Mark Gluth <[email protected]>
Jul 4, 2020, 1:10 PM
to Thomas

Hey Man, I thought I’d kick off our conversation if you are ok with that.

When I think about Alone I think it is a very self aware book. I mean the mind beneath the surface of the book comes off as having a clear idea of what it is. It seems to know what it doesn’t know as well. In this way I see it as a book that impacts what it interacts with as opposed to being impacted by it. Conversely, with Come Down To Us, I always pictured the book being like a home movie being projected on a sheet hanging at the dark end of a barn. Drafts make the sheet move and distort the image and light makes it through the roof and blots out portions of the film.

 

Thomas Moore
Jul 4, 2020, 3:06 PM
to me

I think that you’re right. Definitely that the book is there and very much ready to collaborate with whoever picks it up, with their imagination or thoughts or whatever. I love how you describe Come Down To Us. It’s an apt scene that you imagine because I always think of your writing as being very visual – I see your books so vividly when I read them. You have a skill of being able to really help or entice the mind into building these super rich scenes – you can feel the damp moss on trees, the weather is always so palpable. Do you have these really strong images appearing to you before you write them – are the ideas born like that? I ask, because I’m very much not a visual writer. For the most part, when I write, it’s the language that occurs to me. I rarely see things and then write about them – the words are just there to be lined up and rearranged.

 

Mark Gluth
Jul 4, 2020, 10:16 PM
That’s interesting about how the words are there for you, I think that gets at what I was saying about how I don’t see Alone being impacted by outside forces. Your writing often has this vibe, a confidence perhaps, where it seems like it considers anything outside of itself as besides the point. That’s something I admire about it for sure. For me, the mood is always the most important thing. Everything beneath it is a hodge podge that serves the goal of conveying that mood. I rewrite everything so much, and I know the drafts are moving in the right direction that when I read them back they cause a vague little film to play in my head.

 

Thomas Moore
Jul 5, 2020, 12:27 AM
to me

I mean that the ideas come in words rather than visuals. The first sentence of Alone came first and hovered round in my brain for a while before I started the book – it doesn’t always start like that. But this one sentence appeared out of nowhere without any other context; there was no scene in my head or any notion of anything else. Rather than confidence, I always think that a lot of my writing is about confusion. Maybe because by the time they are finished I’ve messed around with the texts so much and edited so much out, perhaps they are just zipped shut and hermetic or something – maybe that comes across as the confidence you can feel? I dunno. Similar to what you say – I always think in terms of mood – that kind of trumps anything else when I’m writing.

Oh – I mentioned my first sentence, which reminded me that I wanted to ask about yours – that first sentence in Come Down To Us is really something! It’s like this spiralling sensation – straight away it pulls you around and forces you inside the text – it kind of calls for this extra level of attention that I think is really important with your writing in that there always seems to be a lot happening with the sentences. It can be disorientating, which I really enjoy as a reader. Can you talk a little bit about how you started the book like that – is that where it started?

The Walk Home

(after Julian Schnabel’s “The Walk Home”)

I may be wrong, Dad, but I think that you think I don’t think about you. I can sense it when you leave that rare message on my phone, as if I choose not to pick it up, and your voice goes tinny and far away: “Well, I’d like to hear how you’re doing. I love you, son,” with a lilt in your voice right at the end, an ellipsis, as if you think I would hesitate to say those words back to you.

What are you afraid of?

ACT 1
i’m stooping scooping
ants out of their home
where grass meets path

The Good Humor ice cream stick
catapults them into the air
to drop and scurry crazily about

i dig with a vengeance
faster and deeper
to get to the bottom of things

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Nick Flynn. His new memoir, This is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire, is available from W.W. Norton & Co. It is the official August pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Flynn is the author of three previous memoirs, including the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award–winning Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and four volumes of poetry. A professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

 

How do you synthesize what feels like nine lives, consolidate them into one?

Giant-sized puzzles take time to assemble, especially jigsaws with four different

I do plots. Raised in Barbie-Cinderella era, unrealistic narratives

 

skewed your sense of reality. Grateful for your upbringing, girlhood was cushioned

with advantage: stylish clothing, summer travel, pricey dinners at fancy restaurants.

As if your early story had been written in purple prose. After your father died,

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Stephen Graham Jones. His latest novel, The Only Good Indians, is available from Gallery Books.

 

Jones is the author of twenty-five or so novels and collections, and there’s some novellas and comic books in there as well. Stephen’s been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, a Bram Stoker Award, four This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. He’s also made Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Mesha Maren. Her debut novel, Sugar Run, is available from Algonquin Books.

 

Maren’s short stories and essays can be read in Tin HouseThe Oxford American, The Guardian, CrazyhorseTriquarterly, The Southern Review, Ecotone, Sou’westerHobart, Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation grant, an Appalachian Writing Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation. She was the 2018-2019 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Duke University and also serves as a National Endowment of the Arts Writing Fellow at the federal prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Sabrina Orah Mark. Her story collection, Wild Milk, is available from The Dorothy Project.

