Interview with Sara Adams - Money, Time, and Love

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate, we have our own fireworks going on over here. We just talked to Sara Adams, whose chapbook we're super excited about!

Sara Adams is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks: Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press) and Western Diseases (dancing girl press). Her work appears in publications such as DIAGRAM and Queen Mob's Teahouse. Sara lives in Portland, OR. She sat down to talk with us about her newest collection, Poems for Ivan, which will be available from Porkbelly Press so soon. 

Tell Tell Poetry: How many hours did you spend on your collection?

Sara Adams: Can we measure this in years instead? :) I've been working on these poems, though super on and off, for at least 5 years. And there are only 9 pages of poems in here. It's a micro-chapbook.

What was the most difficult moment, line, poem, or section of your collection? What made it so difficult?

This collection was actually a slow, steady process. There wasn't any crisis moment. Every time it didn't feel finished, I stopped working on it and picked it back up a few months later when I felt ready. If only all work was so flexible!

How many unpaid hours do you spend on supporting poetry?

I've been reading for Crab Creek Review for a couple of months, and just started reading for Red Bridge Press / Rivet Journal literally yesterday. I think it's only a couple of hours per week at this time, but in the summer, when I have a break from my teaching job, I'm planning to put in more hours.

What does a normal day look like for you? How do you spend most of your waking hours?

I'm a middle school teacher, and have never been asked this question. Feeling like a bit of a celebrity, to be honest. I'm at school from about 7:30-4:30, often later. Most of those are contact hours with students. I primarily teach writing, literature, and humanities. It's a small school, so I also do health, art, and other things, and we're basically like family-- for better and for worse! It is very intellectually and emotionally engaging, but oh so exhausting. After work, I spend time with my partner, read student papers or prep for my next day's classes, then often stay up late reading / writing poetry or submitting my work. Or if it's a tough day at work, I might spend the evening complaining and/or sleeping. I spend most of my waking hours feeling like I don't have enough waking hours. I often get really, really into something I'm writing or working on, and have to force myself to go to sleep so that I can be a functional adult in the morning (absolutely a requirement for my job).

What allows you to keep writing, even when you don’t want to?

I don't really force myself to write, except during a National Poetry Month 30/30 challenge. I'm friends with a lot of fiction writers (and ~more than friends~ with one) who emphasize the “butt in the seat” idea, putting in the time, word counts, progress, etc. I do feel this way when I'm working on a fiction project; I think I'm afraid of losing the thread. But with poetry, I really only write when I feel like it. Forcing myself to write doesn't work. So, that's one reason it could never pay the bills.

How do you define literary success?

For me, literary success means that the work keeps coming out of me, and it's new and interesting. I try not to focus on getting “better.” I understand that it's feasible for some writers to aim for supporting themselves financially with their writing and I think that's pretty awesome. I know that poetry will not pay my bills, and I'm okay with that.

What would you do if you didn’t write?

Maybe I'd get a side job that actually makes money! I like to work.

What is the most memorable writing advice you’ve ever heard?

I recently wrote about this in another interview, but I can't think of a close second to mention here. My writing / life mentor, Alisa Slaughter, advised me to keep pursuing interests, careers, cities, etc. Just to keep doing things that interested me. I think she was implying that having things to write about, and wanting to write about them, is far more important than honing craft. You can't say something well if you don't have anything to say.

What are you currently working on and where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 months? 5 years?

I had 3 poetry chapbooks accepted for publication in the last year (yasss!), so I'm interested to see what goes into crafting and publishing a full-length collection. I'd love to have a full-length poetry book out within five years. And I'd really like to do something with all these fiction starts I have lying around! Despite reflecting earlier about how stressful fiction-writing is, it's a process with its own intrigue and rewards. I think I need big chunks of time to get into these, so I'm hoping I'll feel like working on them over the summers. In the next five months, I'd like to just keep plugging away and submitting to journals. I also recently did my first poetry reading, so I'd like to do more reading and interacting with the lit community in Portland.

Success, Failure, Money: The Interview

We sat down with Ellen Smith, author of Nobody's Jackknife; Marilyn McCabe, author of Glass Factory; Lauren Brazeal, author of Zoo for Well Groomed Eaters; Dawn Manning, author of Postcards from the Dead Letter Office; and Cynthia Manick, author of Blue Hallelujahs from Black Lawrence Press. We talked about success, money, and failure because we think these are important issues that we don't talk about enough in the poetry world.

How many hours did you spend on your collection? 

