Let’s not do this. How much meat are on these bones?

I … don’t understand?

 

Where do you go from here? What’s next? Is this book thing as big a deal as you thought it would be?

Well, yes, it’s a very big deal to me, it’s everything I’ve worked for since I was a teen, for three decades, it’s . . .

Photo credit: Farah Sosa, Courtesy of the California Arts Council

Why are your Poems so Dark?

I hesitate to define poems as light or dark, because I think the poem exists as it is, in its own sphere, its own space.  A poem tells its own story, and poems are supposed to tell some sort of essential truth. There is light in the world and darkness, of course. When we write from the dark space, we are simply tapping into one of the parts of the world that exists and needs a voice.  Many people who read my poems, tell me that my work has opened up a space in them that they didn’t know existed , or didn’t give permission to exist. I think in order to be fully in touch with ourselves as a writer, we need to allow all of the shades of our writing to make an entrance into the room.

Why?

Fuck him, he deserves to be devoured.

 

Who?

Mark and I often send pieces of Art and/or Words to each other. More often than not, we ignore them! But sometimes a piece will inspire the other to create something. It works both ways – Art & Words and Words & Art.

All of your parents—both birth and adoptive—are dead. How do you feel about the fact that they never had the chance to read some of the things you’ve written about them?

I’m not sure they have never read them; are you? Actually, I think my dad would get a kick out of recalling how much he enjoyed that Life magazine cover shot of Dorothy Dandridge (see: “Daddy Registered Republican, 1931—[1]“), however, I don’t think my mother would appreciate being reminded of our conversation about my “sexual exploits” (ha!) (see: “Red Background”).

Photo credit: Giuliana Maresca

So, the title, “Lullabies for End Times”…

Pure coincidence. If you believe in that kind of thing.

Anyone’s Son is the title of your debut poetry collection. Tell us about this title. Why did you choose it? What does it mean to you?

Titles are important to me. When I have finished a poem or short story—or in this case, an entire collection—one of my favorite approaches to choosing a title is to read what I’ve written very closely, looking for a word or phrase that resonates, that feels evocative. One of the poems in my opening chapter references a Time magazine cover story of October 21, 1969—“The Homosexual in America.” The cover itself features a photograph in closeup, of an ordinary young man, though the colors have been manipulated—harsh green, baby pink, bruised purple. As I wrote the poem, I studied the cover image, and suddenly it occurred to me: “this was a face that might have been anyone’s son.” Often, growing up gay, finding a place for myself as a gay man, I have felt estranged from my straight peers. But the truth is that I might have been anyone’s son, that any parent might have a gay son or daughter, that any of us might have been the “other” that we thoughtlessly fall into judging.

why are you doing a self-interview?

Rich asked that I do a self-interview which really feels kind of weird asking myself or responding to my own questions. But I’m always asking myself questions, so I guess this is a part of a natural process for me.

Obviously, with the title, ‘Waxing the Dents,” one might think we could have a lot of car poems here, maybe, but really what is the internal connection between those words and the title poem?

Well, let’s just say there is a tracing of the track, so to speak, between the disconnect, damage and  brokenness of relationships, mainly as found in my own relationships between Fathers and sons and men in general due to what I perceive to be our lack of intimacy skills.

As the last stanza in the poem says,

He thought the fact that we’d
gathered there, under a
blazing, burnt August sky,
proved we had passed that
place on the road where
father and son kill each other
for fun, rather than spending
a long, silent day waxing the
dents in what men made to
carry them both far away
from each other.

Who are you?

Hi, my name’s Kate. I’m a writer from the midwest living in Brooklyn. My loves are my dog Banjo, herbalism, motorcycles, Bob Seger, the color blue, tequila, collaborative art, and jackalopes in non-specific order.

Who exactly are the Girls Like Us you refer to in the title of your collection? Are you suggesting that men shouldn’t read your work?

Originally the title was “Girls Like You” which is a phrase I’ve heard many times over the years, both as compliment and critique. Either way, it was such a reductive statement, often derogatory: “Girls like you can’t be trusted” or “Girls like you aren’t worth my time.” The idea that I – or any of us – is just a type bothers me. I like to believe that my pain and suffering are unique! But then I started thinking that there is comfort in knowing I am not alone in my experience. #Metoo brought a lot of old hurts to the surface and helped me recognize the power of community. That there are many women with similar difficulties, who have faced similar challenges and internalized society’s misogyny in similarly self-destructive ways is actually a good thing. Instead of feeling shame over being a “girl like me” I wanted to take ownership of myself – the good and the bad. And I wanted to commiserate with other women rather than compete with or shame them.

I definitely want men to read my work! I hope that some of these poems might provide perspective that will help men to take into account and understand the undercurrents of misogyny that have run through our culture for decades.

Devices

By Elizabeth Hazen

Poem

Rhyme relies on repetition: pink drink,
big wig, tramp stamp, rank skank. Alliteration

too: Peter Piper’s pickled peppers, silly
Sally’s sheep – silly trumping smart because

the lls create consonance. Assonance
repeats vowel sounds: hot bod, dumb slut, frigid bitch.

There are many hats and selves in this collection, “Still-Life With God.” In fact, you have a poem, “My Persona,” where you say, “My persona /is filled with / bird song. It carries smiles in a jar.” So where do you place yourself in these poems as a speaker and as a writer?

I think people often mistake the fact that ‘the voice’ of the writer/speaker is not always the poet. My poems exist in many voices, sometimes my own biography, but very often, I am taking on a mask or a persona of another. I’ve always loved Elizabeth Bishop’s poems for the way she acquired many selves. Ultimately, these beings are all some part of me, in some incarnation—well, because they are my creation, out of my psyche, sometimes from memory, sometimes from my imagination. I am not beholden to anything but ‘the truth’ the poem tries to excavate.

 

I find your title quite confusing. Can you explain it?

The toothless house is an image that came to mind when I was working on this book, which is primarily about parenthood. I imagined that the experience of raising children was akin to being a krill swallowed whole by a blue whale. One minute you are just swimming along happily minding your own business, and the next minute you are in the belly of the whale. Blue whales do not technically have teeth, they have baleen, which are similar to the bristles of a brush. Though one’s house isn’t technically a jail and bristles aren’t technically teeth, escaping intact in either case would be quite difficult.

I know that is a ridiculously convoluted (and probably scientifically inaccurate) metaphor, but there you have it.

Parenthood has turned out to be the best experience of my life, but this book is about the first years, which were like knocking up against the bristles, both physically and emotionally.

I saw a long line of cars.
I saw a big white house.
The ground was mottled
and abraded like
the back of a buffalo.
I saw a chicken coop,
a muddy ditch,
the padded cell
of the sky.

credits: CameraRAW Photography


Do you believe in ghosts?

No, but I believe in being haunted.