Shanna Compton Talks Bloof Books, Poetry, Labeling & Feminisms

Sarah Marcus: You’ve said that you left Soft Skull Press and began your own press, Bloof Books, so that you could focus on poetry. Can you tell us about the history of the press? What kind of poetry do you publish, and as an editor, what do you look for in a manuscript or collection of poems? Many of the beautiful chapbooks you publish are handmade. Can you please tell us about this process?

Shanna Compton: The press happened sort of quickly, but it was actually something I’d been thinking about for a while. Working with everyone at Soft Skull was amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but the press was changing (and changing hands) and I also needed to move on for personal reasons.

Danielle Pafunda and Jennifer L. Knox both had second books ready (we’d published their first ones), and I also had a second book ready but the press that had published my first one had folded. Suddenly these books had nowhere to go, and I felt frustrated about the delay this was going to mean. Then I realized I knew everything I needed to know to go ahead and make them happen. We reissued Knox’s A Gringo Like Me and called the Soft Skull edition out of print, then did Drunk by NoonDanielle’s Soft Skull debut Pretty Young Thing was still in stock with them, so we left it intact there and did My Zorba via Bloofand my own For Girls & Others. I’m grateful that they trusted me enough to go along for the experiment. It helped that by that point we all knew each other well. So that’s our origin myth.

The chapbook series is relatively new, the first six being issued in 2013. But the handmades are actually a return to what I was doing prior to (and during) my time at Soft Skull with my tiny DIY press, Half Empty Half Full. I took a break from making chapbooks and broadsides but wanted to get back to doing those. I find them very fulfilling to work on, both editorially and physically. They’re really special to me, and I hope to the authors. All twelve so far (including the two coming this fall) have been selected in our annual Open Reading Period and are by poets we hadn’t published before, and who in a few cases haven’t had other chapbooks or books yet. I try to find a design, in collaboration with the author, that uniquely fits each one, so they’re all different shapes and materials.

People really seem to like them, and subscribe to the whole series, or snap them up individually (editions are limited to 100), so we’ve started putting them online as free PDFs and Issuu flip books after the run has sold out. I’d love to start turning the digital versions into something more like apps for mobile and web, but we’re not quite there yet. (We need a whole website redesign and I’m working on that, as well as our fall books right now.) We’re also going to release combined print annuals of the chaps, because people have asked about those, to see how they do. They’d be easier for libraries and teaching, for one thing. We treat the series like a magazine, except each issue is a single author, so we recently got an ISSN.

SM: You have a critical hand in many feminist publications and listservs. Tell us about Delirious Hem and the Pussipo listserv. How did you get involved with these projects and what role do these projects have in our feminist and literary community?

SC: Pussipo’s not a secret group, though it is private. (Any member can invite new members.) I’m one of several moderators there. It was started in 2006 by Anne Boyer. Danielle (Pafunda again) and I coordinate the features at Delirious Hem, the group’s blog/magazine, but that’s really a group project too—any member can propose and edit a feature, and they’re irregularly published, as things pop up. At the time the group was started, though I won’t speak for Anne, I think it was a response to a general frustration about the way certain poetry conversations were happening online. I think many women were frustrated to be shouted down in comment boxes, alternately skeeved, shushed, and hated on, and there was clearly a difference being a woman in the poetry blogosphere (it was mostly blogs then) vs. a man (not to mention being a poet with a disability, a poet of color, or LGBT). I was a bit naive, I guess, to have assumed our poetry communities (and all the ways they overlap and clash) would be naturally better at this than other social spheres. But who knew, people often behaved even worse online than in person. So the group was a place to discuss and connect on the internet, but less publicly than on our blogs, partially shielded from that. Delirious Hem came out of a question: Why aren’t there any women poets doing what, for example, Ron Silliman was doing then? Well, we learned why not.

Things have gotten better (or at least we’re no longer as shocked and can respond better), but the group is still there for us if we need it. It’s often very quiet for a long time and then gets busy again. And other groups and forums, like VIDA, are doing a lot of this work now too, making Pussipo less essential than it once was. I’m nostalgic for the MAIL YOUR PUSSI TO THE [MAGAZINE TITLE] sort of interventions though. Recently when another secret group for women writers was started on Facebook (it’s still technically secret but probably everyone’s read about it anyway), I opened Pussipo again to see if people still found it useful. As long as women are subject to various aggressions simply for speaking or existing, we need spaces where we can talk without being interrupted or dismissed or catcalled. So even when the groups go quiet for a while, they’re there as opportunities, as break-glass-in-case-of-fire options. It’d be terrific to feel so assured we no longer need these spaces that we could shut them down. Not yet.

