Monday, October 07, 2013

Interview with Poet Alexis Ivy, Author of Romance with Small-Time Crooks (BlazeVOX Books)


1)  Alexis, congratulations on your new book of poems, Romance with Small-Time Crooks (BlazeVOX Books).  These poems dive deep into a life of struggles where drugs, sex, and alcohol are not uncommon and the "heart is in the wrong place to begin with." As readers, we become lost in this world which is both gritty and beautiful, hardscrabble and heart-stirring.

As a poet it's important to take risks in your work, you take many risks both with your content as well as in what you reveal. Early on in the book you are self-referential and the poems are written in "I" voice, which as Marvin Bell "is not the poet, but someone who knows a lot about her."   Do you consider these poems persona poems, autobiographical poems, a mix of both, or something else?  

I don’t see poetry as autobiographical.  Poetry isn’t memoir.  My poetry is on the verge of confessional.  The poems in Romance with Small-Time Crooks are a version of the truth, not the truth. 

2)  What were the challenges of writing these poems?  How long did the collection take to write?

I had to stop living the way I was living to finish the book.  You know, I had to get away from the life to write the life.  I had to get sober to complete this book. 

It took ten years total to finish the book.  Eight spent writing it and two years of sending it out. 

3)  The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous!  How did it come about?  Were you able to offer input on your cover art or was that handled by the press?

My publisher gave me the option.  Of course I wanted to be part of the process.  I met with a friend and fellow poet.  I brought a deck of cards and he brought a camera.  We took 500+ pictures and I ended up becoming a hand model.

4)  What was hardest part in publishing this book or in the publication process?  

Letting it go.  Stop working it.  It took me awhile to stop writing in the voice and tone of this book.  I kept writing poems for the book, in the theme of the book. I had to send the final version but I could’ve kept revising for a lifetime. 

5)  What is your favorite poem from the book and can you share it here?

It changes.  I’m connected to different ones at different times.  I’m proud of my formal poems such as "Truth Is," "Hi, Mt Name’s Alexis, River Styx."  Also, the ones I love to read— "Greyhound East", "I Have My Reasons", "At The Plough & Stars." 

Here’s a Shakespearian sonnet:


and I’m an addict and the more rain pours,
the more I remember I wasn’t made for simple,
never learned anything simple. I wanted unadored,
left out, missed-out, to be unsayable,
a speech impediment. I love trouble,
know only trouble, licking the soles of any friend’s
shoes, bark up the wrong lumber, the valid bull-
shit, the going-nowheres, the too many men,
the always-till-forevers, the habitually-bad-
beats. A dance with death to have a revelation,
to get back to fair shake, to water and mend. Had
to quit quitting on me to find salvation.
Bless being careful. Bless being mine
again, beautiful for the first last time.

6)  How is promoting your book going (any good stories or advice for others with books) and what are you working on now?

Going great.  Lots of readings.  That is the best way to get out there.  Also, I get to see the raw reaction of the listener-reader of my work.   O, word of advice:  Always carry an extra copy of your work,you never know. 

For the past two years I’ve been working on a new collection of poems.  Half way through, supposedly.  Very different process than Romance with Small-Time Crooks.  The order and chronology of the poems isn’t as obvious in the new work.  As of late, I’ve published five new pieces and all my new poems are out to literary journals so I’ve been a dog for the US mail. 


You can purchase Alexis' book directly from BlazeVox here .  
And it's also available on Amazon and for your Kindle here.

~ Kells

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