Sunday, March 3, 2013

next big thing

It had to come around at some point:  the internet chain-letter, The Next Big Thing.  Kara Candito tagged me, and you ought to check out her responses here.  Her first book, Taste of Cherry, is rich and gorgeous and won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize.  I met her at Bread Loaf the first year I went and really felt lucky to be able to read her work; I'm excited to hear she has a second book coming along.

What is your working title of your book?
 P I N E.  
Also, I have two chapbooks:  The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake (Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, 2010) and City of Bears (dancing girl press, forthcoming this year).  But P I N E is what I'm working on just now, or rather what hasn't landed a home, what will, I hope, become my first full-length, and I'm at work on a second full-length just now too.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The trigger:  I was in a nonfiction seminar with Dan Philippon, and we were reading Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber, and she opens the book with a crucial pregnancy test.  It made me think of how many pregnancy tests I'd taken over the years, only to find out I had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which is an infertility condition, which meant my monthly bleedings were sporadic and I wasn't ovulating.  So the (in)fertility manuscript began, examining the female body as medical object and also the painful pull of longing.  And continues as the body is then given treatments and that kind of obsession one might have with want.

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
(Insert quip about how this was clearly created by a fiction writer.  And I wonder why a poet hasn't revamped it.  Including me.)
I did find out Padma Lakshmi not only is a single mama, but she overcame endometriosis in order to have her daughter.  That's media, yes?
I think what I would most fantasize about would be a documentary taking a look at other poet-mama's journeys.  I'm on a poet-moms listserv moderated by Arielle Greenberg, and these voices have brought me a great deal of comfort as I work my way through my own journeys, as mother, as poet.  I'd love to see someone smart put together footage interviewing them.  Us.  Well, really, them because I'd rather hear what they have to say than myself.  It's a wise and kind oracle.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A sequence of poems that focus on (in)fertility, on the body as medical object, on failure and shame, on longing and obsession, on language's contours and the body as a book, on ways in which the body can rewrite itself and the ways in which the natural world can imprint on experience.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
 It is currently being considered by various independent poetry publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft?   Hard to say--individual poems were mostly written in the moment, with some backstory poems written later, some poems that filled gaps later too.  The very first draft was put together in August of 2010, and though it's been submitted to contests and whatnot, I've been tinkering with it since.  It's pretty remarkable how different this current version is compared to what I had in August of 2010.  I should look at it for entertainment; I think only a few poems from the original remain.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I couldn't do that, compare it, but I could say who / which books had influence on me:  Sharon Olds' The Wellspring was the first collection of poems I fell in love with (at sixteen!), and I love it, and her others, still.  While writing this book, I loved:  Leslie Adrienne Miller's Resurrection Trade, Claudia Emerson's Late Wife, Rachel Zucker's Museum of Accidents, Kimiko Hahn's Narrow Road to the Interior, Elizabeth Bishop's collected, Carolyn Forche's The Country Between Us.  I adored Beth Ann Fennelly's Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother and the anthology of essays The Grand Permission:  New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I do write from personal experience, and the confessional poets appeal to me, as do those who have close attention to the image and lyric.  I'm interested in how the confessional can be universal:  how one experience can connect to others in a myriad of ways.  I hope my chapbook does that:  The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake, is about my grandfather's descent into Alzheimer's, about his own loss of language and memory, using the specifics of his journey in order to reflect on the whole.  

While writing P I N E, I had been thinking a great deal about the body--I attended Bodies: The Exhibition with a good friend early in the writing process, and not long after, I'd begun to take yoga classes, which is deeply about paying attention to the signals one's body sends and being in tune with those energies.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Here are a few published poems from the manuscript that appear online:
- Renaming the Newborn and Boulevard Brewing Company (reprint, Literary Mama)
This Is the Body Rewriting Itself (Loch Raven Review)
The Clinic and Offal (TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism)
Ultrasound (II) (Switched-on Gutenberg)
- Twenty-seven (Antiphon)

- Commotion, Sleeping Pill, Records (Fertile Source)

- Figures (Anatomy & Etymology)

- Prenatal Class and Things to do Around My Uterus (Specter)
A few other Next Big Things you ought to check out:  Sarah FoxSally Ball, Elisabeth Workman, Jenny Browne, and Michele Battiste

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