Rachel B. Glaser – First Book Interview
Interview by Kallie Falandays with Rachel B. Glaser, the author of MOODS from Factory Hollow Press (2013)
What is your favorite part about having a new book published?
I like having stacks of it in my room. It excites and unsettles me, like there is something unsound about having multiple copies of the same book. Like I’m hoarding it, and no one else even knows about it.
You occasionally teach writing at Flying Object. How did that come about and how did they come to publish your new book MOODS?
I’ve had the honor of teaching Creative Writing at Flying Object for the last three years. It is the only place I have ever taught Creative Writing, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity Guy Pettit (Flying Object’s creator) gave me. It has given me so much teaching experience and confidence. I’ve made countless friends there over the years, and read so much great writing!
At the time Factory Hollow Press accepted MOODS for publication, the two organizations (Flying Object and FHP) were just affiliated with each other, but around the time that MOODS came out, the two officially joined. Guy Pettit, Emily Pettit, and Luke Bloomfield are the editors of an online journal Notnostrums that published two of my earliest poems. In the years since, both Pettits and Dara Wier (the three editors of FHP) became familiar with my work. I’ve heard it was Guy Pettit’s idea to publish my first book of poems. Their interest made me take my manuscript more seriously.
What was it like to have your first book of poems published?
It was a lot of fun! Both of my books have been published on small presses, which has allowed me to learn a lot about the process. In this case, I got to visit the printer and see all the machines and the galleys, and watch them get the ink levels right, and breathe in the weird air in there. I’ve had the good fortune of working with very accommodating publishers, so it’s never felt like work, just a very exciting collaboration.
Where were most of these poems written?
The poems were written between 2007-2012. Some are from my first semester at Umass-Amherst, where I took an influential, inspiring workshop taught by Peter Gizzi. Since I was writing fiction during those years, and a screenplay too (with the poet Noah Gershman), the manuscript came together slowly, almost without me realizing it.
Who are some contemporary poets that you admire or want to collaborate with?
I am a huge fan of the poems of Mark Leidner, Chelsea Minnis, Christopher Cheney, James Tate, and Halie Theoharides, whose names stick out to me among scores of other great poets, many of whom I get to interact with on an almost daily basis. This is a wonderful side effect of having gone to Umass-Amherst’s MFA Program and sticking around town– I am always watching basketball with great poets, and going to the gym with great poets. All day I’m with great poets, picking them up at the airport, playing badminton, carpooling with great poets, email chains with great poets, etc.
During your MFA did you focus on poetry, fiction or both?
I applied and got into the Fiction program at Umass, but during my first semester, had such a great time in Peter Gizzi’s workshop and with poetry in general and the talented poets around me, that I considered switching genres, eventually deciding to take a poetry workshop every semester in addition to my fiction workshops. Umass’s MFA forces all fiction writers to take one poetry workshop, and all poets to take one fiction workshop, and this is such a great rule! It makes workshops more interesting, and allows writers to play in a genre in which they have little identity.
You also create animations, paintings, drawings, and sculptures. What is your favorite way to create?
I think animation is maybe the most surprising and satisfying, but also the hardest. I haven’t animated in almost a decade. Once I made a sculpture installation that had a mini working fountain, and a rotating tower. Movement is very exciting to create. Oil paint is intoxicating when it’s going well. But one thing I love about writing is that I can take a little notebook anywhere, that I can write in bed, that any text or overheard line can be a start to something.
What are some other ventures you’d like to explore?
I like patterns, and have always wanted to design wrapping paper, or wall paper, or bedsheets, leggings, table clothes–anything with a pattern. Also, I like the idea of writing for a TV show. I glorify it (probably), picturing brainstorming at a long table. Or making NBA commercials with my friends at The Peach Basket, a basketball blog written by poets.
How did you come up with a title for your book?
MOODS is the title of a Louisa May Alcott book I’ve never read (I’ve started it though!). I’ve always admired the bold title. I’d never heard of the book, until I researched Alcott for an experimental story I was writing (The Magic Umbrella). In this story I called Moods “a precursor to lava lamps.” For the last few years, I’ve been sort of marveling at moods, noting how they color how we see the world, what we see as true. The associative nature of my poems, their sudden turns and declarations, seem mood-based, rather than fact-based.
My favorite line from your book is “he is invisible/ no one can help him.” What is your favorite line?
there are the women of the past (brushing the hairs of a wild fire)
and then women of the future (coolly zapping a dlonze)
What is the title of the last poem you’ve written?
I love songs about love
What are some dream journals you’d like to be published in?
One day I want to crack into the New Yorker fiction column with a short story. It might take me until I’m like 80, but I have time to commit to this. My fiction style isn’t exactly what they are looking for, but I’m open to different styles.. I can change for them!
Where do you see yourself and your writing in 5 years?
In the next few years I hope to publish a bunch of in-progress projects, including a novel called “Paulina & Fran”, a story collection “The Ellens”, a book of poetry “HAIRDO”, and a screenplay about basketball “Small Ball.”
Rachel B. Glaser is the author of the new poetry book “MOODS” (Factory Hollow Press, 2013) and the story collection “Pee On Water” (Publishing Genius Press, 2010). She teaches Creative Writing at Flying Object in Hadley, MA and paints basketball players among other subjects. For more information visit Rachelbglaser.blogspot.