Above: Diane Arbus’ sword swallower.
So Sacha Siskonen, my dear friend and a wonderful writer, has tagged me in this self-interview project called The Next Big Thing that’s been making the rounds on the writerly part of the internet. The idea is for people to answer questions about their various writing projects. I highly recommend clicking around and reading a few; the casting question alone gets some fun answers. You can read Sacha’s (much wittier!) answers to the questions here: https://saskatchewanreview.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/the-next-big-thing/. Below, find my own ramblings about the chapbook I just completed.
What is the working title of the book?
The working title of my chapbook is The Marriage. It’s named after this poem ( http://anti-poetry.com/browningan3/ ) which seems to be the piece that most captures the spirit of the thing.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The narrative arc of the book I found in retrospect. When I was shuffling through the stacks of papers where my poems spend most of their time, I noticed that several of them liked to lie on the floor next to each other. They seemed to want to go together. The next thing I knew, I had a group of poems that traced the dissolution of a romantic relationship. They also happened to follow a female narrator’s damaged psyche and changing relationship to herself over time in the context of that aftermath. And then I thought, “well, how about that,” as my grandmother likes to say.
What genre does your book fall under?
Oh, certainly poetry.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Tilda Swinton plays everybody, even the animals. It’s the only way. Or Isabella Rossellini. She’s already good at the whole playing animals thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9wRxW7v1LA
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A woman gets married, gets un-married, and goes on a very long walk to some very strange places, some of which may not exist in reality.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the first poems that would become The Marriage back in early 2011, and the last I completed this December. That makes it about two years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve admired Shirley Jackson’s unstable narrators for a long time. You know that they’re seeing the world wrongly because they’re in pain and possibly mentally ill, but they’re also funny and wise and wry by turns. I’m thinking in particular of Mary Katherine Blackwood in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. You sympathize with her even as you find her totally chilling.
I also went through a period where I read a lot of Russian folktales in which terrible things happen for no good reason in frosty landscapes, so there’s also that.
What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
One poem recasts a scene from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Another poem is written from inside a diorama of early humans at the Museum of Natural History in New York.
Another poem begins with a modified quotation from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. (PSA: It’s about time people stop vilifying Yoko.)
Oysters, starlings, and murderers all make cameo appearances.
Will your book be self-published or presented by an agency?
I’ll keep you posted!
My tagged writers:
Hey guys, you’re it–
Philip Matthews: twitter.com/philiplm26.
David Dunn: consortiumofthecurious.worpress.com
Most my writer friends have either already answered the questions or don’t have or want a blogging apparatus, so my ripple is small. If any of my writing people out there decide that you want to try this out, just let me know and I’ll be happy to tag you!