Ellen Smith: I have probably spent more than 200 hours over the last 10 years on this collection, more if you include all the yoga I did (which informs the poems).

Marilyn McCabe: Most of the collection was written over the course of 2 or 3 years, with any one poem going through any number of major and/or minor revisions, so an hour count is impossible, especially as I work on a...well...let's put it "non-daily" "schedule."

Lauren Brazeal: I'd say my chapbook, Zoo for Well-Groomed Eaters, took a total of 300 hours to finish if I include drafting the individual poems, threading them together to form a cohesive collection, and redrafting the whole to synched better as a group. I'm not sure if I'm a slow writer or a quick writer. I know some who can finish a book in a weekend and I will definitely never be one of those people.   Dawn Manning: It might be easier to calculate this in years. In 2012 I started putting together these poems, mostly tanka, into a chapbook, but then it sat in a drawer germinating for a couple of years after a series of discouraging encounters with the now defunct press that was going to publishing it at the time. In April of 2015, I ran into Jeni and Daniel Wallace, the founding editors of Burlesque Press, at a wedding. They mentioned they were interested in my work and I really loved their author-centered approach to publishing. Things snowballed from there, and I ended up spending most of the summer writing and revising until I had doubled the length of the manuscript into a full length collection. I went out with some friends after a couple months or intense, isolated writing and realized how rusty I was at holding a simple conversation with a person other than myself.

Cynthia Manic: On and off for 3 years, so 26,280 hours

Ellen Smith: The most difficult section was the opening, “The Locust: A Foundational Narrative” (a version of which can be seen here).  I had several short poems but no overarching narrative. I spent about a month rereading old books and collaging it together in a way that would help to give a background to what became the book. As it was hybrid nonfiction, it was difficult, too, to engage with the content. For instance, it was important to demonstrate the racism that was all around me, and I agonized about using the N-word but ultimately felt that it was important to include it, to have that awful discomfort there. I’m always afraid of the presence of that word in the sequence, but felt that it best gets at the truth of the casualness of hate in the time and place I grew up in.

Marilyn McCabe: Certainly the poem "Marcelle," which is about the last day of life for a young friend of mine was and continues to be a difficult poem, and yet, for me, full of the grace of that moment as well.

Lauren Brazeal: Not a moment so much, but having to carefully edit was difficult. With a large collection, I believe there's a bit more wiggle room for a few poems that may not fit exactly, but a chapbook has to pack so much into such a tiny space. My goal for this collection was to present a poetry petit-four that didn't take itself too seriously. My second chap, and my full-length are so thematically heavy but Zoo for Well-Groomed Eaters has a smirk on every page. I suppose the most difficult moment was taking the axe to pieces that I loved deeply but knew ultimately would change the tone of the collection, or cause it to digress. Careful editing left me with a very tight little group, but only after some pretty major sacrifices.

Dawn Manning: Choosing the first poem of the collection proved to be challenging. The poem I originally started with was called "Birth, Labor," which using the birth of Pegasus as a metaphor for the creative process. But it really did not fit in with the rest of the collection so I pulled it out and left that page blank for awhile. I knew that the first poems would set the tone for the collection and I didn't want to rush into filling that spot with just anything. It wasn't until I was nearly done arranging the rest of the book that I rediscovered a short poem I had written years ago called "Topophilia," which means love of place. Since the poems in Postcards are place-centric, and the tanka are collected under headings that situate them by location, it seemed like a fitting orientation point for readers embarking on the journey these poems take around the world.

Cynthia Manick: I had 2 difficult moments. The first was deciding on the first poem in the collection because it really is an invitation to the reader and it sets a precedent for the poems that follow. So if the book was an album or playlist, I had to decide how the listener would feel and respond. The 2nd difficulty was letting go of the collection. You spend years with memory and imagination creating these poems and then you open it up for the world to see. It's exciting, scary, exhilarating, and terrifying.

How many unpaid hours do you spend on supporting poetry?

Ellen Smith: Until about two years ago, I was Reviews Editor for Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics. The journal has ceased publication, but I’d say I spent about 50 hours/year on that, between assigning and sending books to reviewers, editing, and writing my own reviews.

Marilyn McCabe: I am a first-round reader for a contest, a judge for a writing residency, a proofreader for a small press, a and sit on the board of a regional writers organization, as well as a member of a writers group and a poetry book reading group, so although it is not daily or weekly, certainly many months of the year I spend many hours in support of writers, writing, literary publishers, and poetry.

Lauren Brazeal: On average, I'd say 10-15 hours a week but it depends on the year. Last year I read for Tinderbox Editions during their non-fiction open submission window, I was also the poetry editor for Martian Litin my past, and I try to give free poetry workshops at local libraries when I'm able. I gave birth to my son last year so I've had less time to commit recently.

Dawn Manning: I co-coordinate a few writing events each year, such as readings, salons, and workshops through Poetdelphia. It probably amounts to 10-15 hours for each event.

Cynthia Manick: It ranges from 6 to 12 hours a week. I'm East Coast Editor of Jamii Publishing, a small press in California that I co-founded with a friend. I also have a reading series called Soul Sister Revue that performs four times a year, so I'm always reading journals looking for new talent. Occasionally I serve as a reader for places like the Vermont Studio Center, Hedgebrook, and the Brooklyn Arts Council where I read and vote on submissions. I'm also on the New York team for the BinderCon conference.

What does a normal day look like for you? How do you spend most of your waking hours?

Ellen Smith: When I’m not teaching (which I do full time about 8 months out of the year, a normal day involves my spending 3-7 hours writing, revising, and sending out work. During the school year, I try to write for at least 40 minutes a day, with one or two days (usually Saturdays) weekly given entirely to writing.

Marilyn McCabe: I get up and have coffee, sometimes writing in my journal, sometimes reading the paper, sometimes just staring out the window -- which is a kind of creative effort in itself (I HAVE to believe...). Then I go to my home office and try to do something in pursuit of my writing or publishing or creative work of some kind, if I don't dither away the hours checking email, Facebook, and other stupid shit. Sometimes my "work" is just reading other people's work, which is often instructive, and, if I'm lucky, inspirational. Sometimes my "work" is to wander out into the garden and randomly pull weeds, or frown at the out of control perennials and threaten to pull them or move them or otherwise completely revamp the garden into some semblance of order. It is an empty threat. Sometimes I give myself a writing task or exercise. Sometimes I just write, because some line has asserted itself in the night. Sometimes I work on videopoems, or draw, or play in some craft or other. In the afternoons I go to my dreary part-time job.

Lauren Brazeal: Right now I'm still taking care of my infant son, so I haven't returned to work full-time. I wake at 4am and write until 7-8am when the baby usually wakes up. I try to steal writing breaks throughout the day, but sometimes it'll take me ten hours just to get the right verb because of all the distractions. I currently tutor at-risk kids in reading and writing during the school year. I also teach at the Writer's Garrett in Dallas on occasion; they have an amazing program called Writer's in the Schools which puts local poets and writers in the classroom, helping students appreciate the beauty of language and encouraging creativity. I earn money as a freelance editor and manuscript consultant as well. I think most writers have to spackle a living from a variety of sources, and I'm no exception. 

Dawn Manning: Aside from doing the grunt work for my own writing, I teach English as a Second Language over the internet. Since my students are 6-8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and are adults with full time jobs and families etc., the schedule can be a bit erratic. Some days I'll have no students, which means I focus on being a poet, running errands, and doing chores. On other days, I have students back-to-back and I'm pretty drained afterwards. I'm also an amateur metalsmith (mostly silver), so I try to squeeze in some time for that every week.

Cynthia Manick:  I've worked for a nonprofit organization for the last 9 years and it's a 9 to 5 job. A typical day starts at 7:30am and I check email for any upcoming meetings; a train or bus ride where I read or edit a poem of my own or I read a literary magazine; 7 hour workday and I check personal email for acceptances, rejections, Jamii correspondence, and other literary news; print out poems for a workshop or writing group; go to the gym, attend workshop, or attend poetry reading; call my mom; and then work on a new poem or submit work to a literary magazine.

What allows you to keep writing, even when you don’t want to?

Ellen Smith: I feel better when I write. Even when I take writing breaks, which I think are healthy, I find myself writing every three days or so.

Marilyn McCabe: If I don't want to write, I don't. But after a while I start to feel -- I don't know, not guilty or bad or anything I can put a name to, but eventually after not writing for a few weeks, I'll sit myself down and start a regular practice for a while -- a ten minute writing exercise a day, for example. And then I find myself writing again.

Lauren Brazeal: I want to say something romantic and sentimental, like “the love of language,” but honestly, writing is more like an itch I need to scratch most of the time. Those closest to me know when I haven't gotten my dose on any given day because I become sullen and short-tempered. I keep writing because I can't not write.

