Who are a few of your favorite saints?

Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Augustine, Saint Lucy, and Saint Theresa of Avila.

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a poet or writer? Was it when you first started writing?

When I was 20 and had declared a Creative Writing major in undergrad. I had kept journals my entire childhood and young adulthood, some of which contained poem fragments or some attempt at lineation, as well as sketches for stories, but I can’t say they were conscious attempts at drafting poems or stories.

 

Do you write long hand or on a computer?

Both. Most of my poems begin with a line or image, jotted in a notebook. Their composition also takes shape in a notebook, wherein I jot down lines, words, ideas, or images from my reading or meditating. I then transcribe the contents of imagination and found text into a Microsoft Word document, and spend the next few hours assembling and reassembling the language to craft a poem.

 

Are you more of a scattered or systematic reader?

In grad school, extremely regimented and systematic, in part because I was reading for exams, but also because I am a nerd and would make maps and timelines of different literary periods and genres and their clusters of influence and tape them to the wall. Since graduating a couple years ago, and becoming an ex-pat by moving to a Francophone culture (Montreal), I became more interesting in reading not just outside the Western canon but outside the English language, and in expanding my conception of text to include performance and hybridity.

 

Poetry (or po-biz, to be exact) in many ways upholds the definition of a gift economy but still seems to be usurped at times by capitalistic drives (excess, competition, avarice). What can contemporary poets do to maintain artistic integrity and autonomy in our era?

Plant flowers. Build community. Start a zine or journal or press. Learn book making (design and printing). Write by hand. Experiment wildly. Harbor joy. Travel when possible. Recognize that having the time and, when applicable, means, to make art and thus transformation is a gift and fortune not accessible to all. Pay rent. Or don’t.

 

How can one give back to the literary community that has fostered one’s own growth and development (in mostly non- or low-remunerative ways, such as running a journal or press, mentoring, reading, blurbing, attending readings, writing reviews, doing conferences and panels, to say nothing of the foot race of academia) without burning out?

I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

 

What is your favorite or most frequently used emoji? Dance form? Cuss word?

Kissy face, West Coast swing, asshat.

 

Is language an extension of thought or thought an extension of language?

Pedantic hairsplitting.

 

If you could change anything about the poetry community, what would it be?

A more equitable playing field and more opportunities for financial survival outside of prescribed career path.

 

What are the three most powerful words?

Besides I love you? I don’t know.

 

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Author of two poetry collections, Any God Will Do (Carnegie Mellon, 2020) and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and three chapbooks, including Empire of Dirt (above/ground press, 2019), VIRGINIA KONCHAN's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and elsewhere.

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