What’s wrong with you?
Wow. Interesting starter question. A little hostile. First thing that comes to mind–vanity. But a dishonest kind of vanity, a disowned vanity. Checking my reflection in store windows but then making sure no one was watching vanity. Making fun of women who get plastic surgery vanity. I’m pretty ashamed of it.
So growing old will be painful for you?
Why don’t you get a real job?
Wow. Have you eaten today? Poetry is a real job. I teach and perform and write and–fine. Why no “real job”? Fluorescent lighting. And authority. And some other aversions. Mostly I’m just trying to be happy. If I thought a steady paycheck would make me happy, I would hunt it down and tame it. It would be my bitch.
Interesting, Mindy. Did you mean to fix your hair that way?
Ok. Describe your favorite kind of morning.
Foggy with the promise of afternoon sun. Cold clean kitchen tile. Bare feet. Fresh coffee. Vince Guaraldi’s Cast Your Fate To The Wind on the stereo. Comfortable underwear. Rallying myself awake for whatever I have to do. And then suddenly having all my plans get cancelled on me.
So if this were one of those personality tests, how would you get around the wall—climbing over it? Walking around it? Exploding it?
Your new book just out on Write Bloody is called Rise of the Trust Fall. Were you forced to go to a lot of church camps when you were growing up?
Who are some of your heroes?
Vaclav Havel. The playwright/poet-turned-Czech President. I would learn to brew beer for that guy. I want him to teach me how to be confrontational with so much style and grace and intelligence. Also Hillary Clinton. For taking one for Team Vagina about ten thousand times and still coming out smiling. She makes me want to be a better woman.
That’s so sweet. Are you trying to reveal something about your presidential political aspirations?
I took measures when I was younger, photographic measures, to prevent any kind of political career from ever blossoming.
I heard you worked at a sex shop for a few years after college. Was there anything at the store that freaked you out, or was it all like, “dong this, dong that,” whatever?
Yeah. Sex toy retail will really desensitize you. In several important ways. But there were two things at the store that creeped me out: a set of Afrocentric Productions playing cards that were all cum-shots-on-the-face. All the women in the photos were squinting or wincing, you know? To keep the jizz out of their eyes. It was traumatizing. And then there were this pocket pussies shaped like tiny bound women.
Wow. I can see how that would rub you the wrong way. So to –
I get the pun.
Okay. Final question: If you could give aspiring writers any tips on becoming better writers, what would they be?
First, read everything. When you find something that makes you feel, that makes you want to quit writing you love it so much, read it over and over and over. Try to absorb what makes it work, what makes it so good. Try to reverse-osmosis it into your own writing. Second, whenever possible, find a community of poets you can be a part of. Weird, free, fun, strange poets. Poets who take risks and aren’t always nice, but are passionate and eccentric and smart. Work really hard at impressing them. Third, fix that self-confidence thing as quickly as possible, and as often as possible; it’s probably what’s holding you back.