Author: Sari Krosinsky

Sari Krosinsky is a queer autistic writer. Ze has written three books of poetry, “Courting Hunger” (2015), “A God’s Life” (2015) and “god-chaser” (CW Books 2012) and co-authored a chapbook, “Yossele: a tale in poems” (2010), with Robert Arthur Reeves. Ze published Fickle Muses, an online journal of mythic poetry, fiction and art from 2007 to 2017. Ze received a B.A. in religious studies (2003) and an M.A. in creative writing (2006) from the University of New Mexico. Ze lives in Bremerton, WA, with zir partner, Reeves.

This interview first appeared on Justin Bienvenue’s author website.

What can you tell us about your latest book, “god-chaser”?

The poems in “god-chaser” are all about relationships—between lovers, friends, co-workers, brothers and sisters, gods and men. Most of it is either autobiographical or mythological, and most a bit of both.

When did you first start to write and appreciate poetry?

I wrote my first poem when I was 10. I actually still have it—my dad, who was a picture framer before he retired, framed it. I’ll only say it’s exceptionally silly and involves unicorns.

That was a couple months after I read an autobiography of Judy Blume, which was when I decided to be a writer.

As appreciation goes, of course I was into Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss when I was little. In middle school my dad bought some adult poetry for me, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind,” and Ferlinghetti was my favorite poet from then until I fell in love with Louise Glück’s work.

What can you tell us about the type of poetry you write?

I like to learn from whatever sort of poetry I can get my hands—or ears—on. Because they have such strong presences in Albuquerque, slam and literary poetry have influenced me in recent years, though I don’t think my work quite fits in either category. I also like to blend lyric and narrative poetry. I would’ve characterized “god-chaser” as primarily lyric, but my publisher, WordTech Communications, has an imprint for lyric poetry and they published it under their hodgepodge imprint, CW Books.

How has it been to have your work published regularly in magazines?

I’m grateful to all the journals that helped my poems find readers. On the other hand, I think it’s a problem that publishing poems in magazines before publishing them in a book is the standard drill. The books I’m working on now—one a verse novel and the other a verse memoir—are cases where the poems are meant to be read together, though some can work on their own or in small groups.

How has your degree in creative writing helped your work along the way?

I wrote most of the poems in “god-chaser” while I was a student at the University of New Mexico—between 10 and 15 poems as an undergrad and most of the rest as a graduate student. Though I’ve added and removed a few poems since then, and revised a few others, “god-chaser” is recognizably the descendant of my thesis.

Of course I worked closely with my thesis director, Lisa D. Chavez, on revising the poems and organizing the book. Another great influence was Tani Arness, whom I took a poetry workshop with my first semester at UNM. Her teaching was a catalyst for me—that was when I went from merely showing potential to actually writing anything good. My very first creative writing teacher (in high school) was Ellen Pickus, who taught me to stop rhyming. Though I still sneak one past myself now and again.

What’s your interpretation on poetry as a genre and writing form?

Truthfully, I don’t think about that too much. My dad always says, “art is what artists do,” and I am content to say, “poetry is what poets do,” and leave it at that.

What do you find most intriguing about mythology?

The way we write our gods and heroes tells so much about how we see ourselves. I was reading and studying some of The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid in a class during the early period of the war with Afghanistan and right around when the war with Iraq started. The professor, Ron Shumaker, pointed out the differences in what qualities the Greeks and Romans prized in a military man. The Illiad and The Odyssey trumpet the wiliness Odysseus exhibits with the Trojan horse and other adventures, while the Latin tale roots heroism in the camaraderie of men who trust each other with their lives. I contrast those ideals in “Odysseus’ Abandoned Crewman Discusses Cyclops Etiquette.” While Odysseus sought out the Cyclops island for glory, losing many men in the process, Aeneas lands there by accident and leaves as soon as he knows what lives on the island. To me, President George W. Bush seemed like Odysseus, willing to sacrifice any number of lives to prove himself, while a friend described his experience of military relationships at the ground level more like Aeneas’ band-of-brothers leadership style.

I also like to put ancient stories together with the present world and see how much—and how little—they clash.

How have you found your work to be compared to other poets and authors?

Oddly, I don’t think anyone’s told me my poems are similar to anyone else’s, and I don’t think I can judge.

Aside from influences what else would you say inspires you to write?

Most (maybe all) of my poems start with three elements: a real world observation, an imagined character, and/or whatever I’m obsessing about at the moment. I carry a little notebook to record these bits and pieces in and periodically go through them, figure out which pieces go together and then tease out the rest of the poem.

What have you found most satisfying about being an author and poet?

Sometimes while I’m reading a poem I get so absorbed I sort of forget I wrote it. I was a reader before I became a writer, so experiencing my own poems as a reader satisfies a deeper urge. That doesn’t happen often, but it happens every time I read “Yossele,” a chapbook about the golem of Prague and the rabbi who created him that I co-authored with Robert Arthur Reeves.

The ninth and final question on the writer Q&A.

