-->

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

An Interview with Kate Monica


On the eve of her first published book of poems titled Nervous Universe, Kate Monica talks about her work and what led her here.  ♦ 
At twenty-one, most of us don’t have a lot to show for ourselves: a little over half the required credit hours for an undergraduate degree, a handful of extracurriculars, and a crippling sense of dread associated with thoughts about the future. Not many of us can say we have our first book coming out.
   Kate Monica, a junior at the University of Connecticut, can.
   Even before inking her first book deal, Monica had already racked up some impressive literary accomplishments while at UConn; her work has been published by the Long River Review, tNY, Orchid Children, Holey Scripture, and Control Literary Magazine, and she has received numerous awards for her poetry including the Collins Literary Prize in 2014 and second place in the Wallace Stevens Poetry contest. Currently she is one of five university students in the Connecticut area chosen to be a part of the Connecticut Poetry Circuit, through which she is able to participate in the Poetry Circuit reading tour.
    Then, last December, Monica published a number of poems in the online literary magazine Electric Cereal, run by Luis Silva. After announcing on her Tumblr the completion of a manuscript, Silva reached out, saying he’d be interested in seeing the finished product. Soon thereafter, the deal was struck for Electric Cereal to publish Monica’s first book of poetry, Nervous Universe, which will see print later this month.
    In this interview, Monica shares her thoughts on her wild and quick journey toward publication, what makes a poem good (or not), and what compels her to write.

It seems like your book deal happened pretty quickly, given how tough it can be to publish. 

Yeah. I emailed it to [Luis Silva] and at around 4 in the morning the next day, he emailed me back and said, “I really like the manuscript and I want to publish it,” and then he sent me the contract. I’m honestly still a little shocked how quickly it happened.
.
How does it feel, having a book so close to publication?
.
Happy, excited, glad. It’s a dream come true a little. I’m going to keep going the way I’ve been going, except now I really know I want to be a writer. Before I kind of thought I’d be a professor or a teacher, but now I’m sure I want to be a writer.
.
It must be nice to have that kind of clarity, knowing what you want to do at twenty-one.
.
It’s funny, because I used to hate poetry. I thought it was stupid until my freshman year when I took a class and my professor came in the first day reciting High Windows by Phillip Larkin. After that I didn’t think it was stupid anymore at all.
.
Have you ever worked in fiction, or are you exclusively a poet?
.
I’ve been working on a novel for two years. I recently finished it. It’s about a girl going through a bunch of transformative things—like adjusting to college, figuring out her sexuality, and growing up, which is kind of the subject matter for a lot of my poems.
.
What do you think makes a poem “good”?
.
I’m hesitant to answer, because I don’t want to sound like I think I have all the answers about what makes poetry “good,” but for me, what a “good” poem is, and I think one of my professors said this, a “good” poem should feel simultaneously surprising and inevitable. You shouldn’t know what’s coming, but it should also feel like there was only one way for it to end.
.
What makes a poem unsuccessful? Do the poems you dislike have anything in common?
.
For me, too many abstractions is kind of boring. Talking about love but not putting a face to it doesn’t work. A poem is good if it’s personal, authentic, if it feels like it belongs to whoever wrote it, if it feels like it couldn’t have been written by anyone but the person who wrote it.
.
Of the poems you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
.
To Various Persons Talked To All At Onceafter Kenneth Koch’s poem of the same title. I wrote it because my friend showed me the Kenneth Koch poem and decided to write his own poem kind of based on that, and so I did it too. It’s about transient things said and overhead at a party, and it starts to deteriorate as the speaker gets drunk. Everything is clipped and cut and the things that were said earlier are coming back only smaller and less and the night is getting repetitive and redundant and it just starts feeling like every other night.
.
How did you decide which poems would go into the book? 
.
My professor was helping me pick poems that already felt finished […] I was working on it for an independent study with really no intention to publish until after graduation. There’s no theme—at least no intentional theme—but the poems read similarly. The book is called Nervous Universe, so they all at least fall under that category.
.
Does success at this young age seem strange to you at all? 
.
The only thing is I’m too young to have a good origin story. If I had some insane creative process, I don’t think people would really believe me because I haven’t been alive long enough to be really interesting yet.
    My professor told me about this one writer who, when asked how he would write, said he would wake up every morning, take off all his clothes, go to the boiler room in the basement, and just sit all day, sweating and writing. I don’t have anything like that, and I could never say anything like that. Right now, all I can say for my origin story, for like why I write, is a quote from “As Planned” by Frank O’Hara, which is my favorite poem. “For they are words that you know and that/is all you know words not their feelings/or what they mean and you write because/you know them not because you understand them/because you don’t you are stupid and lazy/and will never be great but you do/what you know because what else is there?”
     That’s why I write. That’s what I’ve got.
  • About the Author
    Kaylee Via is a sophomore English Lit and Creative Writing double major to prove to her parents that there is, in fact, beyond being a single English major, a way to make yourself more unemployable. She appreciates a good cup of coffee, punctuality, and not having to talk about herself.

    Share this article :

    0 comments:

    Post a Comment