How has your first book changed your life?
37. Ada Limón
Well, I had sent many versions of a manuscript out for years, but Lucky Wreck was probably out to about twelve places when it was picked. The truth is, it always depended on how much money I had to spend on the contests. It was like, "Drinks or a contest? Cab home or a contest?" constantly running through my brain.
What do you remember about the day when you saw your finished book for the first time?
I woke up and my boyfriend at the time had brought them home and left them on the kitchen table for me. I had a huge event at work that day, but I kept sneaking into the kitchen and reading it while everyone else was talking about "the future of the company." It was so exciting. I kind of wanted to wear it around my neck. But I didn't. Yet.
Were you involved in the cover design?
My mother, Stacia Brady, painted the cover painting specifically for this book. I adore it and it's hanging in my kitchen right now as I write this. She's doing the second one too. She's a rock star.
Oh of course. I thought I'd be richer, smarter, prettier, happier, thinner, more responsible, a better friend, a better daughter, I'd win an academy award and I would be suddenly fluent in six or seven languages. And I'd have a tiny dog, on a tiny leash, that ate tiny food.
Well Barbara, what's great is, I don't have to pay rent anymore, the new poems practically write themselves and I'm having the best sex of my life. And my bathroom never gets dirty. But truthfully--some nice people have asked me to read and have given me generous reviews, but mainly my boyfriend and I broke up and I lost ten pounds.
Were there things you thought would happen that didn't? Surprises?
Well--the guy with the money hasn't showed up yet and I thought he was coming. And no one's bought the movie rights yet. Life hasn't gotten easier--but it's still fun to say, "Yes" when people say, "Oh, you're a poet? Do you have a book out." I mean, that's hot.
What have you been doing to promote the book, and what are those experiences like for you?
Since the book has come out I've done quite a lot of readings in hopes that it will help launch it into the world (not just fling it into the air). I love doing readings and traveling and meeting people on the road. It feels like I'm a grass roots politician or a traveling salesman. Reading in places like Spokane, Washington, is so much fun. Staying in people's houses--getting homemade meatloaf. I did a couple of readings at people's homes too. That was fun. I rode a roller coaster before my reading in Santa Cruz and I recommend it highly to everyone.
Your second book will be out later this fall--what are your plans for it? Are you going to do it all again?
Yes, I hope to do a lot of readings, although I can't really take that much time off work this time around. But yes, I do want to do it all again. I'm very excited about that one. It's wild and different and has a crazy guy who hangs out at the beer distributor. I'd love to read everywhere if I could. I'll read at your house. Can I come over?
Let's see: "Always check your ticket at Off Track Betting before you leave the counter" and "Stop dating bartenders." I try not to take too much advice from my friends--once you start doing that you end up naked in a Las Vegas hotel room wondering where all your money went.
But truthfully--my father told me not to listen too much to reviews especially if they're good. My dear friend, Jennifer L. Knox, taught me how to banter between poems--and I think it brings people into the reading more.
Can a person really be taught to banter between poems? Any tips for the banterless?
Mmm. Well, not if you're trying to banter like someone else. But I DO think that you can learn how to explain just the smallest bit about a poem that might offer something unique to the audience; something as simple as, "I wrote this while I was really craving fried chicken," or "oops, I spilled some wine on this page," can be a enough to at least open a tiny door--something that makes you human.
How do you feel about the critical response so far and has it had any effect on your writing?
I've only gotten two reviews so far, they were both very generous. I don't think it's had much influence on my writing. I've always written for an audience, even when that audience was just my best friend Trish and I was reading stuff to her in the laundry mat. Now I know my audience is a little bigger, but I still want to be writing like I'm going read it at the laundry mat and try to make it interesting enough to be heard over the machines.
Wow. What a question. Do you work for a pharmacutical company? But yes, I've been thinking about that a lot. I need more time to write and more time to read. I'd like to eventually make a shift away from the corporate world and maybe go live in a yert somewhere. I'd like to live by the water somewhere and have some kids--and maybe get that tiny dog. I've got to figure some stuff out first though.
I sure hope so. I've put my dreams up to the "giant magnet" and hopefully the "giant magnet" will hear me.
Yes, I do. Art does change the world. It makes it livable. There are poems I have read in my life that have given me hope when I didn't think hope was possible. I have heard a poem read out loud that inspired me to dedicate myself to the world again. I have had a poem heal my heart; I've had a poem break it. I've had a poem--in a pretty straightforward way--save my life.
I believe that anything that allows us to give thanks in a simple and humble way, is saving the world, daily.
a poem from Lucky Wreck by Ada Limón:
How well you do! How good you are!
next interview: Kazim Ali
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