An Interview with Kristina Marie Darling

4 Books Published in One Month? Unheard of.

4 Books Publishedin One Month? Unheard of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Bear Who Ate the Stars Available for Pre-Order!

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The Bear Who Ate the Stars, the new chapbook by Split Lip’s Uppercut Chapbook Award winner Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, is now available for pre-order. Visit Split Lip Press to purchase and receive your copy by November 1st. Want a taste? Scroll down and read “Expected Gestures,” which first appeared in Split Lip Magazine’s issue 8.

Expected Gestures

From house to house we drag

our tired, unlived-in things:

the half-filled photo albums

where our childhoods twin,

Midwest with Eastern European,

your flattened fields of corn

where thunderstorms roamed wildly

down from a gunpowder sky

over pale plains, and my black

earth-born wheat, growing far above

where I could reach; and then

there are those unforgotten relics

full of brittle petals, guiltless poems,

and lingering smells of lovers we lost

or regret or naively thought

we loved. From room to room

we carry each other, our bodies:

these weary, changeless things.

You watch the same woman

unveil her same nakedness:

her aging, growing curves;

her hipbone, less prominent now,

still casting a kind of dark, sharpness

over thigh and dip of stomach,

over those places you’ve overlooked.

                                                         Here –

can we still find the curtainless

windows where we will make love

so late only streetlamps keep witness;

the goose bumps around my ankles

and your chin, their suggestion

of saccharine, grain-like stubble,

finding its way to the surface; and

the steeping stairs, where we will stumble

after too much wine or too little sleep?

Here, can a freshly scratched

outline of a shoulder blade remind us

of beauty: the sliver of daytime

sent to highlight bones or

the living room walls where

our future children will paint?

Or are we, in leaving one place

for another, creating more duffels

to lug from house to swollen house,

ignoring our unremembered,

                                                      but God-like things.

Love & Sundries by Nicholas Reading is Now Available!

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Split Lip Press is super excited to bring you Love & Sundries by poet Nicholas Reading. The book haunts, bites and sometimes breaks bone. If you dig visual and observant, narrative poetry, then this chapbook is for you. According to Keith Montesano, author of Ghost Lights and Scoring the Silent Film, Reading writes in “the hard-bitten spirit of Richard Hugo,” that the poems “tether themselves to hope amidst the elegiac emptiness of miles of flat land and peripheral characters who turn out to mean much more…”

Reading is a solid portrait of Split Lip’s aesthetic: poems full of grit and hurt that can, at times, get a little weird in the best way possible. Check out the sample below, and pardon the double-spacing we have no control over. YOUR BIRTHDAY SAYS FORGET YOU is one of our favorites. Once it’s one of your favorites, you can buy it HERE. Pick up a copy and support the poet.

Find out more about Reading at his WEBSITE. He’s a pretty big deal. Just ask him.

 

YOUR BIRTHDAY SAYS FORGET YOU

 

Maybe you found a street you didn’t know of

before. Maybe you were drunk and didn’t remember.

 

I hope the street said, Hello. And I expect you said

the same. And the lined streets reminded you of age

 

and that time when you were younger and shot

pigeons out of the sky with acuity. Complements

 

came by the bushel. Some said you were the best shot

since Liberty Valance. Look it up. Find a horse.

 

Treks we take are epic. A sunrise when we aren’t ready.

A moon when we’re just getting started. And sometimes

 

we’ll find a moment to be still. A nice creek to scramble in.

A very dark morning in Siberia. Really, nothing makes sense.

 

What life do we remember? I suggest to forget the memories

and create a future again and again and again tomorrow.

Poet Michael Meyerhofer Signs on with Split Lip Press

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Split Lip Press is excited to announce it will release What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, a poetry collection by Michael Meyerhofer, author of Leaving Iowa, Blue Collar Eulogies and Damnatio Memoriae. The book is tentatively scheduled to release in April 2015.

Split Lip Press is punk rock publishing, and to amplify that message further, the press recruited poet Michael Meyerhofer because of lines such as: “Somebody said we should / vandalize the coach’s Camaro, / suggested we stop for shaving cream / and syrup and maybe toilet paper / to toss through the dark biceps / of the cedars wreathing his backyard.” Split Lip is the type of press that would suggest picking up shaving cream, syrup and toilet paper for a night of vandalism.

