Caroline Crew – First Book Interview

Caroline Crew, the author of Small Colours Like Wild Tongues (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), sat down with LitBridge to discuss her first book with Kallie Falandays.

Kallie-Your chapbook “Small Colours Like Wild Tongues” was just published by dancing girl press. How long did it take for you to write the book? And, after you wrote it, how long did it take for it to get picked up?

Caroline- Most of those poems happened in a 6 or 7 month period when I was living in Atlanta and a few just after I moved backed to England. That transition pulled them together. I put it away, I think, in September 2011 and sent it out a few place, and dancing girl press picked it up the following June.

How did you decide which poem would go first? How did you figure out the order for your poems?

You know how sometimes you have this really ugly thing– like 70s floral wallpaper or really ugly clogs that no one else loves but you? Well that’s how it was with ‘call the adventure Science,’ for some reason it’s my ugly wallpaper pet, plus I wanted the journey to be set up with the body as a vehicle / space.

Throughout your chapbook you use the word “darling.” Do you know when or how you started using that word?

I think I noticed it as a word that doesn’t happen the same in America. It isn’t natural for me to say it either (I end up sounding somewhere between Ab Fab and a cockney impression) but it’s definitely a marker of slight mocking and much affection that comes with being English in the US.

Many of your poems are questions to other authors. If you could take one author on a date who would it be and what would you order?

Ha! This is something I think about everyday because at the moment I hang out with Elizabeth Barrett-Browning in one way or another. She’s my girl. Re-reading Spicer’s After Lorca, made me realise that a lot of what I’d been doing was finding my own ancestors. And I think one of them is Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. Plus I think she’d have some good stories about being a cougar, eschewing gendered expectations and pets. I would let her order whatever she wanted (although, as an anorexic, this may prove awful, sorry EBB) and I would have gin.

When did you start writing? Do you remember what drew you to this art over other art forms?

I don’t really remember, I wrote little poems when I was really tiny but also made mud pies and snail hospitals. I guess maybe I wanted a slightly less dirt-filled life? I suck musically and aside from being a pretty good knitter / embroiderer (I swear I am not a grandma) visual arts never come out of my head right.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Words that I use a lot as talismans.

What are you currently working on?

A manuscript of plastic sonnets that are reworkings of Sonnets from the Portuguese, a collaborative chapbook of horoscopes and feelings with Chris Emslie, and packing.

What have you been reading/researching/looking at that inspires you?

Honestly if I am having a bad time writing, I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because that is a good kick up the butt. Currently I’ve been reading a history of anorexia, because somehow it’s an obsession I keep coming back to. I’m reading Ammons for the first time and that’s a huge eye-opener, as well as Clark Coolidge. Someone who I think we should all read more is Cate Peebles. Her poems are like the circus. But if I want non-book inspiration, I go outside and talk to people, or I eat kale.

If you could write a poem about only one thing for the rest of your life, what would that one thing be?

Colours. Light. Ladies. Actually that could all fit into one thing if it was fireworks, specifically, catherine wheels.

If you could be picked up by any one publisher or small press which publisher or press and why?

There are so many presses doing amazing work. My first love in that regard will probably always be H_NGM_N, but then there’s Octopus, Les Figues, Black Ocean, YesYesBooks, Bloof, FENCE… we have a big house, here, don’t we?

Many of your poems contain animals. If you could be shape shift what animal would you shape shift into?

Whale. Definitely whale. I have already sent 2+ emails today stating (again) how amazing I think whales are.

Is there a particular space in which you like to write? Do you have any “writing routines”?

I’m not very good at keeping a habit. Just now I have found one cafe that has a terrace and that is great, but I am also a large fan and frequenter of my bed.

What does your google search history look like? What are the last 5 things you looked up?

“what time is it in singapore”

“split test”

“corn mutation”

“the golden rule”

“jubilante agno”

Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years (or where would you like to see it)?

Somewhere with a smoking terrace, with Chris Emslie and cheap wine, making high-pitched noises about poems we like.