BlazeVOX extra

Literary Prestidigitations on Display

15 Questions: An interview with Christopher Shipman


Author:  Christopher Shipman
BlazeVOX Book: Human-Carrying Flight Technology
Bio:  Shipman is author of Romeo’s Ugly Nose (Allography Press), Human-Carrying Flight Technology(Blaze VOX Books), the chapbook I Carved Your Name (Imaginary Friend Press), and co-author with DeWitt Brinson of the chapbook Super Poems (Kattywompus Press)Latest poems appear in journals such asBayou, H_NG_MAN, The Offending AdamPANK, So and So Magazine, Spork Press and TENDE RLOIN,among others. Shipman has been featured on Verse Daily, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has been on finalist lists for various poetry book prizes, and has won the love of Sarah K. Jackson. Shipman is poetry editor for DIG Magazine of Baton Rouge and lives in New Orleans, where he teaches lit and creative writing to high schoolers.
15 Questions:
Tell me about your book.
Human-Carrying Flight Technology is a collection of poems of various styles and forms that attempt to reconcile fear and love, dreams and waking, connection and disconnection, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, and everything else that comes with being a human. The collection’s central metaphor is its namesake: Human-Carrying Flight Technology. This metaphor may conjure up images of hot air balloons, airplanes, etc., but few of these devices make it into the book. The flight technology that carries us here is family, friends, little moments and big, fear, doubt, love, desire, religion, death, and poetry itself.    
What influenced this book?
Life influenced this book, and all the wonderful poets I have worked with and read.
Where does this book fit into your career as a writer?
Human-Carrying Flight Technology was my first book.
If you had to convince a friend or colleague to read this book, what might you tell them?
Read this book if you want to be lifted up or let down. Read this book if you don’t want to read the same poem over and over.
Tell me about the last literary reading you attended.
The last reading I attended was the first reading for the recently formed New Orleans Poetry Brothel. This reading consisted of musicians, acrobats, tarot readers, burlesque dancers, buskers, and among other wonders, poets in full costume and character. I read as Jack-Cat the Kitten-Prince of the Palace. More info and news about upcoming events can be found here: New Orleans Poetry Brothel
When did you realize you were a writer?
I wrote a story about a ghost grizzly bear when I was nine. I felt an amazing sense of something I couldn’t explain. Like I had created a world. Or discovered one.
Tell us about your process: Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks ... how do you write?
A lot of my poems these days seem to starts on my notes page on my iPhone. I like being able to get ideas down very quickly and being able to work on the poems whenever I want to. The real work comes from transferring the poems from the phone to the computer. 
How do you handle a bad review of your work?
Sometimes a bad review helps, but sometimes a bad review is bad because the reviewer hasn’t really taken the time to understand how a specific aspect of the book fits in with the overall work. Or the reviewer focuses on a single aspect of the collection when there are more important aspects to consider. I refer to reviews of my own book and those of others. Some reviewers tend to be too subjective. 
Which writer would you most like to have a drink with, and why?
Charles Simic. Because he has blown my hair back more than any other.
What's the biggest mistake you've made as a writer?
Not learning how to properly publicize my work.
What's the worst advice you hear authors give writers?
“Don’t over-saturate your audience.” I guess what this means is don’t publish everything. I say write it and send it out and if people want to publish it let them do it and move on to the next project. I guess I say this because of my answer to the next question. 
What scares you the most?
Where do you buy your books?
At poetry readings and from poetry press websites.
Who are you reading now?
Dave Brinks, Li-Young Lee, and J.D. Salinger.
Bonus Round
What do you want the world to know about you? Make it juicy .... 
My Murderer has stalked me my entire life. He stood beside the basinet the day I was brought home from the hospital. And there he was again at my first birthday party. My parents must have thought he was a distant cousin they hadn’t seen in years. If you’re thinking this sounds like a scene from a scary movie, I think so too, and that’s what it would feel like if I could remember, but it was my first birthday, so I don’t, I just imagine a Superman cake with one blue candle stuck in his red chest and people peering over at what must be the little me and, any one of them, my murderer.