Tuesday, March 05, 2019

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Katherine Osborne

Katherine Osborne is a writer in Massachusetts. She is the author of Fire Sign (2015) and Descansos (2018).

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
Fire Sign, 2015, was my first poetry collection. I started to take myself seriously when I saw my name on the cover of a book. I take my poems seriously or the work seriously but the reality set in that I can create something and follow through with it. It opened doors to more ideas and I could envision the end result more easily. Descansos, 2018, is also a collection with grief as the undercurrent but I lean toward surrealism in these poems. I take more chances and find that my voice works best when I take a chance.

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

Poetry is my first language. It’s how my mind works. I find power and freedom when I let myself become associative and climb up or down the ladder as far as it will go.

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’m not sure if it’s a weakness or strength, but my writing is a very quick process. I don’t take notes but that’s not off the table. The walk from first draft to last draft is not a long hallway.

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 one thought. It has an energy or vibration to it, and I know that thought wants to be turned into something more than itself, into the poem. I don’t think about the future of the poem while writing the poem.

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 read my poems to an audience but I’d love to do that.

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?
The reader comes to poetry with their own theoretical concerns and questions. The poem carries weight or influence when the writer/poet gets out of the way so that it’s the reader that is steering the poem. It’s not a lecture. It’s a forest/field/timeless. As a reader, my question is usually, Am I the only one that feels this way? I hope as a writer, my answer is heard, No, you’re not alone.

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 is an artist. The role of the artist is whatever the artist wants the role to be. Art is for everyone to create, be, interact, feel.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
It’s essential. Self-publishing is also a respectful and legitimate way to get your work out into the public but it’s essential to work with editors that respect your work.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
“You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, "Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep."   Frank O’Hara from, "Personism: A Manifesto”

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?  
When things are quiet, the writing day begins.

I make coffee and open up a document. There is a lot of staring out windows, getting up for a snack, and then sometimes just leaving to take a walk. Other days it’s easy.

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration? 
I take a walk or listen to music. I read Anne Carson.

12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
My childhood home was surrounded by Pine trees when I was very little. I remember coming home from town and all the trees had been cut down to make a clearing. The smell of pine in its most concentrated form.

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?
I love reading the bird sighting pages on Mass Audubon. Science and nature are the biggest influences on my work. I listen to a lot of music, too.

14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Kate Greenstreet, Anne Carson, Frank O’Hara. Alice Notley. So many writers and it changes from month to month.

15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Kayak on the Charles River. Write a memoir. Organize food drives for my community.

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 would love to be an elementary school guidance counselor.

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

This is a difficult question because I’ve been writing my entire life. It didn’t feel like something I chose. It chose me? Also, I'm a terrible artist. I would love to draw but I still make stick figures for people so..

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

I’m late on this but the last book I read, that I absolutely love is Lorrie Moore’s Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

19 - What are you currently working on?

I’m beginning a memoir. It will be the hardest project. I am not a linear writer/thinker so this is all about discipline and memory while staying honest with myself.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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