. I don't know what I'm working on until I'm working on it. And working on it again and again.
5 - 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 have many concerns, some theoretical, some practical, that lead me to write. In my work, I try to ask questions more than I try to answer them.
6– 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?
To write. To imagine. To rewrite. To reimagine.
7 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
My editors at Book Thug have been essential.
8 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
I find different forms of thinking and feeling occur in different forms of rhythm, syntax and language. Moving between genres is a way of moving between forms of thinking and feeling. And the between-ness is itself exciting and generative. I love encountering different forms of language and thought brought together by chance or design. This can happen between two books I'm reading or between the beginning and end of a sentence.
9 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
With a dog walk, thus with weather. Then tea, and reading, and note-taking, then exercise, dog walk, tea, reading, and more notes.
10 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I Read, I walk, and sometimes I find myself down on the floor looking for a word.
11 - What was your favourite Hallowe'en costume?
When I was five, my great-aunt—Aunt Yo-Yo—made me a costume of grapes in royal purple.
12 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
12 or 20 (second series) questions;