What are some of your favorite chapbooks? Or what are some chapbooks that have influenced your writing?
I really love Jennifer Denrow’s From California, On (Brave Men Press); Claudia Smith’s Put Your Head In My Lap and Myriam Gurba’s Wish You Were Me (both from Future Tense); Evelyn Hampton’s We Were Eternal and Gigantic (Magic Helicopter); Mathias Svalina’s Creation Myths (New Michigan Press); Rachel Levy’s Necessary Objects (Tree Light Books); and everything The Cupboard has released.
What might these favorite or influential chapbooks suggest about you and your writing?
I enjoy single-sitting reading experiences. I like to laugh and be surprised by images and languages; I like to feel sad and tender toward characters and speakers; I like a bite-sized reading experience that fills a person like a feast (or an all-you-can-eat buffet).
What’s your chapbook about?
Wild Thing is about ghostliness, isolation, and the long, slow process of healing.
If you have written more than one chapbook, could you describe each of them in chronological order?
2009 – parts (Mud Luscious Press): This excerpt from We Take Me Apart is about flowers, dresses, women, and fertilization. Stylistically, it is quite different from the rest of the book (most likely because it was a very, very late addition).
2009 – Bloody Floral Sandals (Scantily Clad Press): This is a small collection of some of the first poems I ever published.
2010 – Anatomy for the Artist (Blossombones): This long hybrid fiction / found poem is a piece that bears no resemblance to We Take Me Apart. But it was the first draft of what would later become WTMA. And it is the pitch that got JA Tyler at Mud Luscious to sign me, on the promise of these early pages. WTMA was my first book, and it was the first full-length title Mud Luscious ever printed, so “Anatomy” is very special to me. And I am grateful that Blossombones gave it its very own home online.
2011 – Portrait of a Modern Family (Featherproof Minibooks): This, too, was the result of patching together found text. There are a number of characters, each with their own storyline, but one character in particular—the teacher—has stayed present in almost all of my work since then. Today, she is “the tea house woman.” And you can find her in We Take Me Apart, Desire: A Haunting, and Fit Into Me.
2012 – Lost July (YesYes Books): These long prose poems / flash fictions are also crafted using found text. I used the same deconstructive/reconstructive method I had used for Portrait, and it was wonderful to have KMA Sullivan as the editor for these pieces.
2014 – Shadow Memories (Black Warrior Review): An excerpt from Desire: A Haunting, which includes the tea house woman’s sections.
What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? Or can you name one piece that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?
All of the pieces in Wild Thing emerged from Jennifer Atkinson’s poetry workshop, called 79 Works. In this class, for the entire semester, we wrote eight poems a week. As this is one more than a poem a day, we were to feel relieved of the burden of producing “good” poems. Our goal was simply to create. It was wonderful. Of course, of the 79 poems I wrote, very few made it into Wild Thing.
How did you decide on the title of your chapbook?
Wild Thing comes from DH Lawrence’s poem “Self-Pity,” which, along with GI Jane, is referenced in one of the poems.
To what degree did you collaborate on the cover image and design of your chapbook?
The cover of Wild Thing is not the first one proposed to me. I’m grateful to The Cupboard editors for being open to rethinking it.
Is there a question you wish you would have been asked about your chapbook? How would you answer it?
Perhaps something about the ending—whether it’s hopeful or defeated. My answer at the time would have been, “I don’t know.” Today, my answer is: “Hopeful, I think.”
What are you working on now?
I am working on a book about adoption. It’s too soon to say much other than that.
What is your writing practice or process? Do you have a favorite prompt or revision technique? What is it?
Marguerite Duras says, “Writing comes like the wind.” I believe this. I do not force myself to write every day. I do not feel guilty about not writing. Years can pass without writing. But when I feel something spark, I attend religiously and I devote every spare minute to the project, whether I am writing, thinking, or journaling about it. As for a favorite prompt, I suppose it’s probably safe to say that I like working with found text. As for revision, as cliché as this phrase has become, I nonetheless kill my darlings. Ruthlessly.
What advice would you offer to an aspiring chapbook author?
A chapbook is a special thing. It’s such a small vessel. Allow yourself to work in miniature, without the troubles and worries of a full-length project.
What question would you like to ask future chapbook authors featured at Speaking of Marvels?
What is the most beautiful chapbook you have ever held in your hands?
What kind of world do you think your chapbook creates? What, or who, inhabits that world?
I think Wild Thing exists in a world of the unknown. A world of longing, fear of longing, healing, and fear of not healing.
Which piece is the “misfit” in your collection and why?
Maybe “Elegy.” I’m not dead, yet.
What would you do differently next time in the writing, editing, publishing, or promotion process?
Nothing. I’m very pleased with how it all turned out. When my next full-length book comes out, though, I’ll be sure to find ways to give away Wild Thing as a bonus. I like giving away small things at readings especially. I have given away quite a lot of copies of Portrait of a Modern Family, which is easy to reproduce since it’s a Featherproof Minibook (e.g. you can print it, fold where you are told to fold, and voilà! A chapbook!).
How do you use computers/ digital technologies in all stages of your writing process?
Obsessively. I am addicted. I have no idea if I should be ashamed for this confession. (Should I?)
What was the final piece you wrote or significantly revised for the chapbook, and how did that affect your sense that the chapbook was complete?
I can’t say this with total certainty, but I’m pretty sure “Epilogue,” the final piece, was also written last. I think it was written in order to create the sense of an ending.
Who do you most hope will read your chapbook? (either an individual or a particular group of people)?
Mild TBI survivors, particularly those struggling with sensory processing disorder.
Did you set out with the intention of writing a chapbook? Does your chapbook follow a clear arc?
I think I set out to write a full-length, but in the end these few pieces are all that were necessary. They got the job done. (Although I should add that Desire: A Haunting is, in many ways, the mostly fiction version of Wild Thing, which is mostly nonfiction.)
Molly Gaudry is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, a core faculty member at the Yale Writers’ Conference, and a certified AntiGravity instructor.
A woman walks into a bar and hits her head and falls down dead. Her ghost gets up and tries to go about the rest of the day. She orders a beer but the bartender doesn’t see her. She tries to hail a cab but no one stops for her—it must be the way she looks. At home, she can’t get the key to work. She tries to call her landlord but she can’t seem to manage her phone. She walks to a friend’s house but nobody hears her knocking and she just stands outside the window and watches the friend’s whole family through the parted curtains, first as they eat dinner, then as they gather around the fireplace and go about their evening entertainments, the kids playing a card game, the adults flipping through magazines and occasionally looking up toward the news on TV. Outside, our woman is cold and hungry and tired. She curls up on the friend’s front porch, waiting for morning, hoping for someone to find her before then so they can help her through this strange world where nothing is as it was and where everything is at once familiar but also so new.