When you’re starting out, the clichés are all true. Write what you know. Focus on sensory detail in the imagery and the sound of the words. Write for yourself; revise for your audience. Always consider whether the poem might be improved by eliminating the beginning and/or end. Learn the rules the better to break them.

Later, when you’ve gotten really good, just write whatever moves you, makes you laugh, leaves you dying to know what happens next. By then you’ll know when the clichés apply and when to throw them out the window 🙂

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and would like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

The eighth question on the writer Q&A.

I work in PR at the University of New Mexico, mainly editing and writing. The effects on my poetry writing are mixed.

On the one hand, writing at work does drain some of my energy for writing in general. I rarely write poetry in the evening, though I don’t seem to have any problem blogging after work. Perhaps I get stuck in prose mode after a day of writing articles.

On the other hand, writing and editing for a general audience is good practice in saying much with few words and a limited vocabulary. It was writing poetry that made me a good editor, and editing is good exercise for writing poetry.

My job has also led me to learn about marketing the arts (I cover the College of Fine Arts and have written a few articles on the creative writing program), which I expect will help with marketing “god-chaser.” I probably would have been a late comer to social media if I hadn’t needed to check it out for work, and I’ve experimented with it for literary purposes–I briefly tried Twitter fiction, but the team I was working with fizzled out. It was fun while it lasted. In virtual worlds, I incorporate poetry any way I can–embedded YouTube videos or notes, usually.

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and would like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

The seventh question on the writer Q&A.

That’s a tough one for me. I can tell you who my favorite poets have been: For a long time, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, followed by my current favorite, Louise Glück. I feel like they’ve both influenced my writing, but I couldn’t point to anything in my writing that resembles either of theirs.

I’ve also of course been influenced by Bob (aka Robert Arthur Reeves). I even owe a couple good lines and the titles of my first two books to him. Still, our styles and voices remain distinct, though I know from our joint chapbook, “Yossele,” that they flow together.

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and would like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

It’s so wonderful to move even one person this much. I hope it will be at least a quarter as satisfactory to its future readers.

“god-chaser” officially comes out in November, but it sounds like really it’ll be available earlier. Until then, the first four poems (including two referenced in the video) are free.

That’s the sixth question on the writer Q&A.

I suppose the subject I’m most drawn to is myself 🙂 I write a lot of semi-fictional autobiography. I’ve lead an interesting enough life to make for some good stories, and I think also an ordinary enough life to be relatable. I’m also interested in myths–especially biblical, Greek and Hindu.

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and would like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

The fifth question on the writer Q&A is: What is your writing process like? Do you start with an image, concept or phrase? Do you write from beginning to end or in pieces?

I gradually collect fragments of poems as they occur to me–sometimes in reaction to something that’s happening, but often resulting from a random train of thought. I’m lost in my head a great deal of the time. Periodically (ideally weekly, but I don’t always keep it up), I read through older fragments on the computer, type in the new fragments near any old fragments I see a connection with, and spend some time organizing and filling in the cracks. Eventually, this results in some poems.

I’ve written some other things about my process on the Local Poet’s Guild.

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and would like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

I don’t think I’ve blogged about the CD yet. It’s kind of a downer. The poems come from the latter part of my third book, a fictionalized memoir in poems, excepting one poem that’s the start of a book I haven’t written yet.

The CD covers being a surrogate mother, being married to Bob, living with depression and my first stay on the locked ward. It includes the night Bob and I met, a cursing villanelle, more G-d wrestling, a side trip to Truth or Consequences.

I recorded the CD with Stewart Warren of Mercury Heartlink Publishing. It was good to have not only the right equipment, but someone who knows how to use it, a mellow, patient presence. If you’re looking for professional help with self-publishing, I recommend him.

Amazon.com Widgets

The next question in my writer Q&A is: Do you consider yourself to be a genre writer, mainstream writer, slam poet, literary writer, cowboy poet, etc.? Why?

My answer is: no! No! NO!

The usual commercial advice, or such as I’ve read, is to affiliate with one sort of writing and stick to it. If you usually write science fiction, writing a romance novel will make it look like you’re not serious, or so they say.

Academic and literary poets sometimes claim they’ve cornered the market on Real Poetry. Some performance poets mock the timid recitals associated with college readings, implying that populist poetry is superior.

Why affiliate? I’d rather learn from the best of everything and use that knowledge to write what moves me.

On the other hand, once something’s written, I have no problem with labeling it. Of the three books I’ve written so far, I’d call the second a speculative novel in poems, the third a memoir in poems, and the first a mixture of the two. The label is (a) a way to connect a book with the people who would be moved by it and (b) a way for readers to find new books to their tastes.

I only object to labeling the writer.

If you’re an Albuquerque-area creative writer and you’d like to participate in the Q&A, email me.

Bob has a couple books out that I haven’t mentioned yet.

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Irretrievable: Poems and Prose 2011-2012

Wings of the Gray Moon: New and Selected Poems 1972-2012

“Wings” is selected poems from Bob’s first 12 books. The books are worth the investment, but if you’re looking for a best of, “Wings” is it.

“Irretrievable” portrays Bob’s dark year of living with a constantly depressed person (me), among other things. It’s a good read nonetheless. I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.