Sarah Mintz holds an MA from the University of Regina. Her debut short story collection was released in May of 2021 with Radiant Press.
She has had work published with Book*hug Press, JackPine Press, APOCALYPSE
CONFIDENTIAL, Sea & Cedar, Agnes and True, and the
University of Regina’s [space] Journal. She currently lives in Coleman
Alberta with a man she met on the internet.
1 - How did your first
book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to
your previous? How does it feel different?
told this story before, but I’ve never written it down. By now, it’s probably
been twisted into something that has no relationship to reality, but we’ll
When I was in grade one, the
teacher announced that there would be a “Blue Day.” Everyone should wear or
bring a blue item and get some kind of prize or award. My mother and I dyed the
eggs on my fried egg sandwich blue. Every piece of clothing I wore was blue. I
had blue bobbles in my hair.
On Blue Day, each child was
awarded one star, which was stuck to a piece of loose leaf taped to the wall,
for wearing or having blue on or around them. I was never promised more than
one star, but my eggs were blue! No one else had blue eggs.
In sum, I really liked that
guy in Anna Karenina who wrote a book that no one cared about. My books are my
blue eggs; I’m a try-hard Koznyshev.
2 - How did you come to
poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
always written things down and regarded them privately as brilliant, and then
after having hoarded the scraps of written things for days, months, or years,
burnt them in a fury of embarrassment, because they are not brilliant.
In 2017-ish, I enrolled at the University of
Regina for a Masters of English Literature and Creative Writing, in an attempt
to fulfill some promise I hoped I had. My teachers were brilliant. The works I
was exposed to were brilliant. I was humbled. And also, I learned some stuff
about poetry and writing stories.
So I suppose, I came to
writing through diaries, love notes, and lies to my penpals, and I came to
structure (form: poetry, fiction) through school.
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?
think my writing projects come from a bunch of places. Sometimes I free-write
to generate ideas. From that, I occasionally get a phrase or idea that I can
rework. Sometimes I just like the sound of a phrase and I want to make it into
a thing that’s as good as that initial phrase. For example, I misheard someone
who was telling me a story last week. He was talking about his friend Lorenzo
and I thought he said Enzo. “Enzo?” I asked.
“Lorenzo,” he said.
“Nobody liked Enzo
Lorenzo.” I thought. And I’d like to make a story that amuses me as much as
that line, “Nobody liked Enzo Lorenzo.” In the movie version Enzo Lorenzo would
be played by John Turturro.
Also, other times, I will
encounter something bizarre or forgotten and think that this ridiculousness
cannot be lost! Or like, I have to make the thing known in the very way that I
see it; it has to amuse others the way it amuses me. Maybe this is the goal. Anyway,
it’s pretty hard.
4 - Where does a poem or
work of 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?
am always writing towards the end. Usually it comes very soon, and I suspect
that’s because I’m impatient. But sometimes so much happens between the start
and the end that it’s been thousands of words or hundreds of pages before a
proper end shows itself. And then, after I have the start and the end and the
way from one to the other, I have to go back and rearrange everything.
5 - Are public readings
part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who
enjoys doing readings?
used to go to poetry readings in my early 20s, but I had a terribly
romantic-tragic idea of what a poet was supposed to be then, and those years
are best left forgotten, or else, told in some rollicking self-abasing memoir.
This new phase of writing and
trying to participate has taken place largely during COVID, so, on Zoom, with
many heads and glitches. A real-life meeting seems cool though. Where do all
the poets hang out these days?
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
have theoretical musings! But not concerns.
In Ladies & Gentlemen...Mr. Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen answered
an interviewer who asked, “What do you care about, really?”
He said, “When I get up in the
morning my real concern is to discover whether or not I’m in a state of grace.
And if I make that investigation and I discover that I’m not in a state of
grace, I try to go to bed… A state of grace is that kind of balance, with which
you ride the chaos that you find around you. It’s not a matter of resolving the
chaos because there’s something arrogant and warlike about putting the world in
order, but having that kind of… like an escaped ski, down over a hill, just
going through the contours.”
