The fabulous Carol Guess has tagged me for the Next Big Thing Series, in which writers give brief interviews about their forthcoming books. (I'm looking forward to reading the interviews of the people I've tagged at the bottom of this post.) Here goes:
What is the working title of the book?
How the Potato Chip Was Invented; there’s
a poem in the book with that name. It was inspired by a visit to the Utz factory
in Pennsylvania Dutch country. I remember watching a short video there about
the history of the chip. Basically, I took the real story, forgot large
sections of it, and replaced the forgotten sections with references to Lionel Richie. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had been writing a bunch of
mock-history prose poems. Some of these took historical figures and placed them
in impossible contexts (e.g., Fred Astaire performing with the Black Eyed
Peas), while other poems were aimed at righting wrongs; certain celebrities
received long-overdue comeuppance. The idea to focus the book solely on these
celebrity poems came from the editors, David McNamara and Brian Mihok.
What genre does your book fall under?
Prose poems, mini teleplay, standardized
test portion, etc.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
Some of the characters in the book
are movie actors: Christopher Walken and Max von Sydow, for example. I would want
them to play each other.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
These poems about celebrities are occasionally creepy and loosely
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I sat in my basement a couple of
Aprils ago and thought up dozens of “what if” scenarios involving famous people—Bob
Dylan, Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon. Then I turned these into longish prose poems
that had to be pared down. It took a couple of months to revise and turn the
poems into a manuscript.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was a journalist and advertising
copywriter before I became a poet. Some of the ideas in the book probably come
from my brain’s inability to differentiate among these disparate media. I sometimes
distort facts and serve up a poem as a tweaked biography. Anyhow, the writers
who inspired me most were David Wojahn—who wrote several brilliant,
celebrity-oriented poems in his book Mystery
Train—and my heroes of prose poetry: Russell Edson and James Tate.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I blaspheme mainstream darlings such as Thomas Kinkade and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Somehow, even Julie Andrews winds up under the proverbial bus. I also profess
my decades-long love for Rosanna Arquette.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published in summer 2013
by sunnyoutside press, which makes beautiful books. I am so fortunate to be
able to work with David and Brian.
My tagged writers for next week are:
Mary Lou Buschi