“I’m blown away,” says Editor-in-Chief J. Scott Bugher. “I’ve been a fan of Mike’s for a number of years, and his new manuscript kicks every kind of ass out there. He’s got poems about sticking switchblades through a cans of Budweiser and poems that satirize the publishing business. His poems  entertain, a trait that most of today’s poetry fails to provide. I’ve never understood why poets pen works that do what most poetry does: make people hate poetry more. Reading Meyerhofer is as enjoyable as sipping on a Manhattan and puffing on a stogie at a jazz club. We need more poets who can pull that off.”

Meyerhofer first worked with Bugher in 2013 as a featured poet for Split Lip Magazine, the press’s original publication. “His appearance in the magazine,” says Bugher, “really shook things up and raised the bar in our poetry department.” Included in the feature were four poems from What To Do If You’re Buried Alive along with an interview. Both can be found in the magazine’s archive at http://www.splitlipmagazine.com.

About Bugher and Split Lip Press, Meyerhofer says, “I couldn’t be happier to be working with them! I’ve been following Scott and Split Lip Press for a while now and I’ve been really impressed with the way they promote their authors, not to mention their commitment to writing that’s meaningful but also fun to read. Scott’s the kind of dedicated editor that writers love to work with. So when he and Split Lip approached me about publishing What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!”

Split Lip Press is a very selective affair with regard to manuscripts. It seeks fiction and poetry by authors who make it clear that they strive for excellence. Excellent is quite an understatement when it comes to Meyerhofer’s work. Things don’t stop at a manuscript’s merit, though. The press works only with writers who are active and maintain a presence in the literary scene. With eight poetry collections and chapbooks along with his brand new novel, Wytchfire, on top of 100+ journal publications, it’s clear Meyerhofer’s out to play with the best of them. It takes only a quick Google search to discover work he’s published, interviews he’s given, workshops he’s teaching and literary events he’s reading at.

About Michael Meyerhofer:

Michael’s third poetry book, Damnatio Memoriae won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. His previous books are Leaving Iowa (winner, Liam Rector First Book Award) along with Blue Collar Eulogies (Steel Toe Books’ Grub Street Book Prize finalist).

He has also published five poetry chapbooks: Pure Elysium (winner, Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest), The Clay-Shaper’s Husband (winner, Codhill Press Chapbook Award), Real Courage (winner, Terminus Magazine and Jeanne Duval Editions Poetry Chapbook Prize), The Right Madness of Beggars (winner, Uccelli Press 3rd Annual Chapbook Competition), and Cardboard Urn (winner, Copperdome Chapbook Contest).

Michael has won the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, the Laureate Prize for Poetry, the James Wright Poetry Award, and the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Quick Fiction, Split Lip Magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and other journals. He also serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review and is the author of a fantasy trilogy published by Red Adept Publishing.

About Split Lip Press:

A former top Nashville session musician, J. Scott Bugher bases Split Lip Press on the modern music industry, where recording artists understand major label record deals are things of the past, which has triggered the rise of indie labels releasing the best music out there and the decline of men in suits seeking the next Carrie Underwood. Bugher feels writers have yet to see things this way. “Writers, for some reason, sit on manuscripts for up to a decade while paying up to thousands in reading and contest fees, hoping for a major book deal,” says Bugher. “Why hold onto a manuscript for that long and pay that much when small press publishing is an option?” Though Split Lip can’t publish all it receives given its intent to release only four to six titles per year, the bookmaker believes small press publishing is the new world order for the literary scene.

For more information on Michael Meyerhofer, visit www.troublewithhammers.com.

For more information on Split Lip Press, visit www.splitlippress.com.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach Reads Her Poem “Origin”

All sorts of awesomeness has us at Split Lip Press all filled up because we’re privileged to have Uppercut Chapbook Award winner Julia Kolchinisky Dasbach on our roster. Her new chapbook, The Bear Who Ate the Stars, will be released by Split Lip Press on November 1st, and we’re eager to deliver it to you all. Julia has a poem called “Origin,” and it won Burlington Book Festival’s 2014 Short Works Writing Contest. It’s included in her forthcoming chapbook and is read by the poet below. Take a look, a listen and delight in her brilliance.