Sari Krosinsky

The wayward animation is actually kind of pretty at the moment it crashes my browser.
The wayward animation is actually kind of pretty at the moment it crashes my browser.

Today (or whatever’s left of it when I stop procrastinating) is dedicated to going  through the couple notebooks I’ve been filling over the last 5 months and to typing up (and hopefully adding to) ideas for poems, games, interactive art, blog posts, and perhaps other tidbits. As limited as my capacities seem by any objective measure — the littleness of the half-filled notebooks, or the 1-minute animation I haven’t finished after half a year, or my spotty progress in learning web programming. — I know (or I’m trying to know) that to do so much is one thing that made a blessing of another year of unremitting depression (though in a lesser degree mostly than 2013). For about a year & a half before that, I could hardly read at all, and 2012 and 2013 fit in a single slim notebook, and I’d already abandoned my third attempt at learning to program.

But I don’t mean to lament, or to suggest that little improvements make up for great challenges, especially those of the intractable sort there is no overcoming. I suppose I mean only that I’m grateful to be creating anything, as much as I’m impatient to do so much more.

Another project, possibly coming in the next week or so, is an e-book re-release of the chapbook Bob and I wrote together, “Yossele: a tale in poems,” a re-imagining of the golem of Prague. It’ll be free, while the print edition will remain available (at cost) through Amazon or from Bob and me.

Speaking of availability, I seem not to have mentioned here before that “god-chaser” is officially out of print, but, in addition to the few copies still floating around (Amazon again and the local-author-friendly UNM Bookstore), you can get a copy from me for $12 plus postage, if any (also at cost, if you can believe it).

Though it’s a little sad to see “god-chaser” go out of print so quickly (the consequence of its coming out in fall 2012, near the beginning of the roughest period), I’m grateful to WordTech Communications for publishing it. It’s nice to have had a “real” publisher for my first book, though I don’t think I’ll be pursuing that route again, mostly because I finally caught on to the open source movement.

Rational though the arguments may be, I don’t believe that people show how much they value things by how much they’re willing to pay for them. The value of a poem, the value of art itself, is created between writers and readers, artists and perceivers. If we don’t pay as much for a song as for a cup of coffee, it isn’t because we don’t understand their relative values. We think the economic system works because it allows us to set an equivalency between things with quite different sorts of value. That’s why it doesn’t work. Saying things are equivalent doesn’t make it so. The piles of currency I’ve spent on coffee can’t diminish the greater nourishment I’ve received from the arts — and how nourished, how grateful, how pleasured, how grown I am after the encounter could never be predicted from the price tag.

I’ve been spending more time scripting than writing of late, but poetry is definitely in the mix. My just finished project shuffles poems — mostly a toy, but I’ll be using it to work on another poetry/scripting project. The screenshot below came from shuffling a couple of post-god-chaser poems.

You can play with Poem Shuffler using your own poems and/or a few included public domain poems.

Screenshot of a couple of shuffled poems

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. Widgets