Like, Fer Caesura: An Interview with Cait Weiss Orcutt

Cait Weiss Orcutt Author PhotoWinner of the Zone 3 First Book Award, CAIT WEISS ORCUTT’s work has been published in The Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, Prelude, and more. The founder of the Writers Guild Community Creative Writing Workshops in Columbus, Ohio, and a former workshop leader at New York Writers Coalition, Cait now teaches through the University of Houston, Inprint and Writers in the Schools. She is the recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship. Her first book, VALLEYSPEAK, came out this November.

Jon Riccio: VALLEYSPEAKs opening poem “Calabasas” exfoliates (to use a 90s beauty term) new life into the construct of origin—“I grow up in the valley under porn / stars, inside cars” concluding with “It’s a miracle to be born a vessel. We have so much / rind to burn.” How does the collection address potential, unmeasurable as it is, though often touted in quantifiables? On the inverse, what does VALLEYSPEAK say about squandered potential?

Cait Weiss Orcutt: Potential requires a linear understanding of time and a strong belief there is only one reality—and I suppose an origin story does too. I’m fascinated by cycles, by the belief that time itself is a series of spheres instead of one straight line from Point A to Point B. VALLEYSPEAK is constantly racing against itself, doubling back, finding shadows between generations, unearthing the future through conjuring ghosts.

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I grew up playing a lot of Mario Kart. I was especially captivated by the idea of a “ghost lap.” In a “ghost lap,” you race a semi-transparent version of yourself, a version of yourself endlessly repeating what you did the lap before. As the child of an alcoholic and an alcoholic myself—and as the child of two seekers, and a seeker myself—I imagine my potential and my origin as being interwoven with that of my parents.

I don’t think there can be a 21st century conversation about origin and potential without bringing up privilege, too. As a white cis-gendered able-bodied woman growing up economically stable, I have inherited a large degree of privilege. The family in my poems is white, far from poor, and has easy access to the industries and entertainments of a major American city. There’s a line in the poem “Charity”: “Our money, good money, crooks its fingers / in our breakdowns. Pulls our family’s addicts back up / by our teeth.” The women in my poems are often white, cis-gendered women, women with a specific privilege tied to social conceptions of beauty, beautiful objects, and how men with power and capital can and should use them.

So what is VALLEYSPEAK saying about potential? That it’s a myth, really. I don’t mean to devalue potential by calling it a myth, either. The most powerful things we have in our world are myths. Whether we use myth to re-inscribe power structures or subvert them, how we justify what we do is almost always traced back—not to potential, not even to origin, but—to myth.

Continue reading

SR72 Contributor Interviews: Caroline Chavatel

IMG_1208 (1)What is it about the genre or cross-genre you write in that interests you/draws you in?

In a lot of ways poetry allows me to explain or investigate a phenomenon in ways clear-cut prose just can’t. And that, of course, is no slight to prose writers. I do think, however, the fluidity of poetry and poetic forms presents us with a new language with which to consume our world in more fresh and magnetic ways.

How does this published piece fit in with the larger thematic concerns that you see in your overall work?

“Burgundy” is part of a manuscript that interrogates ideas of the consumed female figure both in flesh and not. There’s magic, philosophy, and love sonnets; there are sex work poems, circus poems, and phantasmagorical pieces. I’m concerned with exploitation, profit, the body, mechanical and personal illusions, and how these intersect. With that said, I’m still developing as a writer and a thinker, but these are my current poetic obsessions.

Continue reading

S71 Contributor Interviews: Robin Myers

RobinMyersWhat is it about the genre or cross-genre you write in that interests you/draws you in?

I don’t do much to push against the borders of genre as such. But poetry is an intrinsic shape-shifter, and I love this; I think it offers potentially infinite opportunities to find freedom within constraints, to forge complicities between what words say and how they say it. I’m especially interested in the mysteries of voice and register, about in shifts and tensions and fruitful contradictions: who is the “I” (visible or otherwise) in a poem? What does it trust? What does it want the reader to trust? What does it want, period? What is it willing to disclose and why?