Dawn Manning: Setting goals for sending off work helps because there's a deadline. If I see a call for submissions due at the end of the month and I feel my work is a good fit for the publication, then I love having that deadline to push against to finish (or start) the poem/s I want to send there. Sometimes that means I only end up with a rough draft and I know the work isn't ready to go out into the world, but I also know it wouldn't have gotten written, or at least it wouldn't have gotten written in the same way and in the same timely fashion, if I hadn't focused on that deadline.

Cynthia Manick: Poetry has the unique ability to combine life, creativity, and history to create something for others to experience. If I want to experience all-consuming love at a moment's notice, I'll read Lorca. If I'm in a mood for syncopated beats, I'll read Jayne Cortez. That idea of creating a bubble for others to step in keeps me writing. But I'm also one of those people who can't wait for the muse to strike, so I like being in workshop or writing group where creating work is its main goal.

How do you define literary success?

Ellen Smith: Prioritizing your writing, helping others to write and express themselves, moving continually out of writing comfort zones.

Marilyn McCabe: Before I die, I want someone to pay for my travel somewhere to read my work to an audience. That will be success. If you could make it a first class ticket, I could die immediately thereafter.

Lauren Brazeal: I think the definition of literary success is completely subjective. To some, publishing one poem or story is success, to others, anything less than 10 books is a failure. I count Zoo for Well-Groomed Eaters as a success because it found a good home and I'm proud of what that little book has become.

Dawn Manning:  For me literary success is being able to chisel a piece of writing into sounds and shapes that resonates with someone else. There was a time when I took the Emily Dickinson approach of not sharing my work with other, only instead of a drawer filled with tiny scrolls, I had a neglected hard drive and stacks of scrap papers filled with half-finished poems. I say 'half-finished' because I've learned that for me a poem doesn't resurrect off the page until it is read by someone else. My poems are responses to the things I witness and experience, but they are also a calling out in search of a response in someone else.

Cynthia Manick: Getting your poems to people and being happy with a poem I've written. The book is a symbol of a type of success but I also think connecting with other writers is a success. It's also always a nice surprise to get an honorarium for a poem or reading, no matter how small; the added monetary value to the work goes a long way.

What would you do if you didn’t write?

Ellen Smith: Play guitar, or drum.

Marilyn McCabe: If I didn’t write, I would read even more. Maybe learn how to play the piano.

Lauren Brazeal: I would be unable to function if I didn't write. I'd probably never leave my bed, remain in a savagely bad mood, and be totally useless to anyone.

Dawn Manning: Maybe become a full time metalsmith. Definitely take a vow of silence.

Cynthia Manick: I would still be in the writing community because I love words. So I can picture myself running an open mic joint, pop-up speakeasy, or even a nonprofit involved with arts or literature.

What is the most memorable writing advice you’ve ever heard?

Ellen Smith: I like Anne LeMott’s thoughts on “shitty first drafts.” It’s important to write for the process and worry about the product later.

Lauren Brazeal: My mentor Brenda Shaughnessy once told me “If you want to write about a girl falling in love with a glacier, write about a girl falling in love with a glacier.” Silly as that may sound, it's completely stuck. I don't limit what I write about and I always let my imagination take me where it's going to go. Incidentally, a poem about a girl falling in love with winter ended up in Zoo for Well-Groomed Eaters.

Dawn Manning: Not really advice, but I always come back to Paul Valéry's summation that "a poem is never finished, only abandoned." It helps the perfectionist in me let go of a poem when I've been clinging to it, tweaking the same few words over and over again without making any progress.

Cynthia Manick:  "The turn in the poem is that place where the poem will lead to another connotation or place; it’s something that quakes you"- Vivee Francis

 "In this poem I don't want deer, I want venison" - CD Wright

What are you currently working on and where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 months? 5 years?

Ellen Smith: I’m working on a project called Shaken: A Re-Cycle, where I make poems inspired by the first lines of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I’m into the last 45, and am now starting to see the poems as a collection, trying to figure out how to arrange them in relation to one another. At least four of them have been published as individual poems, but I imagine some of them will merge. I visit the hard copy a few times a week to try to suss out possible sequencing.

Marilyn McCabe: I have a chapbook length collection I would like to see published, and a long poem I'd like to figure out how to create a narrative arc for. I would like to increase my experimentation in multimedia work. Mostly my goal for myself is to increase and hold on to my sense of play. The more playful I feel, the more chance I have to create really interesting work, I suspect. It's amazing how quickly I fall into earnestness and a sense of self-seriousness. I write really crappy poems then. In 5 years I hope to have amazed myself with something I've created. I want to make myself laugh out loud.

