Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Abigail Welhouse

Abigail Welhouse and I first met at a joint reading we gave for Earshot in December 2011. We actually went to college together, but somehow never met until we were both in grad school. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), we read together again a few years later at the Cornelia Street Graduate Reading Series and since then, I think of her as my poetry reading buddy. Abigail's work is incredible and covers an enormous span of topics without ever feeling trite. She's also deeply funny in her works, though she doesn't shy away from seriousness, either. Also, just read her James Deen story below, because that is fantastic.

Abigail Welhouse, photographed by fellow poet extraordinaire Gregory Crosby.

Who are you? I'm Abigail Welhouse. I write poems and translate poems from Japanese and Spanish. I also work full time as a book publicist. Hello!

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. I love this question. I love you, hot-tub-strangers.

I write about women who want things. Right now, I'm particularly interested in St. Mary of Nazareth, and exploring how veneration can also be a form of objectification. I'm curious what happens to desire when it's suppressed. My current manuscript, which is about Mary, includes a cameo by James Deen. He read the poem in question (which was published in nin) and reportedly said he was "flattered."

If you want to read some of my published poems and see a picture of me drinking wine with a polar bear, the place to go is about.me/welhouse.

If you want brand-new poems before the internet gets its grubby fingerprints on them, you'll want to sign up for the Secret Poems of Abigail Welhouse: tinyletter.com/welhouse. Coming soon: wizard blood, hungry goats, and ponies faint with love.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? I don't remember ever not writing. I have weird childhood diaries as evidence.

Why do you write? Writing is a way to allow many versions of myself to coexist. I may not want to live permanently in the brain of some of my poems' narrators -- like the one in my poem "Bad Baby" -- but poetry allows me to try on new points of view temporarily.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Right now, I've been on the lookout for every book Amy Gerstler ever wrote. Her book The True Bride is so brilliant and electric. I admire poets that don't shy away from strangeness, and allow each poem to be very much its own thing. I've also been enjoying Nicole Steinberg's book Getting Lucky, Anna Journey's If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting, and Jillian Weise's The Amputee's Guide to Sex. Roxane Gay's novel An Untamed State is next on my to-read list after Middlemarch. Read all of these so we can talk about them, hot-tub-strangers!

I also get a lot of inspiration from non-poetry forms of art. I'd love to collaborate with more dancers, musicians, and visual artists.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? My friend Naomi Kaye just moved to Munich, so I would love to visit. We could eat some giant pretzels, explore castles, and take a side trip to Prague. I also have a lot of fantasies about taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad some day with my friend Lucy Morris, who speaks Russian and would write a brilliant essay about the whole experience.

What is your favorite place on earth? I worked at a horseback riding camp in Wisconsin for six years, and part of me will always live there, especially in the summertime.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I first read this as "anything else you'd like to know" and thought, "oh, so much."

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