SM: You are the author of poetry collections Brink, For Girls & Others, and Down Spooky, and several chapbooks. How exciting that Brink was recently reviewed by Stephen Burt in the Yale Review! What are you working on now, and how does feminism (explicitly or inexplicitly) factor into your writing?

SC: Oh, thanks. I’m really grateful for that review, and for all the reviews and readers my books have received. It’s always a bit awkward for me because I am in the position of promoting myself even more directly than most poets (since I’m an author in the Bloof collective as well as the publisher). But that’s a feminist move on my part too, and I don’t dwell on what’s “appropriate” anymore—I just keep doing.

As for how my feminism (and I’ve been reminded a few times this week about how our feminisms are not all the same!) factors into my writing, I naively thought, at first, it didn’t. I’m laughing at myself. Of course it does! It’s easy to spot in all the books, and most explicitly in For Girls & Others which was written as (spurious, stupid, ridiculous) advice to women on how to dress behave live look speak walk mother BE, based on centuries of advice from all corners: etiquette manuals, sermons, folktales, women’s mags, the internet. The world may never stop telling us how to Be Women (or even the Correct Kind of Feminist) so in that book I figured we might as well laugh, as we go on ahead being ourselves.

At one point early on I worried about being categorized as a “feminist poet” and even denied being one on my blog. But that was never true. By my denial I just meant “ugh, please don’t tell me how to do this too, along with everything else,” and I figured the label would be a handy way to dismiss my work. Probably true. The next book (in progress for five years and counting) is a speculative long poem, my take on the feminine epic in Notley’s sense.

SM: What question would you like to be asked?

SC: Have you had too much coffee? Yes. And after this and a panel this morning, I’ve been talking poetry all day. I think I’m done. Thanks, Sarah.

 

comptonBio:

Shanna Compton is the author of the poetry collections BrinkFor Girls & OthersDown Spooky, and several chapbooks. The Hazard Cycle, a book-length speculative poem, is forthcoming from Bloof Books. She is also the editor of a collection of essays on the topic of video games, Gamers.

 

2014 Chapbook Launch Event at Fall for the Book

Click to download the event flyer

Click to download the event flyer

Join us this week at George Mason University for a reading featuring 2014 Chapbook Contest winner Anne Lesley Selcer and runner-up Kevin McClellan! We are thrilled that once again our sponsor, the Fall for the Book Festival, will feature the launch of our 2014 chapbook during this week’s festival. The festival will run from Sept. 11th-18th, with readings and panels across Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The Gazing Grain Press reading will be held from 4:00-5:15 pm on Saturday, September 13th in the Arts Plaza Tent near the Center for the Arts at George Mason University. The event is free to the public and will be followed by a reception. We’re excited to hear readings from Anne Lesley and Kevin, as well as to share this year’s chapbook, which our staff has been working hard to print and hand-bind these past few weeks.

Gazing Grain will also be exhibiting at Fall for the Book’s first book fair all day on Saturday. Check out this post for more information on Saturday’s events! The book fair will be located on the front drive near the Center for the Arts and the Arts Plaza tent. Other book fair participants include: Apprentice House Press, Civil Coping Mechanisms, Cottey House Press, Folio, Furniture Press, Gival Press, Paycock Press/Gargoyle Magazine, Phoebe, Potomac Review, Smokelong Quarterly, So to Speak, Sow’s Ear, and Washington Writer’s Publishing House. Saturday parking is free in Mason’s Lot K near the event sites. We’ll have our full catalog for sale, including the brand new from A Book of Poems on Beauty!

In addition, we encourage you to check out the rest of this week’s events, including readings by past contest judge Brian Teare, Martín Espada, Linda Hogan, Roxane Gay, Timothy Donnelly, Dorothea Lasky, and many others. As always, the festival organizers have put together an amazing line-up, and we’re delighted to be in such excellent company.

