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?

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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.

 

S71 Contributor Interviews: Caroline Wilkinson

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

I write in many genres, working to find the right one for the given material, which can take several tries. “Lyme Disease” probably found its shape as a poem because the experience it recounts comes out of Romantic poetry. In the first stanza, the speaker finds herself as a piece of food in a nineteenth-century ode.

Also, around the time I began writing this piece, I had been thinking of my correspondence with a poet, Amy King. The two of us were writing to each other about our experiences with illness, and after I recounted a prior bout of Lyme, she asked me if I was OK. (My symptoms had been rather dramatic.) I told her I was better. In fact, maybe my health was stronger as a result since I have taken extremely good care of myself in the wake of my illness. I, however, added that I would never recover in one way. “You will never fully convince me that what I saw during my fevers was not real.” The poem shows why.

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Pearl Aviary: An Interview with Rebecca Valley

Rebecca Valley Author PhotoREBECCA VALLEY is a poet and editor from Saint Albans, Vermont. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on under-represented authors and books in translation, and serves as associate poetry editor at Fairy Tale Review. She currently lives in Northampton, MA, where she is an MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her first chapbook, The Bird Eaters (dancing girl press), was released in August 2017. Find her online at www.rebeccavalley.com.

JR: The Bird Eaters is a going away present of sorts, its publication shortly before you moved cross-country for your MFA. Likewise, we open with the giving of a gift,

This morning

the cat left a body on the porch.

It was a yellow songbird,

the size and shape of a fist. (“We Ate the Birds”)

How does the theme of exchange influence your collection?

RV: It definitely feels like a going-away present, though I didn’t think of it that way until you mentioned it, Jon — I spent my last few years in Washington working on these poems, and when I received the chapbooks in the mail at my new apartment in Massachusetts it was a bit like opening up a short-lived time capsule.

There are definitely a number of conversational and physical exchanges between myself and my cat in these poems, but on a less material level, I was thinking a lot about failed exchanges while I was writing this chapbook. “This Hunger” is a series of these kinds of failed exchanges, in my mind — the narrator coughs up a gift for her partner that he doesn’t appreciate, the partner responds in languages that the narrator can’t understand. I think there’s an extraordinary amount of pain in these moments, when the people we are closest to are incapable of understanding our intentions, or our needs, or our language, even.

I relied quite a bit on animal imagery, or distinctions between species to make that clear, I think — because what encapsulates a failed exchange more than a dead bird on the porch, a disgusted owner, and a proud cat? I find that when I’m trying to express an inability to be heard or understood, I often turn my narrators into animals. I suppose that’s an exchange too — of one body for another, hopefully better-fitting one.

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S71 Contributor Interviews: Ruth Williams

IMG_3459What is it about the genre or cross-genre you write in that interests you/draws you in?

I am drawn to writing and reading poetry in part because it allows me to look intensely at the world around me and to consider with conscious attention my relation to it. This attention isn’t something our daily life cultivates, so poetry becomes a meaningful way of slowing down, looking closely. Poetry is also a genre that maintains a wonderful duality: it can be intensely personal, derived so completely from the interiors of my own mind, and yet, when I put a poem out in the world, it takes on meaning for others in ways I can’t predict.

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