 

 

Sabrina grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in English from the University of Georgia. She is the author of the book-length poetry collections The Babies (2004), winner of the Saturnalia Book Prize chosen by Jane Miller, and Tsim Tsum (2009), as well as the chapbook Walter B.’s Extraordinary Cousin Arrives for a Visit & Other Tales from Woodland Editions.

Her poetry and stories most recently appear in American Short Fiction, The Bennington Review,  Tin House (Open Bar), The Collagist, jubilat, The Believer, and have been anthologized widely.

She lives in Athens Georgia with her husband, Reginald McKnight, and their two sons. For The Paris Review she writes a monthly column on fairytales and motherhood entitled HAPPILY.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Hilary Leichter. Her debut novel, Temporary, is available from Coffee House Press.

 

 

Hilary teaches at Columbia University, where she earned her MFA in Fiction. She has received fellowships from The Edward F. Albee Foundation, the Table 4 Writers Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She lives in New York.

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the mouth is so ridiculous

 

it’s way too important

to me, like a hole

among all the leaves

it’s a project

to me

 

 

 

I want high blood

 

or I want the blood

to be high up there

 

 

 

imagine standing ovations

 

that span over

an entire life

look what the cat dragged in

an entire life

it can be minimalism

this is burning

 

 

 

I’ve heard

 

that there are schools

that are more neurotic

than other schools

1.
During the quarantine, we were all in the living room,
the four of us, playing a game,
an unremarkable afternoon in April,
National Poetry Month,
and a small bird flew in through the dog’s foot-wide opening
in the sliding glass door to the backyard,
and the dog, Berkeley,
sprang up and barked and ran to the dining room
where the bird was fluttering against the glass and falling—
I could hear it, it was painful—
and before we could protest enough he had killed the small
gray-feathered bird with a swift, vicious bite.

Okay, let’s start with the title of your debut collection, ‘all these urban fields’ — what are urban fields? What does this mean to you?

Hey, me! A very good question right off the bat, if I do say so myself! A friend once texted me, ‘i was on the subway & saw all of these air conditioners sprawled out on the roof of an apartment building, like this whole field, & i finally got it, i got your title!’

If that text doesn’t fully answer your question, then let’s go with this: I lived in Brooklyn — urban — for two years, and while it was a daunting experience in many ways, it was also incredibly fulfilling. That being said, I could not have lived there, could not have fully survived, I don’t think, without drawing from the experiences I had on a farm in Vermont — pastoral – and my trips to smaller towns in Massachusetts. I think, in essence, the title — and the collection as a whole — is meant to be an ode to both types of landscapes, to how well they balance one another out.

i.

interest me, in me, lost woman amongst the garden cubes.
the fire that, finally, really burned, in real time — our home
in maine drowned under the saint george river.                       yes I

tore the body

that we wanted

plucked the weeds we wetted
(the bare chests)

when the bears crawled, at night, to our bed (burned),
we made it out alive because we were not yet sleeping.

it was alright because you — gosh — held my hand

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Leigh Stein. Her new novel, Self Care, is available from Penguin.

 

This is Leigh’s third time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 105, on September 16, 2012, and again in Episode 407, with Lux Alptraum, on March 30, 2016.

Stein is a writer interested in what the internet is doing to our identities, relationships, and politics. She is also the author of the memoir Land of Enchantment, the poetry collection Dispatch from the Future, and the novel The Fallback Plan. Her non-fiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker online, Allure, ELLE, Poets & Writers, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Salon, and Slate.

From 2014 – 2017, she was cofounder and executive director of Out of the Binders/BinderCon, a feminist literary nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women and gender variant writers. Nearly 2,000 writers attended BinderCon events in NYC and LA, to hear speakers including Lisa Kudrow, Anna Quindlen, Claudia Rankine, Jill Abramson, Elif Batuman, Effie Brown, Leslie Jamison, Suki Kim, and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Leigh also moderated the private Facebook community of 40,000 writers.

Leigh is no longer on Facebook.

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Returning from Dunkin’ with my daily order of large iced coffee with cream and sugar, large iced matcha with whole milk, everything bagel with strawberry cream cheese, hash browns, and the little bag they fill with small strips of seasoned bacon, I’d envisioned a Saturday spent watching the last half of the last episode of Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist then working on writing until it came time to sleep, but the sparrow that appeared on the ledge had other plans. I can’t pinpoint why I was in the kitchen but I was, the window wide open without insect screen. The sparrow and I sized each other up in a sick twisted game of What Happens Next? I itched for it to do something other than sit and swivel its head because I wanted to milk it for a more interesting image—it didn’t budge. This is an autofiction novel so I can invent sparrow fiascos whenever the hell I want but everything on the page so far, save an inconsequential detail or three, has been true, so it didn’t cross my mind to ascribe actions to a bird that hadn’t performed them; I started to craft a sentence about disappointment—then, in an awkward flapping fit, it pulled itself to the dish rack, did a shit, and flung itself inside the drop ceiling. It got in through the missing section under the fluorescents and I watched it skitter across the other plastic panels, splattering them with well over a dollar’s worth of dime-sized defecations.