Friday, September 22, 2023

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Kimberly Reyes

Kimberly Reyes is the author of the poetry collections vanishing point. (Omnidawn 2023), Running to Stand Still (Omnidawn 2019), and the chapbook Warning Coloration (dancing girl press 2018). Her nonfiction chapbook of essays Life During Wartime (Fourteen Hills 2019) won the 2018 Michael Rubin Book Award. Her work is featured in various international outlets including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Associated Press, Entertainment Weekly,, The New York Post, The Village Voice, Alternative Press, ESPN the Magazine, Film Ireland, The Irish Examiner, Poetry London, Poetry Ireland, RTÉ Radio, NY1 News, The Irish Journal of American Studies, The Best American Poetry blog,, American Poets Magazine, The Feminist Wire, and The Stinging Fly. Kimberly has received fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Fulbright Program, CantoMundo, Callaloo, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Tin House Workshops, The Irish Arts Council, Culture Ireland, the Munster Literature Centre, the Prague Summer Program for Writers, Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya, Community of Writers, and other places.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
I didn’t, haha. Unless you win a major award it doesn’t really change your life and you realize you’re a writer so you keep writing. vanishing point. is similar to my previous work in that it represents significant years of my life -- I don’t pretend that my work isn’t mostly autobiographical. And It feels different from my first book in that it’s a bit more experimental in form.

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

I didnt come to poetry first, I was a journalist first so prose was and will always be my bread and butter, I for sure still write nonfiction. Poetry is just my true love that doesn’t pay. It keeps me sane, although I guess sanity is relative.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
Such a good question. It really depends on where I am mentally and readings serve as barometers for that. I can tell if I feel situated and if I have community by how comfortable I feel in a particular place and time at a reading. So sometimes I enjoy reading and sometimes I dont. And as far as my creative process I don’t really know if i connect giving readings to that but I am certainly inspired by hearing certain poets read.

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?
God yes. I mean what is this all for? Is the human condition worth it? Do we take these lesson with us? Does it all even out in the end or are all of these injustices meant to just eat at us until the end of time? Why why why?

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?
To try to make sense of things and to try to make this existence a bit more bearable for ourselves and for each other.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I absolutely LOVE working with editors! I think it’s such a privilege when someone takes you and your work seriously enough to engage with it in a meaningful way, to ask questions, and to challenge you to do better. A good editor really needs to be engaged beyond the surface level and when that happens I’m always appreciative. I’ve noticed that the practice of editing is disappearing, especially from smaller, underfunded presses, and it’s sad. Attention is the most valuable currency there is.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Rising pizza dough and hot trash (I’m from NYC).

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Write a screenplay. I’ve become hooked on poetry films and seeing my work come to life visually so I’d love to see that happen on a larger scale.

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’d love to be a small shop owner, maybe selling crystals or baked goods in the countryside. Something without deadlines in the way I’m used to, where my day to day is an actual day to day that I can’t predict.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
I don’t know if I ever really had a choice. My teachers told my parents it was something I should pursue ever since elementary school and then I was always writing for my school papers so I assumed I’d be writing for magazines and then I saw Almost Famous while I was in college and I was like: Done! This kinda ties back into the screenplay thing, I guess I just wanna be Cameron Crowe.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
Last great book: Wanda Coleman’s Wicked Enchantment

Last great film: Aftersun.

20 - What are you currently working on?
My next book for Omnidawn while trying to stay sane in my PhD program. If the book comes out and I’m a doctor in 2025 I will have succeeded.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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