I’m curious: what’s your elevator pitch for your book?
It’s a book about whiteness and womanhood in the age of the internet. It reckons with personal responsibility and culpability, feminism, and more. I hope it’s also funny!
How did you come upon the subject of your book?
I just started writing poems, pretty much! My first book had just been published (in 2012) and I wanted to keep up the momentum of writing, so I did a NaPoWriMo that April (where you write a poem a day for the whole month). The first poems that ended up being in this book were written then. Many of them are very angry, very angsty and pissed off. They feel like little sour radish babies to me…not all of them made the final cut but I still feel very maternal over those mean little poems.
Over time, the theme of race began to play a bigger part in the book. I was thinking a lot about my own privilege and my own whiteness, my own positionality at this cultural moment and what it really, truly means (or even can mean) to be a certain kind of liberal, educated white person who considers themselves an ally of marginalized people. I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy in it, in fact, which I hope comes across in the book. I tried not to leave myself off the hook in my critique of these things in FAT DAISIES.
And the title? Sometimes, it seems to me, titles can strike like lightning or can be extraordinarily elusive. How did you go about finding your title?
FAT DAISIES is the title of one of the poems in the book. It stood out to me as a way to encapsulate some of the overarching ideas and images of the book, this idea that we, as Americans, are “fat daisies.” We’re beautiful in our ordinariness, but bloated and bulbous, too.
Tell us something about the most difficult thing you encountered in this book’s journey.
I think the most difficult thing about this book was finding the courage to finish it. I had it accepted for publication ages before I finished writing it—I just felt scared to keep going, to write into the ideas and images that made me uncomfortable and testy and scared. But my friend and editor pushed me (nicely and sometimes not so nicely) and it worked, in the end.
And the most pleasurable?
The most pleasurable aspect of writing FAT DAISIES was finding my groove in a conversational, no-bullshit tone. When I was a younger poet, I felt a lot more self-conscious about writing work that was casual in tone, that engaged with pop culture or gross things about the human body or things that were not “timeless.” I know I felt it wasn’t “poetic” to write in and of the vernacular that I spoke in every day. I pushed past this notion a lot with my last book, PRETTY TILT, but with FAT DAISIES, I just went for it, all in, and it was amazingly fun. And so satisfying!
What’s the best and / or worst piece of advice (writing or publishing or similar) you’ve gotten?
I think the worst advice is that old adage that’s tossed around a lot, that whole thing of “Unless you’ll die if you don’t write, you shouldn’t write.” To me, that’s total bullshit. Being a writer and a poet is a big part of my life, but it is by no means the center of my life, or even the most important thing in it. I think this kind of rhetoric is ridiculously short-sighted and very damaging to new writers. We can and should contain multitudes, right?! I’m a better, more engaged writer when my writing is one of multiple ways I spend my energy and passions.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to write things that scare you. When I started doing that, my poetry completely transformed.
Tell us one of your favorite books you’ve discovered recently and say a little about why.
I love love love love love THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR by Rufi Thorpe. It’s one of the most hilarious and devastating and just goddamn true books that I have ever read about female friendship. I cried while I was reading it—and I NEVER cry at books.
Can you share an excerpt from your book? Give us a taste.
This originally appeared in WHISKEYPAPER! It’s called “The End of Antennas”
All afternoon I congratulate myself
on my industrious progress, words swimming
across the screen & plants freshly watered,
the balm for the soul of the meal-planned,
the vacuumed. That black hole, though.
The asteroids that are out there. All
of the bright bad things that can happen—
my uterus losing its right to itself &
the scorching of California.
Why should I want a bring a baby into this world
where we’re running out of water
& we’re running out of time?
But medieval people thought the world was going to end, too,
I remind myself: with Michaelangelo
& penicillin & camera phones still yet to come
to make us smart & healthy,
to fill our eyes.
Now we are our own auteurs.
The future’s slowly turning into yawns across
miles, every day like the beauty of the burnt-
out log in the bosque, the breath of the stoner
boys down the street, their fuzzy dirty hair,
the thick pulsing of their arteries.
My neighbor’s tire treads make the unlikely
shape of a heart in the baking brown dirt
so I think it’s a sign of the small things,
& how they can keep us safe.
It’s the end of the day, the end of the
story, the end of antennas.
What’s a question you wish I asked? (And how would you answer it?)
I wish you asked me what music I listened to when I wrote this book! I’m always interested to know what people listen to when they write. I am not one of those who can’t write if the music has lyrics—I write to all kinds of things. This book was written to a soundtrack of One Direction, Tanya Tucker, John Prine, Angel Haze, The Dixie Chicks, vintage Hawaiian music and the Friday Night Lights soundtrack playlist on Spotify.
OK, we’re smitten. Where do we go to buy your book?
Please buy it directly from Big Lucks or Small Press Distribution!!