Continue reading

Read Robin, The Editors Interview

This round robin interview includes the following editors:

Eloisa Amezcua JPEG (1)

ELOISA AMEZCUA’s debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, is the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize selected by Ada Limón. She is the founder and editor of The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry. [The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry]

Marcus Clayton

MARCUS CLAYTON is a writer, musician, and college professor from South Gate, CA, whose works appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, lipstickparty magazine, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. [indicia]

Seth Copeland

SETH COPELAND’s poetry has appeared in Crab FatMenacing HedgeOtolithsSan Pedro River ReviewMud Season Review, and Snorkel. He is the founding editor of Jazz Cigarette, and publishing editor for New Plains Review. Seth teaches and studies at the University of Central Oklahoma. [Jazz Cigarette]

Rachel Sahaidachny

RACHEL SAHAIDACHNY is associate editor of The Indianapolis Review and works as programs manager for The Indiana Writers Center. Her writing has been published in Southeast ReviewRadar PoetryRed Paint Hill, and others. [The Indianapolis Review]

Natalie Solmer

NATALIE SOLMER is the founder and editor in chief of The Indianapolis Review. She teaches English at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and Ivy Tech Community College. Find links to her work at http://www.nataliesolmer.com.[The Indianapolis Review]

AJ Urquidi

AJ URQUIDI is a California-based writer/editor. His words appear in journals including Vector Press, Foothill, and Verdad, and received the Gerald Locklin Writing Prize. [indicia]

Continue reading

S71 Contributor Interviews: Genelle Chaconas

Vertical selfieWhat is it about the genre or cross-genre you write in that interests you/draws you in?

I enjoy cross genre and experimental writing because I love writing materials that aren’t even literary. I’ve published lists, forms, etc. The detritus aspect of it appeals to me; I’m fascinated by reading we experience everyday, wads of junk mail we recycle, envelopes we shred, the endless copying and filing, etc.

How does this published piece fit in with the larger thematic concerns that you see in your overall work?

I was writing pieces with word limits: in this case, 50 words. You’d be amazed what you can do with 50 words or less when you forget about  grammatically correct or coherent sentences. This practice of controlled discord is central to my work. And I’m also into speculative genres.

What are you influenced by? 

I’m most influenced by paradigm shifting. I love doing anything (legal) which challenges my senses, tastes, abilities, etc. I relish anything which helps me question myself, experience new forms of thought process, practice chaotic or ‘chance’ forms such as cut-ups or fold-ins, whatever seeks to change or alter my consciousness.

What does your typical writing schedule look like? What aspects of working do you look forward to? What aspects frustrate you?

I try to write every day. When I don’t, I know. It’s like not sleeping. I often do not look forwards to writing, particularly when a larger project needs much editing. However, I enjoy creating new methods I can practice and experiment with, no matter how strange they may be.

For fun, if you could pick one meal that matches the piece we published, what would it be and why? 

Instant Buddha Feast. That’s not the name of it, but I remember seeing something like it at a supermarket. It described a luscious Tibetan ‘inspired’ vegan feast, pricey, chic, cruelty free, all organic, in a foil package. Add hot water and in three minutes, voila. There’s something frightening about that.

GENELLE CHACONAS is genderfluid, queer, feminist, an abuse survivor, and proud. They earned their BA in Creative writing from CSUS (2009) and their MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University (2015). Their first chapbook is Fallout, Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m Press, 2011). Their work is published or forthcoming in The New Engagement, A3, Fjords, WomenArts Quarterly, Jet Fuel Review, Milkfist, Menacing Hedge, Image OutWrite, Crack the Spine, Third Wednesday, Bombay Gin, Calaveras Station, Late Peaches: Poems by Sacramento Poets and many others. They are a volunteer reader for Tule Review . They’re drafting their first ‘real book’. They’re starting a online literary publication of their own soon. They performed at Sacramento’s Art Street with Library of Musiclandria. They enjoy gangster flicks, cheap takeout, industrial/noise music, edm, drone, cut-up and fold in technique, William S. Burroughs, queer art, cyberpunk and biopunk, and long walks off short piers.