Sharon Venezio – “Next Big Thing” Interview

Thanks to the talented Lynne Thompson for tagging me in this chain letter interview.  It was great fun to read her interview and reflect on these questions.  Lynne’s new book Start With A Small Guitar is due out by What Book Press in the fall of 2013. Can’t wait!  Thanks, Lynne, for including me in this project.

Author: Sharon Venezio

What is the working title of the book:

The book is titled The Silence of Doorways.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

About eight or nine years ago, I put together a collection of poems for my graduate thesis which was divided into sections based on geography.  It seemed to me that the sections had distinct personalities and I was interested in the idea of how landscape and location can shape a poem.  Over time the manuscript morphed into something entirely different.  I believe only two or three of the original poems remain, but that variability is still there.  It took some time for me to realize the themes and connections and to see how these different voices coalesce.  It was about a year and a half ago when I really focused my efforts and gained momentum; that’s when it all started to come together.  The language of photography began to surface in many of the poems and became one of the main motifs.  Rather than being divided by geography, the sections come from photography: Portraits, Landscapes, Single Exposure, Multiple Exposures, and Over Exposures.  This concept really opened the book up for me.  My father is a nature photographer and the theme came from the poems about family but it grew to take on a larger meaning in the book; it plays off other themes such as memory, loss, identity, and how memory can be fragmented and fluid.

What genre does your book full under?

Poetry.

What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

What a question!  I’m imagining people throwing popcorn at the screen.  The book does have a narrative thread but there are also poems and sections that resist narrative.  It’s much easier for me to answer this question in terms of directors rather than actors.  If I could have my way, I’d choose the visual sensibility of Terrence Malick or Wong Kar-wai.  Their films seem more concerned with the senses than with story.  I feel the same way about poetry.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of this book?

In the forward, Dorothy Barresi says “Loss is at the heart of The Silence of Doorways, as is its twin, desire…” and I suppose I won’t argue with her.  It’s about family, identity, love and loss.  

Since the book has come out, many people ask me what it’s about or what the poems are about and this very simple question always makes me stumble.  I find it challenging to summarize what a poem is about or even a whole book of poems. I like Creeley’s idea of a poem being a “complex.” These days I’m more concerned with the how than the what.  I appreciate poetry that is rooted in story, but personally I don’t get too hung up on meaning.  I love when a poem tells me what I’m thinking rather than the other way around.  I try not to ask what the poem is about until it’s nearly done.  The same was true for my book.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book was published by Moon Tide Press in March 2013.   It’s available on Amazon and through www.moontidepress.com.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Many of the poems in this book had to be written.  When writing certain poems, there was a psychological catharsis that took place in the working through of the poem, a type of grounding.  The poems about family were inevitable, even after I decided I was never going to write another family poem, they would just appear and there was no fighting it.  One answer to this question is that I was inspired by the past and the idea of playing with language and memory.  I suppose I’m inspired to write because I’m a happier person when I write.  I had desire and ambition to write a book because books have been an important part of my life.  Some of the poems came in a flash of inspiration but most were the result of sitting down at a computer, battling inattention, and slowly pulling a poem out.  I imagine this is true for most people.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Even though a few of the poems were written nearly ten years ago, it really feels like I started writing the book about two years ago, at least that’s when I got serious.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Section two is a collage poem, though not in the strict sense because it does include some original text with the borrowed text.  But moving from section one, which is fairly narrative to section two is hopefully an interesting transition for the reader.

Next up: I’m tagging Georgia Jones-Davis and Jerry Garcia