Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
(pronouns: they/them/theirs) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Southeast Review and a PhD student in Poetry at Florida State University. Linge’s publications include poems in or scheduled for publication in The Journal, Poetry, Puerto del Sol, and Sonora Review, among others, and a refereed article in a special issue of African American Review on Percival Everett.
Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
Poetry is a superpower and I’m a hungry ghost.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I remember the first two poems I learned, both in first grade. One I learned in church. It was “As the Deer.” The other my eldest sister taught me: “Life’s a bitch and then you die. So, fuck the world, let’s go get high!”
That’s a lie; I don’t remember which church song I memorized first.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
I don’t understand the question and appreciate it.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Constantly changing. Right now, I have a pocket-sized notebook and a small pen that gather words, quotes, images throughout the day. Some nights I open it and string these together like webbing, give them armatures, things to cling on, ligaments. For months, I’d jot them down on the notes app in my phone, but that wasn’t wonderful. The words had no bodies, were all synthesis and binary. I’ve written too many poems while driving, with voice-to-text: my forgetter’s real good, so if I don’t write a thought down, it floats away with Billy and Pennywise! My partner doesn’t like this at all. He says, Get off your phone! And, Don’t text and drive! Then I rear-end him. True story. We didn’t report this, of course, to insurance. Plus, there’s something about motion that makes language happen. Hear the vowel sounds in that phrase? “Makes language happen.” The meter? If I were walking right now, that would be the spring in my step, would lead to another phrase, through the feet. Which is why I take to walking when I can afford time for health. For the rhythm. I walked four miles a day, at least, for the last couple months of summer. Lots of writing happened there, at the lake, in summer. But no one has time for health when school’s in session, what with grading, editing and producing literary journals, reading for prelims, teaching classes, going to meetings, having a lover. So, I have a pocket-sized notebook instead. In some ways, it’s better than health. I carry my words with me instead of looking for them.
5. What motivates you to write?
Early into emailing with my first poet-mentor, a man named Richard Siken, he said, “If you are serious, and obviously you are, you will have to look for images every day.” I kept images in a vase. On sticky notes. It became a habit, to change the world around me into language and back into objects again. On occasion, I’d spill these new objects, these things-as-stickies, on the floor. I’d cut them to pieces. Paste them on sheets with rubber cement. It became a habit, to take the things I’d see and stick them in my pocket. It disturbed me. It still does. What did I lose in doing this? What violence did I enact on these objects? Where did my pocket end? This might seem silly, but it felt serious, and this seriousness was compounded: there were so many other violences stacked on top: memories of my youth and addiction, for example, which I had to reconcile with in early sobriety; an awareness that the sky is literally burning; the fact of a century of unprecedented global genocides, and my birth toward the end orienting me somehow within these horrors, this time; 2016; then afternoons after missing my morning medicine, cycling quickly through feelings of epiphany, suicidality, homocidality; and, finally, the terror of falling in love and doing so very, very poorly… I’m overwhelmed by how ill equipped I am to live. So, I wanted to put this—all of this—in my pocket.
6. What is your work ethic?
Untenable and constant.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
More and more, I see my pockets as processes, atomic palimpsests, and see myself the same way. Again, I can’t figure the space where pockets end—they just, sort of, open.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I mean, this is limitless. There are SO many truly brilliant writers living and producing work right now. I’m stupefied even thinking about this question. This week, I heard Justin Phillip Reed read from his forthcoming book, The Malevolent Volume, and I couldn’t speak after. The entire reading was excellent, and there were moments in his reading, in his poems, that were a pinnacle. These moments felt unpassable. The weekend prior, I spent time in Indianapolis visiting friends and poets Paige Lewis and Kaveh Akbar—who both deeply inspire me, both I admire—and while in the area attended two readings put on by Purdue MFAs, and two readings by contemporary poets outside the academy… and, you know? Constant magic.
I could write a list of names, but lists are always a disservice. If anyone’s looking for admirable writers, they won’t need to look far. While I’m at it, though, I have to commend the incredible editors I work with at The Southeast Review. Karen Tucker, our fiction editor; Dyan Neary, our nonfiction editor; Jayme Ringleb and Dorsey Craft, our poetry editors—each of these editors cultivates from the depths of their expertise and HEARTS, and it shows in what we publish. Check us out. We publish new work for free every week on SERTWO: http://www.southeastreview.org/two
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I write while doing everything else. Again, I’m insatiable.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You read and write.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
This isn’t something I’ll believe by the time I’ve finished writing this sentence, but I have a working draft of a first manuscript that I’m editing and sending out.