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Literary Prestidigitations on Display

15 Questions: An interview with Anne-Adele Wight

 We are inaugurating a new series at BlazeVOX, Author Interviews. In fifteen questions we hope to introduce you to our authors and poets. Each writer has a story that brought him or her to write a book. Through in-depth interviews with detailed questions and searching topics being covered as writers from all walks of life talk about the highs and lows in their writing. It is my pleasure to bring you an interview with a wonderful Philadelphia poet, Anne-Adele Wight. She has two books with BlazeVOX, Opera  House  Arterial andSidestep Catapult.

Author:           Anne-Adele Wight
Bio: Anne-Adele Wight is an active member of the Philadelphia poetry landscape. Her work has been published widely and featured at many local venues. She is the author of Sidestep Catapult (BlazeVOX, 2011). The opera house has followed her around since 1983 and only recently agreed to show its faces.
15 Questions
Tell me about your book.  Opera House Arterial is a mythology in 56 poems. All the poems focus on a trickster spirit in the form of an independently mobile opera house. Any mode of travel is possible: it can fly, swim, glide, crash through trees, or appear suddenly in a couple’s bed. If you can’t find it, check the muddy shallows under a bridge. Opera house is up to no good, and the mischief escalates in the final section of the book. 

 What influenced this book?  In 1983 a friend showed me a postcard she’d received from Ecuador. It showed a view of Teatro Nacional Sucre, the 19th-century opera house in Quito. Buildings in the foreground made the opera house appear to be floating, and the Andes rose high in the background. The picture struck deep into my brain, and I instantly wanted to write a poem. I could never make that poem stick. In 2011 I finally realized I was dealing with a whole collection of poems, not just one. As soon as I did, the book took off.

 Where does this book fit into your career as a writer?  This is my second full-length book of poems. The first was Sidestep Catapult (BlazeVOX, 2011).

 If you had to convince a friend or colleague to read this book, what might you tell them?  (1) You’ve never encountered a trickster opera house––aren’t you curious?  (2) If you read this book you’ll get a sneak peek at the end of the world.  (3) What’s a mug of phosphorus? What’s a scrim of combines?  (4) If you don’t read this book the opera house will come after you.

 Tell me about the last literary reading you attended.  The last reading I attended wasn’t strictly poetry, but poetic fiction. Kim Gek Lin Short and Christian TeBordo read from recent work at Philadelphia’s Penn Book Center.

 When did you realize you were a writer?  When I was eleven I wrote a dreary long-short story, full of clichés, that wouldn’t leave me alone. I started writing poetry in my early teens. There have been dry spells during which I never expected to write again, but the vein always flows when it’s ready.

 Tell us about your process: Pen and paper, computer, notebooks ... how do you write?  All of the above. I carry a notebook and keep another by the bed. Sometimes I look at a tangle of lifeless notes and walk away from them. Then, when I’m thinking about something else, a current turns on in my head and I’ll see and hear the pattern of the poem. Once I was cutting an onion in the kitchen and had to stop suddenly because an onion poem broke loose.
The computer helps me get my scrawl in order. When I start typing my notes I see more in them than was apparent from my handwriting. Also, a typescript helps me assemble elements that I didn’t realize belonged in the same place––often I think I’m working on two poems until they run together like mercury beads and become one.

How do you handle a bad review of your work?  There haven’t been any yet, but only because I’ve had so few reviews. I’d probably keep some good reviews on hand to snatch up in case of a bruised ego. Maybe a few choice curses.

 Which writer would you most like to have a drink with, and why?  Aside from the ones I drink with regularly? Anne Waldman. I’d love to discuss her book-length poem Manatee, Humanity. I’d also like to hear her take on Boulder, Colorado, as a place for a poet to live.
What's the biggest mistake you've made as a writer?  Giving up too soon. Trying to figure everything out consciously instead of letting the unconscious process do its work.

 What's the worst advice you hear authors give writers?  To compromise their own voice just because it’s distinctive or runs against the current. Distinctiveness gets writers noticed and the current will always change.

 What scares you the most?  The thought of falling into obscurity. That’s ridiculous because not many people know me anyway.

 Where do you buy your books?  At readings. I also try to order from small presses and SPD rather than Amazon. In keeping with that practice I try to support independent bookstores, although if a large chain store has a book I want I’ll get it.

 Who are you reading now?  I just finished diatomhero: religious poems by Lisa A. Flowers (Vulgar Marsala Press) and Thunderbird by Dorothea Lasky (Wave Books). Because I like some prose in the mix, I also just finished The Lost City of Z by David Grann (Vintage), the biography of an Amazon explorer who vanished in 1925. Now I’m reading Kings of the F**king Sea by Dan Boehl (Birds, LLC) and Glass Is Really a Liquid by Bruce Covey (No Tell Books).

Bonus Round: 
What do you want the world to know about you? Make it juicy ....  I love spicy food and fear birds. I believe karma visits you in the same life that generated it. My household is ruled by cats.