Monthly Archives: December 2016

Interview with Issue 17’s Allyson Whipple

Hope everyone’s Christmas shopping is about done and you haven’t murdered your family and put them in the crawl space. Mostly because that’s a dumb way to hide a body. Just saying, if that’s the most creativity your mind can muster, maybe Bop Dead City’s not the place for you.
ANYHOW, on a better note, this is Allyson Whipple’s interview. In addition to the information she’s been so kind to provide, might I add that she is the distant, distant descendant of one of the THREE signatories of the Declaration of Independence from New Hampshire. (probably.  I mean, they have the same last name).
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Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
Invariably born out of either love, obsession, or contemplation. Or some combination of the three.
Tell me about your poems “Hawks Don’t Circle” and “Bar Joke.” 
I spent a year trying to write a poem with the title “Hawks Don’t Circle.” I’d taken my boyfriend to a bookstore to hear a reading by a poet I really love. In my favorite poem in the collection, there’s a reference to hawks circling. My boyfriend leaned over after the poem was done and whispered, “Hawks don’t circle.” He wasn’t actually trying to be mean or anything. He was astounded that a poetry collection could make it through to publication (through a prestigious press no less) with factual errors about nature. So I spent a year trying to write a poem with that title, and I was trying to write about hawks, and then I was trying to do an ars poetica, and what happened 11 months later was that I wrote this one last poem about a breakup. This one poem that had to be written so I could really and truly let it go. This was not the way I wanted to use the title, but it’s how things ended up. And for those who would ask if the way I describe things in the poem really happened: Yes, they really happened, and no, the definitely did not happen.
“Bar Joke” is addresses the same subject matter. I had a sweet, wonderful, three-year entanglement with someone. It was not the kind of relationship where things were ever going to progress beyond a certain point, though. And one day, I found myself in a position of having to choose between the delightful thing I had, and the deep, emotional connection I had unexpected developed for someone else. I could not do both. So I had to stick with the familiar, or I had to take that proverbial leap of faith. The fact that I met both of these people in bars has always amused me. The idea of trying to frame it as a joke also amused me. It was, again, a way to reconcile the fact that making the best decision is sometimes painful.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Deep down, I think it all comes from obsession. I’ve never been someone who responds well to someone telling me, “Just get over it” or “Just let it go,” even if they mean well and they’re totally correct. But my poems aren’t just about purging past events. I have an obsessive tendency to write about landscape, especially with regards to Texas. Every time I think I’ve written my last place poem, no, the old obsession comes back. I just can’t get enough of my literary explorations of geography. I have always been a curious person. Writing is the outlet to that curiosity.
What are you working on now?
I’m focusing on completing coursework for my MFA at the University of Texas at El Paso, and trying to decide what to do for my thesis.
Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
My website/blog can be found at http://allysonmwhipple.com
Any advice for your fellow writers?
Miles Davis said, “It takes a long time to be able to play like yourself.” (I’m not sure if that’s the exact wording; I went to fact-check and found five permutations of this quotation.) The same is true for writers. It takes a long time to be able to write like yourself. Longer than you think. I started writing poetry when I was 12, in 1996. It wasn’t until 2013 that I even began to feel like I was finding my actual poetic voice.

Interview with Issue 17’s Ava C. Cipri

Two days in a row! Wyatt, I am rolling. Here’s Ava, author of the fantastic poem “The Monstrous Thing.” Read the interview and learn a few things (I know I did).

 

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Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
Bearing witness by giving voice to the unnameable, the unthinkable, through the exploration of boundaries and barriers, and realizing it’s part of the human condition.

 

Tell me about your poem “The Monstrous Thing.” Where did you come up with the idea? What is an erasure poem?
I can’t look away; I often stare too long into the void of Miller and Nins’ illustrious affair. In the past, I’ve used some of their quotes as a springboard into my own writing, but this is the first time that I actually pulled directly from their source material. In this case, for “The Monstrous Thing” I used some notable Miller quotes constructing an erasure. An erasure is a type of found poem, where the poet sculpts her way in by erasing the majority of the text, leaving select words and phrases that, when read in order, reveal a new derivate work.

 

Who or what inspires you to write?
Since childhood, I’ve always been a window seat kind of person from the school bus to inside the classroom. I always needed another world to consider, to take refuge in. I have that with writing, but I’ve also experienced it with dance. The arts have the power to transcend the unbearable.

I’m inspired by writers who defy gravity with their beautiful craftsmanship: Mark Doty, Louise Glück, and Elizabeth Bishop. Then there are those that dismantle me like Etheridge Knight, Agha Shahid Ali, and Carolyn Forché. Ultimately, something must be at stake.

 

Editor to editor, how did you get involved with The Deaf Poets Society? What’s your selection process like?

The founder, Sarah Katz put a call out into the universe and I seized the opportunity to help shape an online journal that is staffed by disabled individuals, seeking work by disabled writers and artists. It is a platform to expand narratives about the experience of disability that complicate or altogether undo the dominant and typically marginalizing rhetoric about disability. Each submission is read in its entirety. I’m one of three poetry editors, and we all weigh in equally when making decisions. For myself, I’m always looking for poetry that is daring, unexpected and engages my senses. Ideally it is like experiencing a brain freeze after a bite of ice-cream; it has to linger creating an internal shift.

 

What are you working on now?
In addition to finishing my first full-length collection for submission, I’m circulating two chapbooks, and assembling a third. Then there is some experimentation happening with the lyric essay.

 

Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
Yes, I’m over at: www.avaccipri.com

 

Any advice for your fellow writers?

Find a community of writers that meets your most important writerly needs. That may be in the form of a workshop or a reading series. Or, perhaps, like myself, its purpose is for submitting your work and celebrating both acceptances and rejections, knowing it is all part of the process. Knowing, this is the work that’s needed to finally become published. It is easy to become discouraged when we stay in our own heads; I have found community to be essential.


Pushcart Prize Nominees Are Out

So it’s that time again, everyone: time to make a futile effort to get the great writers featured in Bop Dead City recognized for their achievements by the Pushcart Press. I chose some of my favorite poems and stories from the past year, and here they are:
Issue 17
“(Ah)” by Gregory Sherl
“Skin” by Preeti Talwai
Issue 16
“El Barril (The Barrel)” by Sarah Frances Moran
Issue 15
“Freighthopping” by Alison Liu
“The Vest” by Lauren Spinabelli
Issue 14
“Ascending Descent” by Richard Manly Heiman
A big thank you and congratulations to these six writers. If you’d like to read their work, please get you a copy on our buy page. If I hear anything about a winner, you all will be the first to know. In the meantime, at least they’ll be able to add “Pushcart nominee” to their bios.
Come back tomorrow when we’ll be interviewing another contributor to Issue 17.