The Next Big Thing: Self Interview Project
I had the honor of being tagged by Anne Barngrover in “The Next Big Thing.” The objective of the project is for writers to complete a self-interview regarding their recent or forthcoming book, post the interview on their blog or website and tag fellow writers to do the same the following week. Anne’s titillating, whiskey-and southern-breeze-infused description of her manuscript, Yell Hound Blues is a tough act to follow, but here I go!
Today, I will be writing about my first full-length poetry book, HOW I WENT RED, which is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2014.
What is the title of the book?
HOW I WENT RED
When Isaac Newton first divided the color spectrum, he believed that there was a connection between each color and other aspects of the universe. To me, the color red constitutes life (the color of blood), but it also represents solitude because it signifies danger and risk. Its abrasiveness is sometimes off-putting, sometimes arousing - either way, it demands a heaping amount of attention that can be completely exhausting. At the end of the day, sometimes it's easier to just leave red the hell alone.
What genre does the book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What an amazing question for a television and celebrity-obsessed poet like me! I’ve been inspired by the wild, ethereal beauty of model-turned-actress Lily Cole (see image above) since I began writing this book. I think her spooky energy would be a perfect fit for the main speaker. The rest of the cast would include a young Marlon Brando, an old William Shatner and Angelica Houston. I’d also probably write in a part for Bryan Cranston – perhaps the owner of the ranch in the poem “The Stud of Gumz Farms.” Because Bryan Cranston should be in everything.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
I’m going to go with the last line of my poem, “The boys who learned to fuck from porn movies versus the boys who learned to fuck from their fathers," which is:
“When I told them how, we were all surprised.”
Much of this book is an exploration of memory and identity, and the “how” of that exploration is, in my opinion, more interesting than any possible conclusion.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This manuscript has been through several revisions, and is an entirely different book from my original graduate thesis that I completed in 2008, which might be considered a first draft. However, more than half of this book is made up of poems that I’ve written since that time. One poem was written my junior year of undergrad and one poem was written the week before I submitted it to CMU.
Who or what inspired you to write the book?
The “triggering towns” where I lived while writing it: Granville, OH, Morgantown, WV, Pittsburgh, PA and San Francisco, CA. The gorgeous, nightmarish paintings of Francis Bacon. And real life human beings.
What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?
I am an honest-to-God-from-the-bottle redhead. Also, I think this book contains a little something for everyone: transvestites, the 2007 October issue of Vogue, amnesia, the hollers of West Virginia, ice storms, horse placenta, Ecstasy, Phillip Levine, the UFC, Brooklyn, liposuction, Marc Jacobs, a jellyfish heart, Florence Nightingale and more.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book was accepted for publication during CMU’s open submission period this past year and will be out in 2014.
My (fabulous) tagged writers for next Wednesday are: