I’ve been a fan of Kristina Marie Darling for a couple of years ever since poet David Tomaloff turned me onto her work. As a writer who favors short fiction by folks like Richard Yates and Raymond Carver, and poetry by folks like Stephen Dobyns and Richard Hugo, it’s kind of surprising I’m a fan of Darling’s approach to writing. It was weird. She sent me a review copy of Brushes with, and though intimidated by its cerebral nature, I dug in. I mean, I really, really dug in. Her work makes me want to read closely and critically, something I’d rather not do with most poetry. Whatever she’s doing, and despite my poor interpretations of her material, it’s working in her favor. She’s on fire, too! 17 published books with 3 more forthcoming. Let’s ask a couple of questions and see what’s up with her.
So, congratulations on your newest three books! When can we expect their release? What can you tell us about each title?
First, thank you for the kind words about my work! Although I’m excited about all three of these new releases, I’m especially thrilled about the publication of Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014. The book includes excerpts of my previous collections, which include Night Songs, Compendium, The Body is a Little Gilded Cage, Petrarchan, Vow, and more. Scorched Altar is available from BlazeVOX Books and can be purchased here.
I’m also delighted about the publication of my flash fiction collection, The Arctic Circle, which is available from BlazeVOX Books too. The collection includes linked stories about a woman who gets married to the man of her dreams… only to find that his first wife was found frozen inside the house. A short excerpt from the manuscript is online at Tupelo Quarterly. Get your copy of the book here.
Lastly, I’m so happy to see my collection of astronomy poems in print. The Sun & the Moon is available from BlazeVOX Books, and invokes the astronomical clock as its central metaphor. As the book unfolds, a marriage between astral bodies crumbles, and the constellations become into ghosts, their dresses covered in ice. The book is available here. It’s worth purchasing even if only for Noah Saterstrom’s beautiful cover art.
I hope you’ll check out any or all of these new books!
I’ve seen several different sides of your writing. I mean, you’ve done straight narrative like the lovely “Self Portrait, Evicted.” Erasures as found in some of your books. Then you do footnotes, glossaries and whatnot like “A History of Transcendence.” Now I’ve been hearing about all sorts of hybrid work you’re putting out. Tell us. Why do you seem to be interested in everything poetically possible? How do you afford your voice to so many different writing methodologies?
That’s a great question. For me, each book is its own idea, its own concept, so it usually calls for a style that’s different from the ways I’ve written before. This is good because it keeps me from getting too comfortable in any one way of writing. The poems I’m the happiest with usually feels like a process of discovery while I’m writing them. I have no idea where the poem, the idea, or the style of writing will take me. Because each book is its own idea, though, that means that the prospect of starting a new project is very intimidating. But once I do, watch out! That project usually takes over my life until it’s finished.
With a publication history of now 20 books and a CV that contends with the length of the old testament, how do you manage to get it all done? The writing, the revising, the editing, the submission process, reaching out for reviews, et cetera.
I get asked that question a lot, and the answer is always the same: I don’t have a one-year old baby. I have a one-year old nephew. If I were a parent, I think my priorities would be much different, and poetry would take a back seat. But for now, I can have fun with my adorable nephew and still write tons of poems.
While on the subject of publishing, how would you advise one who is trying to get their first book published if they approached you about it? The literary world is like the porn industry. A lot of people want in, but most don’t get to play. That sounds harsh, but I think it’s fair to say. Dunno. Anyway, I’d love your thoughts regarding getting a publisher to pick up one’s manuscript. I’m asking “for a friend.” 🙂
It’s good to publish in magazines that are attached to small presses. Like Thrush Journal and Thrush Press. Or Prick of the Spindle and Aqueous Books. Or BlazeVOX Journal and BlazeVOX Books. Or Anemone Sidecar and Ravenna Press. And Wicked Alice and Dancing Girl press for the ladies. The list goes on and on. But it’s always great to test the waters with a magazine submission, then build a relationship with the editors, and later approach them with a manuscript. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I was a contributor to the Gold Wake Press E-Chaps Series for years, and when the editors started a print series, they graciously agreed to take a look at my project.
Now that you have all of those books, are in the process of earning your Ph.D. in poetics, and get a billion search results when Googling your name, what’s next for KMD?
Gainful employment, hopefully. I’m finishing up school, traveling, and getting ready to apply for jobs. I’m hoping to find something that’s a mix of teaching and editing, but I’m open to many different possibilities: curriculum development, arts management, higher education administration, or just about anything else that involves books.
One last question. A fun one. Would you ever consider writing a mainstream or young adult novel? I’m asking since your career reminds me of Julianna Baggott’s, who has 18 published books of poetry, commercial novels and children’s books. Is that a realm you think you’ll ever enter? I heard there’s money in it. Imagine it–– “Footnotes to Hunger Games,” a trilogy by Kristina Marie Darling.
First: Thank you for the flattering comparison! I love Julianna Baggott’s work. Second: You are a mind reader! I’m working on a novel about a woman who’s in love but can’t speak. It’s called Frances the Mute. Because I never really stopped being a teenager, I have a feeling that the book is something teenage girls would really love. Hopefully once I get a working draft in order, anything will be possible.