7 – What do you see the current role of
the writer being in larger culture? Do they even have one? What do you think
the role of the writer should be?
suppose, I think art is a corrupting force. Like junk food. Art is something
that hijacks our emotional capability, like sugar is something that hijacks our
sense of the sweetness of fruit. Art is emotional MSG.
8 - Do you find the
process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
thought it would be awful! I hate to be criticized, as do most babies. However,
in practice, I’ve found working with an editor incredibly necessary and
valuable. It’s very difficult to write with just your imagined or ideal
audience in mind. An editor helps you see your blind spots.
9 - What is the best
piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
mother always said that life was about eating and watching TV. I disagreed with
the hedonist for a long time, but now I’m coming around.
10 - How easy has it been
for you to move between genres (poetry to short stories to the novella)? What
do you see as the appeal?
easy. My prose is often dense and flowery. I yell, “If this was a poem, you’d
decipher it!” into the abyss.
The appeal with writing short
things is that you can take them in all at once! It’s easier and faster (not
*always* but often) to tell if something is working in a shorter piece. It’s a
real gamble to write 100,000 words and then go back to edit it and be like,
“Oh, it’s bad. It makes no sense.” But you gotta do it. Don’t wimp out. Maybe
you’ll write the next Miss MacIntosh, My
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?
has time to write! What with the three jobs and eating and such! I will put a
note on my to-do list for weeks, “read, write.” But it usually comes after
chores and errands. Or else, I have neglected the housework and sit in the dust
and dirty clothes with a broken laptop and type quick! to catch up with the
last three weeks of thoughts. It’s not that many thoughts. I can usually get
them out in a day of doing nothing else.
12 - When your writing
gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word)
read hard things. I try to get through my long list of classics. Usually, I
will be inspired by people much smarter than me. If I’m discouraged by people
much smarter than me, then I read the comment section anywhere.
13 - What fragrance
reminds you of home?
rootless fool! I have no home. My parents were military and we lived all over.
Though sometimes when I walk in a dry pine-needly forest, I think of Nova
Scotia, where I live for a while.
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?
think McFadden’s got something there. But also, science is pretty cool. I like
15 - What other writers
or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your
like weirdos. Daniil Kharms, Donald Barthelme, Lydia Davis (sometimes), Max Apple, Stanley Elkin, I think Faulkner was pretty weird sometimes too. Ooh,
Sherwood Anderson. I guess I like to imagine that they’re my people. Or like,
“If they can get away with that, I can get away with this.”
16 - What would you like
to do that you haven't yet done?
like to write something that resonates.
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?
was a great article in GQ a few years back about a hermit who used to steal
snacks from nearby cottages.
18 - What made you write,
as opposed to doing something else?
that is the question.
19 - What was the last
great book you read? What was the last great film?
Para-Social relationships in Media, Society, and Celebrity Culture by Chris Rojeck:
“By the illusion of cybernetic togetherness, through the media and the
para-social union of watchers that it supports, plus the event diet concocted
by the media, cannot overcome the inner reality of cybernetic solitude. The
latter is at the emotional heart of market-based forms of organization. In the
end, under the market form, we live and die, alone together.” haha
Also a good one from Presumed Intimacy
“Social outcomes are the result of tacit, complex judgements in which an
underlying pattern is deciphered out of a temporally qualified succession of
The last great film I watched was Ikiru
The finest film about bureaucracy ever made?
20 - What are you
currently working on?
recently finished a novella about parasocial relationships, for which I
received a surprise grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts. Now, I have
to find a publisher to impress the government!
mentorship with CSARN!
sell flowers in the mountains!
sell junk on the internet!
May, we will go see the wild horses in Sundre.
like to start a small press! I “learned” HTML for this: https://minorworksofdeath.neocities.org/
(get in touch if you wanna help! if you wanna submit! if! if! if!)
12 or 20 (second series) questions;