Interview Roundup Part Two: Trethewey, Price, Schutt, Gaudry, Glaser
“What interests me most about poetry is the elegant envelope of form and the kind of density and compression that a poem demands. Because of those demands, I think I get to work more with silences than if I were writing prose. The silences are as big a part in my poems as what is being said. I believe my poems do a lot of work with what is implicit, rather than what is explicit. I just finished writing a work of creative nonfiction, Beyond Katrina, and I noticed that even in prose I have a strong tendency to circle back; repetition is a thing that I make use of constantly. It seems to me to be more natural in poetry and yet it also appears in my other writing.” – Natasha Trethewey, in Waccamaw
“No. I feel that my models came to me pretty early on, and it was who you mentioned—the early 20th century urban writers, like Richard Wright and Hubert Selby and Lenny Bruce—the language of Lenny Bruce. I like that rhythm, that high-speed, free-floating synaptic, anything comes out of your mouth, the acculturation, free-firing cultural riffs. Since then I sort of made my own way and made my own voice. I’ve read books that I admire, but nothing that made me, that taught me how to write.” – Richard Price, in Washington City Paper
“At eighteen I began reading biographies of writers: where had they gone to school? Were they married, childless, published before age thirty? Were they mad, alcoholic, suicidal, dead at forty? I was not so unhappy growing up that I did not fear the loneliness that seemed to come with being a writer; many of my favorite writers had dispiriting lives, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to suffer if that is what it took, but I did want to write. Suffering comes in many different styles, of course; mine involved years of writing and rewriting paragraphs—typing, deleting, typing again and again before giving in to a watery glue of dialogue. (Writing dialogue most often makes me cringe. Recently, I discovered that verisimilitude or interest can be had in columns of dialogue if every other line is crossed out.) To be embarrassed by a story of one’s own making that dissolves after the first wrought gesture is one way of suffering.” – Christine Schutt, in Prime Number.
“Well, there was a time when I thought Richard Russo and John Irving (and Dickens) were gods — that long, overstuffed narrative exposition was entirely where it was at. I tried to write like those guys throughout my undergraduate and M.A. years. But then I graduated and discovered Blake Butler’s story in Ninth Letter, “The Gown from Mother’s Stomach,” went to his blog, discovered online writing, small presses, venues for innovative writing, writers like Millet and Bernheimer, discovered an entire world of publishing that didn’t give a hoot about the mainstream. I discovered a love of reading short, concise forms — flash fiction and prose poems. I hacked my previous writing to bits, culled the tightest, stand-alone sections, hacked away at them some more, and then suddenly I was publishing. These discoveries led to my breakthrough, surely.” – Molly Gaudry, in Hobart
“Yes, the Pee On Water title has been troubling from before Adam Robinson. At my thesis defense, all three of my advisors advised me strongly against it. For a while, it seemed like people younger than 30 liked it, and people older than 30 did not. For a few weeks I tried to find a title to replace it, but I had been calling the bookPee On Water in my head from the time I first wrote that story, so it was a strong instinct to override.” – Rachel B. Glaser, in Rumble Magazine