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Monday, May 9, 2022
TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.
We don’t expect an elevator pitch from a poet, but can you tell us about your work in 2-3 sentences?
Dear Selection Committee wrestles with issues
like climate change, addiction, modern distractions, gender presentation,
religious questioning, and the nature of pain. It’s framed as a job application
and is “a subversive, sexy love song to an endlessly messy self and
the burning world it inhabits,”—and I’m terrified of it, so that must mean it’s
I basically ran down the street with
all my decorum and every sensible thing anyone has ever tried to teach me
burning like a Molotov cocktail in
my hand. Then I hurled it into the world and tried not to run away. That
courage comes from the modeling of other poets. Seeing poets like Diane Seuss,
Rita Dove, Suzanne Frischkorn, Kelli Russell Agodon, Audre Lorde, Natalie Diaz,
and Rosebud Ben-Oni meet the page as their authentic, unapologetic selves gave
me the courage to do so as well. Also, having a great support group of
accepting, loving people has given the courage to write what I need to write,
and so much more.
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows
of your book’s road to publication.
I entered and placed in several
contests. Always the bridesmaid. But as I did this I kept shaping and shaping
the collection—removing, adding, and revising poems, changing orderings and
subheadings, and so forth. Then, one afternoon, I gave a reading at AWP, and
Jackleg Press’ new poetry editor, Simone Muench was one of the other readers. A
few months later, she wrote to ask if I had a book. It was perfect timing. I’d
just gotten Dear Selection Committee
into a form I was truly happy with (why do we send our babies out before
they’re ready? Lol), and I was about to start sending it around again. I also
love Simone’s work and was incredibly impressed with Jackleg’s model, which
offers generous royalties, has an all-star editorial board and an
environmentally sustainable publishing practice, and focuses on work that is “bold,
vibrant, and authentic.” The fact that Simone asked for my book after hearing
me read at AWP has reinforced my belief in how important it is to get out there
and share your work. You never know how it will touch someone or what good
fortune it may bring you later.
What’s your favorite piece of writing
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” –Rumi
My favorite writing advice is “write
until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
Everything surprised me. Every single
thing. But the thing that surprises me the most is that I’m actually publishing
it. (tries to hide behind plant)
How do you approach revision?
Of course, it’s different every time.
But, the most important aspect of revision for me is that I stay loose and
engage it as an integral part of the creative process. If I become overly
analytical, I cramp up. For instance, I can’t just stare at a poem and try to
figure out which word to cut or what the title should be. I keep “scratch
paper” beside me as I’m writing and revising (whether that means a second word
document or a piece of printer paper), and I free write and come back to the
main document, free write and come back to the main document, again and again,
all the way through revision. If I’m trying to think of a title, I’ll free write
for the title. That scratch paper—informal, unseen by others, and totally
accepting of my worst crap—keeps me relaxed and unbridled.
Inquiring foodies and hungry book
clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might
Until you asked, I didn’t actually realize how often food
appears in Dear Selection Committee.
Most of the food mentions are little surreal, though--a torte made
by trees; little cups of pain, shots of pain with pain backs on the rocks,
and pain crudités on leafy green beds of pain; a café that serves only whipped
cream on the tips of penises, a skewered earth. But there is crème brûlée, plain and simple, served in
little white ramekins! Who doesn’t love crème brûlée? And Jacques Pépin?
And Julia Child?
ORDER THIS BOOK FOR YOUR TBR STACK HERE: https://bookshop.org/books/dear-selection-committee/9781737513414
Pain Is So Resplendent It Has Babies,” HERE:
in Me Is a Bird,” HERE: