Interview With Handsome
Author: Paige Ackerson-Kiely & Allison Titus
Now in its fifth issue, Handsome remains dedicated to showcasing an equal proportion of emerging & established poets. We’re often publishing writers that we’ve never read before & those discoveries always feel exciting to us.
What sort of qualities do you look for in a manuscript or piece of work that you are considering for publication?
It’s simple. We like poems that have a lot of guts in them.
Do you have a specific aesthetic preference? How would you describe that aesthetic?
Here are two poems recently published in Handsome that might give you an idea:
[a poem by y madrone from issue 3]
a chest is an embarrassment to have.
I am embarrassed to write anything honest. I am embarrassed for every word. for all my predicates & names. for my lover, my children, the color of my walls. I am embarrassed about desires, my pronouns, tea choices. of my jokes & parts, I am embarrassed of my breasts—no, I hate my breasts, but am too embarrassed to say anything. there are so many things I wish to say, please, will I always feel too embarrassed. my dishes so embarrassing, how they mismatch & break, how my pants are labeled not your daughter’s pants—that’s embarrassing. my messy house, my failing wardrobe, my dildos—all embarrassed.
and from issue 5, a poem by Lauren de Paepe:
Dwindling That Spring I Took That Gun and Loosened Its Barrel
Unspeakable—the ash /snowing from mouths
pallor: of slack tongues/ cloaks the cockatiels
inbred parlors/of moth—loosestrife—sprung from grout
—ugly his manor: porch-drunk/shallow-keeled
—tornado O lust—wide door/less eye
needles the fray—beds /unraveling sling
pinballed/calm fenced—in wreckage—bite her thighs:
glass-smitten/severed— carina/two wings
unhitched—stones out back orphaned/lungs —flightless
organ/in fugue staked with vines —understand
this bruise—: casements wedlocked/in rust desperate
trust in weathered beatings /rouge battened hands
ballet of lunges /leashed to rough habit—
doors knobbed/with coals—this blood’s brand of exit:
What is the next exciting thing happening at Handsome?
We are asking one poet per issue to create a longer form project or folio … an exploration of / an inquiry into / a meditation on their preoccupation of choice; projects that test the limits of language and art, and might otherwise have difficulty finding their way into print.