Lauren Brazeal: I'm shopping my full-length—a memoir in verse about my time on the streets when I was a teenager--around to different publishers at the moment. I'm also currently working on a collage of one-act plays, epistolary stories, poems, and diary entries that chronicle the life of a professional EVP transcriber. It's pretty zany. I'd love to have made significant headway with that project in the next 5 months. I try not to plan too far ahead, but I'd like to have the memoir-in-verse and this current project published in the next 5 years.

Dawn Manning: Currently, I've taken to sonnets. Like tanka, they have a turn, but the longer length allows for an image or idea to morph more slowly, and you can build towards the turn gradually allowing for more rumination within the poem itself. For the foreseeable future, I think I will work on some longer poems, with the occasion burst of tanka writing thrown in for good measure. I'm a slow processor, but I hope to have another collection of poetry composed of these longer poems completed in the next few years. Right now I'm just writing my way through one week at a time until I have enough well-shaped poems to see what this next collection wants to be.

Cynthia Manick: Well Blue Hallelujahs will be out next month, so I'm mentally prepping for that. I'm currently doing a fellowship at the Poets House where I'm writing new poems that deal with race, joy, craft, Aunt Jemima, Soul Train, and the way bodies move. In 5 months I want to corrupt some traditional forms. What if a poem was written like a cease and desist letter? or warranty information? I like the idea of poems transforming something old to new. In 5 yrs, I'll still be writing but probably drinking more whiskey.


Interview with Leora Fridman

Leora Fridman is the author of My Fault (Cleveland State University Press). In this interview, we talk about Alice Notley, Leora’s influences, and her writing process. 

Kallie Falandays: You incorporate an epigraph by Alice Notley. When did you first come across this Notley line and how did or does it continue to affect you and your work?

Leora Fridman: Alice Notley’s a grand auntie to me of sorts, and her work has been around me for a long time, since I was lucky enough to be introduced to her work in college. My first poetry teacher assigned Descent of Alette and I remember having no clue whatsoever what to do with it, but knowing there was something there for me.

As for that line in particular, it comes from her poem “Choosing Styles,” and evokes much of what I find a home in in Notley – the tremendously generous and direct way that she deals with the impulse to care, to relate, but also the drag of that, the unfortunate compassionate impulse, the complexity we gain when we see ourselves in relationship or choose to be in relationship. “Pained and similar plants, now don’t I have to / give,” she writes, evoking a reluctance to give but the necessity of it when realizing similarity. This is important to me in this book as I work through impulses to care and connect (which are, of course, also gendered) and my desire to complicate them, make them visible – make them visible as labor and as conflict, work taking place that allows conversation and social engagement to function.

If you had to describe your book to a 3rd grader, what might you say?        

It’s not all your fault, but you should still say you’re sorry when you mean it.  

What was the most interesting thing that you discovered about your collection after publishing it? What do you think other people will think is the most interesting aspect of your collection?

Caryl Pagel, my editor at CSU, was an astoundingly thoughtful reader of the manuscript. One of the first things she started talking to me about once we were editing the book was my politics and the explicit discussion of politics in the book. In some ways I thought my politics were implicit, hidden, opaque in this book, and it was a surprise (in the end an enjoyable one) to feel myself exposed. I always feel exposed in this way when other people who aren’t me draw connections between my poems and talk about recurring themes or words they see. I don’t usually see these recurrences until after I finish a group of poems, and then it feels like this strange mirroring to look at the poems from the outside (or have someone else look at them from the outside) and realize they are hashing out certain topics or turns of phrase over and over again, that my obsessions and interests are really that pervasive and obvious.

Can you talk a bit about what you thought publishing would be like vs. what it is actually like?

Hm, this is a tough question – to some degree the book itself being published came about as a surprise. I’d been sending out another manuscript, a serial long poem that kept being a finalist for contests that I’d always thought would be my first book. After almost four years of sending it out I got sick of it, tore apart a bunch of old poems, put them back together, and made My Fault – and only sent it out to CSU. It still feels strange in some ways that this book is my first book. But it also feels fresh and good.

In general, my publishing experience has been very lucky: Caryl and everyone at CSU is incredibly good, responsible and organized, and demonstrated so much care for my poems and for the publishing / promotions logistics around getting the book out. That’s different than what I expected: so many of my friends had published their first books on very small presses that didn’t have the means to really edit the book, promote it in significant ways, or bring in design help. I feel very lucky to have had so much help with those things.

