|Q: So where'd you grow up? What was it like?
A: I grew up in suburban New Jersey (Is that redundant?) with a brother and older sisters. I was the youngest by a long shot and it always seemed like we played games like Kidnapped so that my older sisters could tie me up and hide me in a closet. In the woods near our house, there was an abandoned school bus and all the neighborhood kids used it to play Rock Star. Later on, there was a lot of time spent hanging out in the Quik Check parking lot.
Q: Where did You Remind Me of You come from?
A: Throughout college and grad school, I wrote most of my poems to or about one person. Those poems make up most of the book. When I decided to publish, the biggest challenge was to try and translate that story into one that the rest of the world might understand. I wrote a lot of the poems that read like interviews in hopes of clarifying things.
Q: Where did the title come from?
A: I stole the title from a letter my high school boyfriend wrote me after about the sixty-first time we told each other good-bye forever. It got me to call him back, so maybe it will get someone else to read the book.
Q: When did you start writing poetry?
A: When I was seven, my brother went to high school in Germany and I used to write little poems for him. In fifth grade, I copied my poems into a diary and wrote across the cover "Do not sell. I am starting this book at age ten!" so apparently I already had a pretty lofty view of the importance of my own writing.
Q: What does poetry mean to you? Why did you choose this form to tell your story?
A: Poetry demands a certain kind of emotional honesty. Oftentimes, I'm not even sure how I feel about something until I sit down and try to write about it. I don't mean everyday kind of questions like, "Is there enough milk in the fridge?" I mean questions about things like regret and resolve, grief, or that whole love thing.
Q: What's it like to be a part of PUSH?
A: It's sort of like having a bunch of friends to walk into a school dance with. This whole adventure would be much scarier for me if there wasn't a bunch of us sharing it together.
Q: What are your literary influences?
A: Marie Howe and Sharon Olds are two of my favorite poets. They're also extraordinary teachers. I feel really lucky to have them to look up to. When I was sixteen and in the hospital, the doctor took away my little typewriter because I worshipped Sylvia Plath so much. In college, meeting Marie and Sharon caused me to rethink things. Here are these two women with astonishing talent, who aren't buckling under the weight of that.
Q: What are your musical influences?
A: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones. Generallly, men with guitars.
Q: What are your cinematic influences?
A: My favorite movie is about these people in Texas who compete for a truck by seeing how long they can stand by it with one hand on the hood. It's called Hands on a Hardbody. Also Robot Hunter, but that's mostly because the robot is so easy on on the eyes.
Q: Person stops you on the street and asks you to tell him something cool. What do you say?
A: Last week, my parents' cocker spaniel pooped a sock. I'd probably tell him about that.
Q: Writing. How do you go about it?
A: I sit down at the computer, sometimes with a first or last line. I don't let myself get up until I have a first draft and that takes about six to eight hours. Then I put it away for a few days because in the first little while after writing a poem, I'm always convinced it's the best poem to ever have hit the page. After I get some perspective back, I start putting it through drafts. Most poems go through about ten to fifteen drafts before they're done.
Q: What's love got to do with it?
A: All my poems turn out to be love poems, even if
they're about cat food or root beer. It's lucky I love