Barnstorm and a Bullet: An Interview with Rachel Mindell

By Jon RiccioRachel Mindell Author Photo

Rachel Mindell is a writer and teacher from Tucson, Arizona. She works for the Montana Book Festival, the Missoula Writing Collaborative and Submittable. Individual poems have appeared in Diagram, Pool, BOAAT, Horse Less Review, DESTROYER, and elsewhere.

JR: Like a Teardrop and a Bullet opens with a ten-line poem, “Chile Ancho,” that commences at “4:30 p.m. Friday.” Do time and dimensionality set the tone for what’s to follow?  

Rachel Mindell: Interesting question. I think I began with “Chile Ancho” hoping it would embrace what follows: small instants, loss, heat. So in a way, yes, perhaps a tone is set for one moment being all moments, one door being all doors. These poems are a couple years old now – what I sense in the writing retrospectively is a willful push towards the precipice, something my friend Crystal Hartman intuited through her cover art. 4:30 p.m. Friday is what we jump off of.

JR: “Diamond City Ghost” explores the brittle courtship between outlook and environment –

Need brought us
this collapsing mine, rising dust and an aerial photograph
of what never was thrive, who’s to say
faith we haven’t and we won’t.

followed by “What luxury to simply up and leave our specter/ there’s so much cheap land still permissible.” How did moving from Tucson to Missoula change your definition of the word thrive?

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An Interview with Anselm Berrigan

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Anselm Berrigan will be judging Sonora Review‘s 2017 Poetry Contest. Deadline 4/1.

His recent books of poetry include Come In Alone (Wave, 2016) and Primitive State (Edge, 2015). He is the editor of What Is Poetry? (Just kidding, I know you know): Interviews from the Poetry Project Newsletter 1983-2009, due this spring from Wave Books. He is the poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail, a former Artistic Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, and Co-Chair, Writing at The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. Degrets, a chapbook from an ongoing series of combine-like poems, is due out from Couch Press in Portland, OR.

Gabe Dozal: In doing research for this interview I re-read the interview you had in Poetry with Bethlehem Shoals.  This was an awesome conversation.  I wish we could just reprint that conversation for Sonora.

Anselm Berrigan: Well, I’ll tell you that it was little J.A. who compared me to Sarah Palin. Does that qualify as a scoop?

GD: Are you writing separate poems or one long poem? Like, do you see your work as separate entities or one long epic poem?

AB: I like the feeling that it’s all one long poem — not an epic, but some kind of ludicrously scaled quilt. But in the writing the separate poems take their specific shapes, usually with very particular attitudes, and that feeling isn’t really there. So the long quilt feeling is probably more like self-hypnosis, though I have a tendency to write a lot of poems that go together as individual poems while being parts of long works.

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Hive Mint: An Interview with Lo Kwa Mei-en

By Jon Riccio

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Lo Kwa Mei-en is a poet from Singapore and Ohio. She is the author of two full-length books of poetry, THE BEES MAKE MONEY IN THE LION (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and YEARLING (Alice James Books), and two chapbooks. She has received a fellowship from Kundiman, and her MFA from The Ohio State University. You can find her at www.lokwameien.com.

Jon Riccio: Like an alphabet gemologist, you imbue the abecedarian’s every facet with a leonine gleam – backwards, forwards, end-lettered, and inside out. Why does this poetic form appeal so strongly to you?

Lo Kwa Mei-en: I love that the abecedarian is both formulaic—in the most boring sense of the word—and alchemical, in the most unpredictable sense of the word. The abecedarian takes me to the dictionary—which is on a basic level a mammoth book, a place for a bookworm to lose herself—and the form gets me lost, runs me into dead ends, necessitates that I look beyond the first answer that came to mind. The abecedarian is deceptively permissive and deceptively limiting. I decided to double-end most of the forms that I borrowed for this book so that I would more continually confront the specific way in which that form demanded I reach.

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Gilded Flux: An Interview with Iliana Rocha

By Jon Riccio

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Iliana Rocha is originally from Texas. She earned a PhD in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Arizona State University, where she was Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her work was chosen for the Best New Poets 2014 anthology and has previously appeared in Bennington Review, Banango Street, Blackbird, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Her first book, Karankawa, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Jon Riccio: Karankawa opens with the poem “La Llorona as Andrea Yates,” a blend of folklore and modern infamy (“Somewhere in Texas, a crowd/ predicts my death. They say it will sound/ like the scream of a tuba being born.”). Why is today’s gallery of rogues so readily interchangeable with the centuries old?

Iliana Rocha: In a broader sense, I think it is because our mythology concerning women has not evolved much past the dichotomy of monster/angel—either women are destroyers or creators—the nuance and complexity of women’s identities is a deep erasure women writers are still desperately trying to rewrite back into grand narratives. To open the collection with two notorious female figures (one from Mexican folklore and the other from American pop culture) is not only an attempt to bridge hyphenated gaps between identities, but also to illuminate the one-dimensionalized approach we have to writing about women, particularly “bad” women.

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Supersedent Bouquet: An Interview with Robert Carr

By: Jon Riccio

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Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in the spring of 2016 by Indolent Books. His poems appear in a variety of publications including The Good Men Project, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Pickled Body, White Stag Journal, Bewildering Stories Magazine, Front Porch Review, Canary Literary Magazine, 4ink7, Dark Matter Journal of Speculative Writing and numerous other publications. He has led public health infectious disease efforts in Massachusetts for over 30 years and lives with his husband Stephen in Malden (MA). He continues to learn from their son Noah and the community of poets in the Boston area. His published work can also be found at robertcarr.org.

Jon Riccio: Congratulations on Amaranth’s publication. I’m not the most botanically inclined, though I did learn the amaranth is an “imaginary, undying flower,” and chemists have assigned its namesake to an “azo dye used chiefly to color pharmaceuticals, food, and garments.” Do these definitions serve more as lenses or launching points for your collection?

Robert Carr: The launching point for the book was the Keats epigraph, “The spirit culls unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays through the old garden ground of boyish days.” I knew this first collection would dig the ground of my childhood though today, age 56. The shadow field of sexual fantasy and reality, the deaths of men through the AIDS epidemic, the death of my mother, sexual excess and physical survival.

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