Your book opens with a poem that incorporates an “I am” anaphora. Why start the collection with this poem and what was the ordering process like for this collection?

As Dara Wier refers to in her blurb on the back of the book, I’m not hiding in this collection. There’s a definite “I” here. The “I” is not always me, but the engagement with a singular ego in a community context is definitely important to the book and to the ethics it’s trying to confront. Given that many of the poems can be more conceptual, I wanted to start the book with something  that felt friendly, like a person introducing themselves. Again, even though that “I” isn’t necessarily always me, I wanted to greet the reader and say that I’m happy they are there, shake their hand. As I was ordering the collection as a whole, it was very important to me to figure out how to be friendly (or, take care of the reader) but also make it clear that friendliness is not my only / primary goal in the book, that in fact I’m trying to challenge the culture that requires women to smile on the street in order not to be perceived as rude. And so I thought about this as I was ordering the book, and tried to balance my friendly instincts and my instincts to be “rude,” or just closed and private.

What was the first poem you wrote in the collection and when did you realize that you had a full manuscript coming together? Was it a conscious effort?

As I said above, this was a book made of torn apart poems that had been sitting around for a while that I rewrote and put together very quickly. So, yes, it was definitely a conscious effort to make it a book / a new book. I pretty much always have to trick myself into believing that I’m writing a book so that I can feel motivated to write – my labor feels more deserving when it’s leading up to something big.

My favorite line in your collection isCan you tell me / what an arcade / means” because it points out the inherent difficulty of language and the necessity of begging for it and pulling it out. What is your favorite line from this collection?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough question to answer. It changes all the time, especially since I’m giving readings a lot right now and I start to like new lines depending upon how different audiences react to them. When I read in Seattle recently I started to like the end of my poem “Rigor” more – it goes, “how keeping it on / makes me respectful, / and keeping it meek / isn’t shown.” The meek > shown movement people seem to like.

There are certain tropes – of speaking, of hands, of bodies, of being silent – that run through this collection. Can you talk a bit about what haunts you as a writer? Are there certain ideas, words, sounds, or voices that you keep coming back to?

I hesitate to generalize, because, yes, of course I have my obsessions, but I also want the book to be associative. I want people to digest it and associate it with whatever it makes them think of. That said, this book is definitely obsessed with fault and responsibility, how we assign it and how it we take it on. It’s also interested in gender performance as it comes through and effects the body, with living as a sometimes grungy high femme cis-gendered woman who enjoys performing my femininity but also feels so angry about my gender positioning and often desperately unsafe in my body in public. So, I want to talk about how to be caring and receptive while also boundaried, protective, safe. I’m interested in the deep ambivalence there.

Can you make us a playlist to listen to while we think about your collection?

Here’s a smattering of what I was listening to as I put this collection together:

Disclosure - Sam Smith
Mapei - Don't Wait
Rhye- Open
Nico & Vinz - Am I Wrong
Las Cafeteras - Luna Lovers
Ana Tijoux - 1977
Asher Roth - Tangerine Girl
Sia - Chandelier
Lupe Fiasco- Old School Love
Sylvan Esso - Coffee

What was the most important advice you received about this collection?

Ah, I wouldn’t say I really got advice. I don’t really take advice easily! I definitely was exchanging poems in this collection with other poets I respect who would write back their own poems, and that’s the best advice I get these days, seeing what kind of poem in a response poem to my work.

What are you currently working on, reading, and thinking about?

I’m working on a collection of essays – yep! Prose is happening! I’m writing poems too, but at the moment I’m writing a number of essays that I think will eventually be together in a collection. In some ways related to my fault, they’re interested in incidents of care and networks of care, how people care for each other when they are separated from their families and traditional care networks, how people care for each other across histories of trauma and difference. They touch on my own family’s history as well as experiences with mental illness, gentrification, racial justice work, and spiritual practice. They are ongoing!


Literary Journals You Should Read

1. B O D Y Literature

Featuring poetry by Bradley Paul, Tara Boswell, Tomaz Salamun, and Ocean Vuong, interviews with artists and authors, and performance videos, this magazine is a must read and a must see.


Featuring flash fiction 200 words or less.

3. Now Culture

Featuring the most annoying & exciting website layout in THE UNIVERSE, and the fabulous comic Emma the Emu by Mal Westcott and Don Zirilli, Now Culture is both awesome and terrifying.

4. Pool Poetry

Just trust me!

5. Tuesday An Art Project

Edited by Jennifer Flescher, Tuesday features  postcards, poems, prints, photographs, and happiness. What more could you ask for?