 

Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Leckie_AncillaryJustice_TP-692x1024Ann Leckie
Ancillary Justice
Orbit Books, 2013
Paperback, $15.00
416 pages

Space opera. A place where you can easily slip into writing more male heroes with maybe one female tag-along who ends up being cool.

In her multiple award-winning debut novel Ancillary Justice, first of a planned trilogy, Ann Leckie shows readers that she isn’t interested in the easy way. Her narrator Breq, later revealed to be a “segment” of a larger AI consciousness that was destroyed twenty years ago, shows us within the first five pages when she says: “She was male.”

Ann Leckie has created a system, an empire, where the language is explicitly non-gendered.   Therefore, all people are “she” unless identified by name. It’s the old idea of why write science fiction if you’re going to keep everything the same? Leckie’s pronoun choice is a subtly radical gesture, one that has you through the book and forgotting the three characters you know are male, are male. And since her created civilization, “Radchaai,” have a name that literally means “civilization,” it’s easy to see her questioning why male is the default and why patriarchy is the only means of setting up civilization.

This take on gender isn’t an essay, though. This is an action-adventure revenge plot, complete with subterfuge, injury, high-tech weapons, and comradery. Throughout Ancillary Justice the characters also take on other questions, such as colonization, the conversion of people into AI machines, and what it means to be divided against oneself. If anything, loss of a sense of self, the idea of fragmenting away from a cohesive whole, might speak most strongly to our problems of women “having it all.” At times, the way the reader is thrown into the world without any prelude can be confusing. But it is worth it, not only for the way that it makes us questions our systems, but also for how it aligns us with Breq, an outsider herself.

“I saw them all, suddenly, for just a moment, through non-Radchaai eyes, an eddying crowd of unnervingly ambiguously gendered people…Twenty years of habit overtook me, and for an instant I despaired of choosing the right pronouns, the right terms of address. But I didn’t need to do that here. I could drop that worry, that small but annoying weight I had carried all this time. I was home.”

 

 Ancillary Justice, winner of the Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards, is available from Orbit Books.

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Catee Baugh is a Virginian poet now living in Hawaii.  Her work has appeared in ArLiJo and Indigo Ink’s Modern Grimmoire.  In her free time, she can often be found dancing.

Chapbook Review: Baby-Doll Under Ice by Katie Jean Shinkle

babydollundericeKatie Jean Shinkle
Baby-Doll Under Ice
Hyacinth Girl, 2014
Paperback, $6.00

In Katie Jean Shinkle’s brief and beautiful Baby-Doll Under Ice, address to the beloved is equal parts lyric and fable.

Shinkle’s poems navigate a lyrical and often erotic tension between submergence and emergence of the self and the other. Throughout the poems, the speaker/s are not constant in their pronouns and antecedents, pushing the reader to consider unified identity and embodiment. We encounter I, you, she, we, the eponymous beloved Baby-Doll, and a figure called Charlotte, whose organs are dangerous, who might be a shadow of the speaker or the beloved.

While the title and many of the individual poems bear out the conceit of submergence, the poems also dance with the thrill of the reveal, with nakedness and vulnerability. One example of this erotic tension is the poem Baby Doll’s Cry for Help, in which the speaker pleads with the beloved to “come sit next to me:”

no closer still, on my thighs you are
on my chest on my face o Baby-Doll
you are on my hips we are no please

come closer until you are invisible
until you shadow your shadow your
watery shadow until this shadow

Like a fable, in these poems the physical is metaphysical. The body is the site of viscera; the body is the site of metaphor. Organs are fruit, are weapons, and also are just organs. In these lines from “Baby-Doll’s First Examination,” we see the layered truths of the body:

What is right here, fingers beneath

bust line. Here is where we disintegrate,

here is where we burst.

Shinkle uses sonic resonance and recurring image to draw the reader through the whole sequence. These are poems to enjoy in immediate material pleasure, and to unfold over multiple readings in moments of concealment and disclosure.

Baby-Doll Under Ice is available from Hyacinth Girl Press. Look for Katie Jean Shinkle’s upcoming novel Our Prayers After the Fire, available soon from Blue Square Press!

 

Kathy Goodkin‘s work has appeared in Denver QuarterlyRedividerRHINO, and elsewhere.She holds an MFA from George Mason University, where she served as editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and ArtKathy lives in Denver, where she co-teaches poetry workshops in a women’s correctional facility.

