Okay, poet, what’s your favorite word in English. And why.

Cusp.
It’s a meeting place. It’s undefined, flexible, mysterious.
I like the variety of sounds. The hard kah. How the sexy  s  kisses the  p.

 

And your favorite word in another language.

Anaranjado, which means orange (the color, not fruit) in Spanish.
It sounds like a five-syllable sentence. Whispered. I feel flirtatious when I say it.
Anaranjado: rolls out like, I really love you or I want to hold you.

 

What dead celebrity would you want to interview. And three questions you’d ask.

Gertrude Stein.

  • How soon after meeting Alice did you know she was the one?
  • Who should play you if there’s ever a biopic about you?
  • Why isn’t there a biopic about you?

 

How have you surprised yourself recently?

I rented a van and drove across country and back this summer. During the pandemic. I called it social long distancing. 8 weeks. 8,000 miles.

 

If you weren’t a poet, what kind of artist would you want to be. 

A choreographer. Which is ridiculous. Because I don’t dance or know much about dance. But I find choreography fascinating. How the dancers communicate with each other. Through their bodies, movement. The choreographer has to know what each one’s doing and where and how that fits into the larger story. It’s like novel writing. Making sure everyone lands at the right place at the right time. They must speak to one another, telling a story together but retaining their own natural trajectory. It’s as complex as the workings of a hive. But has to flow as easy as honey.

 

Aside from poets and poems, three things that influence your poetry.

  1. Comedy. Timing, word choice, narrative, imagery, the power of punchlines, social commentary. It’s poetry to me. Current comic crushes: Amy Sedaris, Jessica Kirson, Yamaneika Saunders.
  2. The way people speak. It can be elegant or everyday. Like when my father used quadruple negatives: I don’t got nothing for nobody never no how. I heard poetry when he spoke.
  3. Stevie Nicks, though some consider her a poet.

 

Which Stevie song could’ve been written for you? And which do you wish you wrote?

  • Written for me? “Rooms on Fire.” Because that’s exactly how I’ve felt when falling in love. That quirky bassline. Chimes like goosebumps. She gets it.
  • Wish I wrote? “Garbo,” b-side to “Stand Back.” A waltz about Greta with the most beautiful line: “Venus doesn’t glitter when she stands next to you.”

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MICHAEL MONTLACK is the editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press) and author of the poetry collections Cool Limbo (NYQ Books) and Daddy (NYQ Books) and three chapbooks. His poems have appeared in North American Review, The Offing, Hotel Amerika, The Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, and Los Angeles Review. His essays have been in Huffington Post and Advocate.com. He lives in NYC and teaches for CUNY and Gotham Writers Workshop.

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