My fellow 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow S J Sinduasked me to take part in this writing meme-blog tour hybrid. It’s a way for readers of other blogs to find new writers and for us writers to meet new readers. Welcome! I am primarily a poet and also write the occasional essay. I also am the poetry editor of two literary magazines: 5×5 Literary Magazine and Codex Journal! I would love to see your poems and if you happen to write in another genre, our other editors would love to see your work as well! So, on with the blog tour questions:
What am I working on? I’ve just started sending out my first manuscript of poems called Who Am I to Tell You This? so I am in a bit of a post-project slump. I’ve been cobbling poems together here and there, but nothing definitive has come together yet. I’ve also begun research on a prominent figure in Pacific Northwest history. I intend to write an essay using some of this person’s writing in tandem with my own. No doubt, this will launch a whole series of poems that branch off in new directions like ivy across brick. I don’t want to say too much about it at this point, but the essay will focus on growing up in Montana, being queer, and my struggle to come to terms with the impact this historical figure had on my childhood.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? I have always hated artist statements; they feel a bit like preening. The main thing that makes my work different from others in its genre is that I am the only one writing my poems. That’s an easy out.
What I mean to say is that few writers are producing poems about the queer experience from nonurban centers. I don’t know a great many queer poets who are writing about landscape and environment. My work’s strengths are image and sound. Think Ziggy Stardust on an episode of Nova meets the musical Oklahoma.
Why do I write what I do? I write because I have to. I am compelled to put words on paper and then obsessively arrange them and rearrange them. I don’t know what started this. I’ve always written for myself, but didn’t think that one could write poetry to share with others until about seven years ago. I was reading some poems and felt the need to try my hand at it. I haven’t looked back.
I also write because I want my work to live somewhere outside of my head. I dream about finding my book in a bookstore some day and then in a used bookstore after that–maybe a used inscribed copy to someone whom I remember. I want my work to find someone who wants it as much as I do.
How does your writing process work? I put a lot of scraps and lines down on paper . Usually I jot a part of a poem or several ideas about a poem…lines, images, groupings of words and let them accumulate on the page. When I think there is enough there to work with, I begin building poems out of the pieces–sort of a lean-to from the branches I collected if you will allow the metaphor.
From there, I shut the poem away and then come back to it again in a few days or weeks depending on how urgent my need to look at it again is. Sometimes I know exactly what it needs next. Sometimes I need to back away slowly and leave it rest. Poems take a good while for me after the drafting stage. There are revisions, and rebreaking lines, and deciding what isn’t essential. And of course, this all happens more than once. Oh, and I compose longhand first 99% of the time. I feel like if I type a poem out on the page it loses some of its organic ability to change shape for me. Typing gives words/lines/space a kind of codification that can set a poem too quickly into a shape that may not be the best for it.
Thus concludes a bit about my writing. If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so @poetryphone
Please check out the following writers, who are also participating in this great blog tour…
Sara Galactica is a tattoo pusher. Big hair believer. Whiskey drinker. Microhistorian. Business lady by day, introvert by night. A little bit nerdy, a little bit rock and roll. saragalactica.com
Joshua Barton is a writer, journalist, and photographer documenting queer life and love in St. Louis, Missouri. He blogs at: www.newamuricangospels.tumblr.com(#nsfw)