GGP at the 22nd Annual Poets House Showcase

Last June, Gazing Grain Press had the honor of being featured in the 22nd Annual Poets House Showcase in New York. The event is a free exhibit of all the new poetry texts published in the United States in one year, and represents more than 700 university, commercial, and independent presses. This year’s event included more than 3,000 poetry texts, including books, chapbooks, broadsides, criticism, anthologies, artist’s books, and multimedia works.

Co-editor Alyse Knorr attended the event and had the pleasure of admiring Meg Day’s book, We Can’t Read This, on display alongside many other outstanding titles.

Many of the presses included on our Feminist Resources Page were featured at the Showcase, including Alice James Books, A Midsummer Night’s Press, Arktoi, Bloof Books, Brick Books, Carolina Wren Press, dancing girl press, Finishing Line Press, Gival Press, Kelsey Street Press, Kore Press, Mayapple Press, Nightboat Books, Persea Books, Perugia Press, Post-Apollo Press, Red Hen Press, Sibling Rivalry, and Switchback.

For a full list of the presses and books included at the Showcase, click here.

2014-06-26 18.11.02

 

 

 

Co-editor Alyse Knorr with Meg Day's book, We Can't Read This (2013)

Co-editor Alyse Knorr with Meg Day’s book, We Can’t Read This (2013)

2014-06-26 18.11.10

Come #femsummer with Gazing Grain Press!

Earlier this #femsummer, the editors at Gazing Grain Press tweeted and shared on Facebook their top picks for a feminist summer reading list—and a few of our friends and followers chimed in with theirs as well! Here’s the list; curl up in your favorite shady spot and read on, because there’s still time this summer to make it a #femsummer!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, recommended by GGP co-editor Liz

Women’s rights evaporate in this dystopia, where women able to bear children are made scarce by a toxic chemical spill. Those who are able to carry a pregnancy to term are held hostage by their very fertility, imprisoned in a domestic ritual of emotionless sex, subservience to men and to the Eyes who are always watching. Atwood’s page-turner is narrated by a woman whose memories of the past, when women held jobs, owned property, and made their own choices in love, haunt her as she tries to make sense of the present.

Windowboxing: A Dance with Saints in Three Acts by Kirsten Kaschock, recommended by GGP co-editor Mack

This beautiful poetry chapbook from Bloof Books is a rallying cry for thinking outside the box about gender identity and gender normativity. The Small Press Book Review notes that Kaschock’s collection “celebrates women who define themselves variously, and refuse to be domesticated through gender labels and stereotypes.” Don’t let the minimalist cover art fool you; the pages inside are electric and full of surprises.

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia, recommended by GGP co-editor Catee

A finalist for the National Book Award, Garcia’s prose has been compared to the likes of Chekhov and Marquez. Dreaming in Cuban weaves together three generations of strong-willed women, love letters never mailed, the dynamics of the Cuban Revolution, and the strains of diaspora to tell a story about the destructive tensions of class status, politics, and geography.

Balloon Pop Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood, recommended by GGP co-editor Kathy

The debut poetry collection from Patricia Lockwood is a philosophical investigation of the physical world and its fleeting stability. What are we made of? How are we defined? “What is Popeye?” Enter the strange world of Balloon Pop Outlaw Black to seek out the answers for yourself.

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood, recommended by GGP Facebook friend Leah Welborn

Lockwood’s most recent collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, has garnered rave reviews and earned Lockwood two mentions on this #femsummer reading list. Lockwood’s poem “Rape Joke” took social media by storm, and it is just one of many poems in this dynamic collection that challenge sexual norms and our senses of ourselves.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, recommended by GGP co-editor Sarah

The chapter in Genesis about the rape of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, offers few details about Dinah herself. “Her total silence cried out for explanation,” Diamant said in an interview with Ms. Magazine, “so I decided to imagine one.” Thus The Red Tent is narrated in Dinah’s voice, and offers a glimpse of what her life might have been like. In a world where childbirth and menstruation are what brings women together under the “red tent,” it is the power of storytelling and ritual that binds them together.

The Trees The Trees by Heather Christle, recommended by GGP co-editor Kate

“This is the fairy-tale refanged,” warns the Kenyon Review of Christle’s Believer Award–winning collection. That chill in the air comes from the carefully, deliberate disjointing of Christle’s meticulous prose as it hesitates, staggers, and gasps across the page. These surreal poems thrive on the tensions of both form and subject, the latter a tight-rope walk between the whimsies of imagination and the realities of survival.

Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, recommended by GGP co-editor Alyse

A staple on any feminist reading list, this classic recounts a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, in which the emotional suffering of a young WWI veteran with PTSD (though of course it wasn’t called that then) contrasts and overlaps with Clarissa Dalloway’s own strained considerations of her marriage, her life, and the privilege of her social status.

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker, recommended by GGP Facebook friend Sarah Winn

Better known for her poetry and novels, this collection of nonfiction pieces by Alice Walker is just as piercing and insightful. Her essays investigate and illuminate other writers like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Flannery O’Connor as well as aspects of her own personal life, including a disfiguring childhood injury. Whether she is writing about racism, womanhood, or the events that shape us, Walker is noted for prose that is “thoughtful, intelligent, [and] resonant.”

Incarnadine by Mary Szybist, recommended by GGP Facebook friend Leah Welborn

An imprint of Graywolf Press, Incarnadine is winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, among many other accolades. From the National Book Foundation review: Through the lens of an iconic moment, the Annunciation of an unsettling angel to a bodily young woman, Szybist describes the confusion and even terror of moments in which our longing for the spiritual may also be a longing for what is most fundamentally alien to us. In a world where we are so often asked to choose sides, to believe or not believe, to embrace or reject, Incarnadine offers lyrical and brilliantly inventive alternatives.”

 

Still have some room on your #femsummer reading list? We couldn’t resist listing these, too:

  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, recommended by GGP co-editor Alyse
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, recommended by GGP co-editor Lisa
  • The poetry of Muriel Rukeyser, recommended by GGP co-editor Mack, who advises: “There are used copies and affordable collections readily available.”
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, recommended by GGP co-editor Liz

 

A Conversation with Dreamer-Teacher-Poet Leah Umansky

Sarah Marcus: While you were on your book tour for Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014), I had the pleasure of reading with you in Atlanta, GA where you began telling me about the COUPLET Reading Series in NYC that you host and curate. Please tell us how and why this series came to be and how you view its role and importance within the NYC (and greater) literary community.

Leah Umansky: Yes, and we had such a good time together! Thanks for asking about COUPLET. I’m really proud of it. It’s one of those things that I never saw myself doing. I’m not truly an extrovert. I can be shy and quiet, but this was something that I became passionate about. Poets in NYC are a dime a dozen. I hate to say that, but it’s true. Well, the same goes for reading series – there are a ton. We’re entering our 4th year in September, and I’m pretty excited about that, but it started because way back in probably 2008 or 2009, I had a really difficult time joining a reading of any kind. I thought my MFA in poetry, from Sarah Lawrence College, would’ve helped, but it didn’t. It did nothing. I had some journal publications under my belt, but not yet a full-length collection. I literally had curators of other series tell me that without a book, they couldn’t let me read. I was sort of humiliated and disgusted at the same time. I thought, well how can an emerging writer, without a book get him or herself out there if they aren’t given a place to start? That’s how COUPLET started – originally, as a reading series for both new poets, emerging poets, and established poets. We’ve had some really great readers over the years, (a wide spectrum), and I actually keep a spreadsheet with an active list of poets in waiting who have inquired about reading for COUPLET.

With that said, I knew it needed an edge, and around the same time, I befriended a Carlos Rey Sebastian on Facebook (DJ Ceremony) who specializes in some of my favorite music (britpop, new wave, glam rock), and we started to collaborate. We feature 4-5 readers and between readers and after our reading, DJ Ceremony plays a set. It’s a coupling of two of my passions: poetry and music.

SM: Your new Men Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams, and I Dream, has received a lot of awesome press recently. You
also write about the popular HBO Series, Game of Thrones, and you are finishing up your third book this summer. How do you think your writing has evolved or changed over the course of these projects? What messages do you hope your reader walks away with?

LU: I am my own publicist, so thanks for saying that! I’m really proud of how well Don Dreams and I Dream has been received, as well as those Game of Thrones that were published in Poetry Magazine. It’s been surprising, to say the least, especially with the way social media has played a part.

