Interview with Suzanne Frischkorn from Two Sylvias' Weekly Muse:
Every other week at Two Sylvias Press, we do an interview with one of our favorite poets that ends up in the Weekly Muse (a new tool we created to help poets stay in touch, write over 100 poems in a year, find new places to submit, and more!)
Our January 1st issue featured Suzanne Frischkorn whose new book FIXED STAR is now out!
Interview with Suzanne Frischkorn: Showing Up to Write Without Expectations
TSP: Suzanne, we have been fans of your work since your first book, Lit Windowpane (2008), now your new book Fixed Star has JUST been released from Jackleg Press! (Congratulations!) How have your poems or writing process changed since your first book, and in what ways did you stretch yourself in Fixed Star?
SF: That’s so kind of you to say! Thank you so much. It’s very exciting to have a new book out in the world. These are great questions. Both Lit Windowpane, and my second book, Girl on a Bridge—for the most part—are collections of spare, lyric poems. In Fixed Star I wanted to write against that inclination and write longer, lusher poems. You will still find lean poems in this collection, but the two sonnet coronas in this book helped me write longer poems, and something about writing the prose poems lent itself to lushness for me.
The other way this book differs from my two previous collections is that it’s the first book I’ve written with an intent. I knew I wanted to write about my heritage and to do that I had to immerse myself in research. A little background — my father was a Captain in the Cuban Revolution, and my parents met when he was transporting arms for Fidel Castro through the border town of Brownsville, Texas, where my mother lived. Once Castro took power and revealed his true intentions of dictatorship rather than democracy, my parents boarded a plane to the United States, where my father ultimately became a US Citizen. Cuba was rarely spoken of in our home for fear it would upset my father and as a result, I learned very little about my heritage. To write Fixed Star required learning about Cuba’s history, the United States’ history with Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, and The Special Period. In the process, I came across Cuban poets, writers, artists, and musicians. I reconnected with extended family, and I traveled in search of answers. I definitely didn’t have to leave town to write my first two books.
TSP: What do you struggle with most as a poet, and what advice or ideas would you have for other poets who may struggle with this same issue?
SF: I would say perfectionism is something I struggle with periodically. I dread when it happens, but I’ve learned to recognize it for what it is—fear that I won’t remember how to write. It usually shows up when I’ve spent too much time away from my desk, and over the years, I’ve learned to deal with it right away. The longer you avoid the blank page the worse the perfectionism gets, at least, that’s the case for me. Some of the ways I’ve banished it are by writing a certain amount of words a day (100 words on my experience at the grocery store, or 100 words on what I noticed walking the dog etc.), doing some automatic writing, having fun with wordplay, list making, or very basic journaling. The trick is to face the fear of that blank page with no expectations to get back to your desk, or your notebook, or laptop. Essentially to show up. Eventually something changes, and you are writing again.
Suzanne Frischkorn is a Cuban-American poet. She is the author of Fixed Star (JackLeg Press 2022), Girl on a Bridge, Lit Windowpane, (both from Main Street Rag Press) and five chapbooks. She is the recipient of The Aldrich Poetry Award for her chapbook Spring Tide, selected by Mary Oliver, an Emerging Writers Fellowship from the Writer’s Center for her book Lit Windowpane, and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. She is an editor for $-Poetry is Currency and serves on the Terrain.org editorial board.