I met Joanna Valente for the first time when she came into our office for a job interview. She was working on her MFA at Sarah Lawrence and I was so, so impressed by her. I'm so glad we've managed to stay in touch with her since then, because she's also an incredibly talented writer and a truly lovely person. Her first book, Sirs & Madams will be out this fall from Aldrich Books, and I can't wait to read it. I know it's going to be just like her - powerful, emotional, and graceful.
Who are you?
I’m a mermaid who puts on a human suit every morning. Like many poets, I live in Brooklyn and work on the island called Manhattan. First & foremost, I’m a woman & a poet who advocates on taking a stand against sexual & emotional violence. As a poet, I truly believe it is my duty to use my language gracefully and poignantly, to stand up for those who are invisible, who need a real voice. That being said, I believe magic does exist—I believe it exists when we take off the bullshit-suit we wear everyday. For me, that’s when I write poetry, when I get a drink after work. I’m there in those little moments.
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. My body exists on the internet at my website,
where I catalogue my published poetry & blog about writing, fashion, &
cooking. I also have the amazing fortune to be the current Copyeditor for LunaLuna Magazine, as well as a weekly Staff Writer. It’s been one of
the most fulfilling experiences of my writing career, since it’s a women’s
feminist magazine that prides itself on being truly an open space for
discussion, which I still think is rare. I also founded & currently edit a
quarterly poetry journal, Yes Poetry, which is now celebrating its fourth anniversary!
It’s quite surreal to look at myself on the internet, because it’s almost hard to know what’s more real—the you physical you or the dot.com you. The dot.com version of me will live on when my body doesn’t, which I imagine would look like a metal tulip smashed into a million pieces, floating in gelatinous river. That’s what the internet looks like to me.
What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen?
Because I was that kid in glasses listening to The Cure, I didn’t have many friends, so I turned to LiveJournal for solace. It was there I started to hone my voice, play with language, and even make a few friends that I still connect with and value immensely. It was truly by accident, although it’s also a product of our time. I grew up in that strange transition, where half of my childhood was spent chronicling in bound journals, because I didn’t have a computer. By the time I was an undergraduate, I had a full flown blog where I would chronicle my outfits and music selections. Of course, I revamped it several times since.
Honestly, it wasn’t until a few years ago I truly started to embrace blogging. At first, I was resistant—I felt like I didn’t have anything to say until I realized I did. I am also a believer in adapting with the times, and this is the time we’re in.
Why do you write?
I write because I have to. It’s who I am, I have no choice.
Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you?
The question should be what, not who, because everything inspires me! To loosely quote Henry James, it’s the duty of the writer to be a sponge, to take it all in. That being said, the dead inspire me. We talk all the time.
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?
Italy & Greece—the home of my ancestors.
What is your favorite place on earth?
My bed. I’m actually just a tiny cat parading around as a human—I love just lounging around in bed, especially in the morning when a soft, almost white light creeps in. It’s quite beautiful just watching the slats of light come through my window, realizing how lucky I am to be breathing.
Anything else you'd like us to know?
I’m not actually crazy.