Yes, I’m currently putting together my third book, which will be a full-length collection of poetry. Some of the Mad Men poems and GoT poems will be in there, but moreover, it’s a collection that focuses on gender, society, storytelling and power.

I think we are always evolving as writers, especially as poets. I remember when I finished writing my first book of poems, Domestic Uncertainties, and wrote my way through my divorce, it felt like I was done. What else would I write about? I felt like that was it for me. Then, little by little, as I started to play around with social media and found myself writing about society, online dating, really just our life in the 21st century. Then, Game of Thrones came into my life.

I resisted at first. I thought it was too violent for me, but I was drawn to Ned Stark and, in time, Khaleesi. Ned embodied the ideals of manhood to me – of what a good man is. I started writing about gender, and while I caught up with GoT on HBO, I found myself pausing and taking notes. Language is a big part of my writing, and as a poet, I’m sort of obsessed with wordplay, with making up words and with the way words make up images.

Over the years, I’ve become more focused on honing in on my language. I’m a big annotator of books I teach, and books I read for fun. Gorgeous sentences always grab me. I’ve taken notice of some of the greats, like poets T.S Eliot and John Berryman, poets that I never really studied in school because I was so drawn to the confessional poets I fell in love with. What they do with compound words, and strong verbs is really something. I think that’s what is so compelling about television in 2014 – there are a lot of writers behind the scenes. I remember when I read in The Paris Review that Matthew Weiner was a poet in high school and college, it just made sense to me. It’s why Don Draper is so compelling to me. He’s got such great language, and like my obsession with the Starks in Game of Thrones, I see the good inside him. He’s trying. He has a lot to give.

SM: You are a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine, and you also write for Tin House.  As a feminist, what role do you see these publications having on the current literary landscape? How do you think inclusivity factors into (or doesn’t factor into) this equation?

LU: I think we talked about being Feminists in Atlanta, didn’t we? As a feminist, a label I’m happy to have, I think both of these publications are doing great things in the lit world, especially with poetry.

As a writer for Luna Luna, I’m happy to say that I write mostly about “the writing life.” It’s been a rewarding experience, thanks to social media, to receive feedback from other poets and writers in response to essays I’ve written about rejection, about submitting poems and manuscripts, and about being your own advocate. I think it’s important as a female poet to create community. Too often, in the past year or so, have I read that Editors of certain journals say that “they want to publish more women, but women don’t submit to their journals,” or that they’ve noticed that, “men are more likely to re-submit after a rejection, but women are not.” I find that just appalling. I’m not afraid. Re-submit! Just do it.

In terms of Tin House, I’ve been very lucky to have a great editor (Lance Cleland) who supports my writing and the choices I’ve made. I typically focus on the new work of female poets I admire and am grateful that Tin House has given me a platform where I can expose new poetry to the masses. I’m presently working on an interview with Matthea Harvey in support of her upcoming book, out this year by Graywolf Press: If The Tabloids Are True What Are You?

SM: How does being a middle school/high school teacher and being a poet inform your writing life?

LU: I love that I have both of these dynamic roles in my life. I love being a teacher. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, but also a very rewarding one. I’m lucky that my passion relates to my career. I had a 10th grade student once joke around that my “real life” was being a poet, and I laughed and said that he wasn’t really right. I sort of just balance it out.

I’ve had parts of class discussion enter my mind when I sit down to write a poem. I’ve had poems that are influenced by texts like Animal Farm and A Doll’s House.

Being a poet informs my job as an English teacher, and as a faculty adviser for the school literary magazine. It also gives me access to such wonderful material that I use to supplement novels and memoirs that I teach. Being both a poet and teacher in Manhattan gives me access to one of my favorite field trips, The Dodge Poetry Festival.

The hardest part of being a poet in 2014, and a teacher, is the internet, but I also think it’s a beautiful thing – that accessibility. I’m proud of my work.

IMG_10681675341090Leah Umansky is a poet, collagist and teacher in New York City. She is the author of the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014) and the full-length collection Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX, 2013). She is the curator and host of the COUPLET Reading Series in NYC and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Poetry Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, Coconut Poetry, and The Brooklyn Rail. Her #GoT themed poems have been translated into Norwegian by Beijing Trondheim. More at: http://leahumansky.com.