GAIL WRONSKY is the author, coauthor, or translator of twelve books of poetry and prose, among them Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press), Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press), Blue Shadow Behind Everything Dazzling (Hollyridge Press), and Imperfect Pastorals (What Books Press). Her translation of Alicia Partnoy’s book Fuegos Florales (Flowering Fires) recently won the American Book Prize from Settlement House Press. She teaches creative writing and women’s literature at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
We asked Gail what she was working on:
I’m almost done with a new book of poems called A BESTIARY OF LIES. Still working on that title, which I like, but which I don’t think really matches what’s in the book. These new poems are slightly more confessional than my previous work in that I actually do include details of my everyday life in Topanga Canyon. Some of them are written in the first person plural (we) as if I’m speaking for both Chuck Rosenthal, my husband and housemate, and myself. But I really wanted them to have a sense of the eternal as well—more like the poems in BLUE SHADOW BEHIND EVERYTHING DAZZLING, my Hollyridge chapbook. That movement—between the very real, very specific detail, and the large themes of death and nothingness and immortality (yes, I do see the contradiction there)—is one of my favorite things to do as a poet. Because I think that the everyday contains the eternal, and that when you are living in an observant way, you see it. And part of the poet’s job is to remind you of that.
We asked what was her greatest creative challenge:
I’m not always capable of living in that observant way and when I’m not, my creativity suffers. I’ve learned to be patient and wait for it to return—I’m not able to force it, the way some writers can, with practice. Other challenges are more banal—job, family, the million things that interfere with one’s ability to get writing done. Sometimes it seems as though the world is conspiring against my creativity. Other times it’s the world that feeds it.
We asked what one tip she had for writers:
I imagine this is what everyone says but READ. Always be reading something, something new that has language in it that excites you, that you can learn from. I read a lot of poetry, of course, and I read the ancient poems along with contemporary poems. I also read novels, by great authors. I’m reading all of José Saramago’s work right now because his sentences and his observations blow me away. I don’t read much junk—can’t stand running into clichés every other line, or sentences no one has taken any care with.
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