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Literary Prestidigitations on Display

15 Questions: An interview with Kristina Marie Darling


Author:  Kristina Marie Darling

BlazeVOX Books:
THE MOON & OTHER INVENTIONS: Poems After Joseph Cornell
Bio:  Kristina Marie Darling is the author of seven previous books of poetry and hybrid prose: Night Songs (Gold Wake Press, 2010), Compendium (Cow Heavy Books, 2011), The Body is a Little Gilded Cage: A Story in Letters & Fragments (Gold Wake Press, 2012), Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Palimpsest (Patasola Press, 2012), Correspondence (Scrambler Books, 2012), and The Moon & Other Inventions: Poems After Joseph Cornell (BlazeVOX Books, 2012). She also edited the forthcoming anthology narrative (dis)continuities: prose experiments by younger american writers (Moria Books, 2012). Her books have been reviewed widely in literary journals, which include The Colorado Review, Writers' Digest, The American Literary Review, Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing, Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, Stride Magazine (U.K.), and The Hiram Poetry Review. Within the past few years, her work has been honored with fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Ragdale Foundation, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Kristina is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo, where she holds a Presidential Fellowship.

15 Questions: 

Tell me about your book.

My new book, The Moon & Other Inventions, is a series of ekphrastic poems inspired by the work of visual artist Joseph Cornell, who is best known for his collage and assemblage pieces.  These work often take the form of boxes, which contain various objects, ephemera, and fragments of culture.  What I love the most about Cornell's artwork is that the relationship it creates between artist and audience.  Cornell invites the reader to imagine how the various artifacts contained within his pieces relate to one another, ultimately allowing the spectator to participate actively in the process of creating meaning from the work.  My book strives to reproduce this egalitarian relationship between artist and audience, and to allow the reader to create meaning alongside the poet herself.

What influenced this book?

The book is also influenced by Victorian culture (a lifelong passion of mine) and the rhetoric surrounding science and technology during that time period.  

Where does this book fit into your career as a writer?

Most of my other books would fit neatly into the tradition of the love lyric.  The Moon and Other Inventions is the first book I've written that doesn't incorporate a love story, beloved, or romantic relationship of any kind.  It's definitely exciting for me to grow and experiment in this way.

If you had to convince a friend or colleague to read this book, what might you tell them?

You'd be hard pressed to find another book that combines astronomy and feminism.

Tell me about the last literary reading you attended.

The last literary reading I attended as Bernadette Mayer's fabulous reading at the Vermont Studio Center.  She tried to hypnotize the audience using a very long poem.  

When did you realize you we're a writer?

I've always thought that people don't decide to become writers, but rather, they're called to become writers.  I first felt this way during my senior year of high school.  I had always struggled a lot with feeling a different, and poetry became a way for me to not only express myself, but to be part of a community as well.   

Tell us about your process: Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks ... how do you write?

I have to write things out by hand first.  If I drafted material on a word processor, I'd likely delete everything.  I find that writers are almost always their own worst critics.  

How do you handle a bad review of your work?

I get angry.  I complain to anyone who will listen.  One time I tried to throw my Blackberry in the river.  Then, after I cool down, I realize that everyone has a right to their opinion.  I should be grateful and honored that people are reading my work, whether they like everything about it or not.  

Which writer would you most like to have a drink with, and why?

I'd have to say Lisa Robertson.  I'd like to know how many of her lines I could steal without being hauled off to poetry jail.  

What's the biggest mistake you've made as a writer?

There's a bad poem I wrote when I was nineteen floating around on the internet.  Go ahead and find it.  I dare you.  

What's the worst advice you hear authors give writers?

I've heard people say that writers should begin by submitting to The New Yorker.  And they shouldn't publish in a "lesser" journal if you have the opportunity.  I think this is terrible, terrible advice.  Poetry is all about finding readers and being part of a community.  In my opinion, the prestige of a magazine has absolutely nothing to do with this.  

What scares you the most?

Prize grubbers.  I've known several, and they frighten me.  

Where do you buy your books?

There's a great independent bookstore in Buffalo called Talking Leaves Books.  They have every poetry book I could ever want, and poetry books I didn't even know I wanted until I walked into the store.  I'm lucky if I get out of there with a bill of less than two hundred dollars.  

Who are you reading now?

Bhanu Kapil's Schizophrene.  

Bonus Round: 
What do you want the world to know about you? Make it juicy ....
Although my writing is very experimental, I value all poetry.  Especially poetry that's much different from my own.  Even if a piece is written in heroic couplets, you never know when you'll learn something that will help you with a project you're working on.