Next Big Thing Interview Series

(March 2013) Susan Kelly DeWitt, one of Sacramento's best poets, tagged me for the "Next Big Thing Interview Series", a new Internet phenomenon in which writers answer the same ten questions about new books, forthcoming books, work-in-progress or collaborations. Here are the questions and my responses:

1. What is the working title of your book?

The Psychiatrist

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was asked by a poet friend to put together a New & Selected book. I sent the book out to several publishers and for months, more than year in fact, I didn't hear anything until I got an email from Eyewear Publishing in the UK. Todd Swift, the editor, wrote me an email and asked for a new updated version which I sent immediately. At the end of the year I was offered a publication date for this New & Selected. I was delighted. The launch of the book will be October 2013 at The London Review Bookstore (The LRB), in London, UK. The address is 14 Bury Place, London, WC1A 2JL. 020 7269 9030 if you would like to join us.
3. What genre does your book fall under?


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If I were to choose actors to perform my poems, I would like to see Stina Ekblad, Carolina Cartagena, Carolina Vera - actors that appreciate and understand poetry - perform the poems and promote the book or the poems. For me it is revealing to hear and see other people perform my poetry and the poems of others, too!

5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

These poems will prompt you to slow down, think and remember.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The poems were written in between 1986 and 2009. It took me almost two years to put together the poems for this New & Selected. It is my third book in almost twenty three years.

7. What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Many other books come to my mind, but mine is better!

8. Will your book be self-published or published by a press?

The book will be published by Eyewear Publishing in the Fall of 2013 as I mentioned before. It will be distributed in the States and be available at Eyewear Publishing

This collection contains 50 poems, written in the period from 1986 to 2009. The poems are about traumas of the past that lead to the tension between political idealism, motherhood and the shifting ground of modern social structure. It is a range of voices from the past and the future that speak of a vision of a new social order.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I would say there is a complex but interesting journey - to say the least - from a first poem born in a refugee camp where I lived in 1985 to the solitude and reflective times in my suburban home in the States. The painful experiences and events of a family completely torn apart by the politics of a country on the verge of collapse. It is a book that will entertain your mischievous mind, give you a kick of unusual events and if I'm lucky make you reflect for a while.

Please share a sample of the writing:


When I got "home" from the hospital
there was a bed and a baby bed beside it, and a letter
from my mother that was forwarded from the refugee camp.
In the letter my mother said that she had missed the bus
that would have brought her from the South of Chile to the airport to say goodbye.
Somebody told her that I was leaving.
She had read about J's death in the newspapers. More
than 1000 people came to his funeral and the riots
that followed were covered on national TV. Reuters smuggled
pictures out of the country and in the archives of The Agency
that I would read 20 years later it would say: …the case of J's may turn
into another scandal similar to the case concerning
the death of the three "degollados". The last paragraph
of the letter said "I hope now when you are a mother yourself
you can understand your own mother a little bit better."
I couldn't answer her. Not because I didn't have anything
to say but it was so hard to say it.
I wish I could have written something to her at that time to bring us closer.
But I still couldn't think clearly. It would be a long time before I could.

(from The Psychiatrist, first appeared in the Aldebaran Review)

10. Make up a question you think is pressing in the way of poetry today.

What are some of the challenges of writing poetry today? I think the incessant pressure for publishing and producing printing material can damage the quality of writing. Poetry cannot be written in a short period of time and in the tremendously demanding day to day life without suffering the consequences of that. The other challenging part is to find a balance between writing and publishing periods. The first one is so private and fragile and the second one completely the opposite, is very public and a commanding, all of this needs a sovereign balance of mind or a terrific literary network!

Thanks Susan Kelly-DeWitt for tagging me for The Next Big Thing. It was fun! I'm tagging Chard deNiord, Travis Denton, Chad Sweeney and Jennifer Tseng.

  1. Interview at the Grosse Pointe Times
    January, 2010
  2. Interview at the Cerise Press website
    July 1, 2009
  3. Interview in the Detroit Free Press
    January 14, 2007
  4. Interview on WDET-FM 101.9 Detroit
    December 3, 2006
  5. “Poetic Perseverance”
    Metro Times, July 5, 2006
  6. “Drawn Together”
    Signature, July/August 2006
  7. “Writer, activist creates bohemia”
    Grosse Pointe News, June 22, 2006
  8. “GPAA names artist, poet in residence”
    Grosse Pointe News, June 8, 2006
  9. Mariela Griffor: Marick Press’ Founder’s Remarkable Life, May 17, 2006
  10. “New press releases first 2 publications”
    Grosse Pointe News, April 27, 2006
  11. “G.P. Artists Association to hold Poets Follies”
    Grosse Pointe News, March, 2006
  12. “Starting the press”
    Grosse Pointe Times, April 26, 2006
  13. “Poet versed in bridging the cultures”
    The Detroit News, March 29, 2006
  14. “‘Poets Follies’ to be an adventure of the creative kind”
    Grosse Pointe News, November 10, 2005
  15. “Poets speak up”
    Grosse Pointe News, April 14, 2005
  16. “‘Detroit Urban Woman Writer in Residence’ named”
    Wayne State University Campus News, December 12, 2002
  17. “Open up the Furnace”
    Metro Times, September 25-October 1, 2002
  18. “Sophomore copes with loss, builds new life in America”
    Grosse Pointe South High School’s newspaper The Tower, January 30, 2002
  19. “Focus on Future Alumni”
    Wayne State Media Review, Winter 2001
  20. Focus on Future Alumni
    Wayne State Media Review, Winter 2001
  21. A poet’s story
    Grosse Pointe News, December 6, 2001
  22. Foreign Affair
    HOUR, October 2001
  23. Journalism student longs for homeland
    The South End, November 16, 1999
  24. Coup survivor deals with new conflicts
    The Blade: Toledo, Ohio, October 17, 1999
  25. Mariela and the Dictator
    Metro Times, October 12-19, 1999

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Last Update: June 2012.

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