The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

30 Jan

Prison-Shiv-001

My friend, the talented poet Mary Stone Dockery, tagged me to take part in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  What this means is that Mary sent me a list of questions to answer about one of my current artistic projects.  I’m going to answer the questions here on my blog, and then tag five other writers who will answer the same questions next week. It’s a really fun way to learn about what different writers and artists are currently working on.  If you’d like to read Mary’s answers to the questions, you can find her answers here.  Also, Nathaniel Tower has been working on compiling a list of people who have taken part in The Next Big Thing so far, if you’d like to read more interviews.

What is the working title of the book?

An Assortment of Shivs, or just Shivs

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I will be reading in the phenomenal Taproom Poetry Series, curated by Megan Kaminski, Jim McCrary and Sorcha Hyland, on February 10th.  At each poetry reading in the series, Megan or Sorcha mention the “merch table,” indicating that some of the readers may have things for sale on it.  I first heard the word “merch” combined with “table” in a conversation with Iris Moulton in 2009.  Since that time, I often find myself, listless, standing in a kitchen, saying “merch table” softly to myself, repeating it, and wondering how I can get involved with a merch table, what is it that a merch table wants, why does the word “merch” make me think of the word “lichen”?

What genre does your book fall under?

Your mom.  Just kidding.  It’s a poetry chapbook—a very, very small one.  I’m making them myself, folding them, sewing them together, and leaving the pages uncut.  Each chapbook will include a very small shiv that I will fashion myself, out of found objects.  At first, I wanted to buy toothbrushes at a Dollar Store and then make the shivs out of those, riffing off of prison shiv construction, but then I thought that wouldn’t really be in the spirit of an actual shiv, made from found objects, so I decided I should only use found objects to make the shivs.  I live way out in the country, so some of them will probably be made from stone, and from metal, and a few from bone.  I will make a sign to warn the vegans away from the bone ones, and draw the non-vegans toward them, tantalizing them.  My idea is that the reader will be able to use the shiv to cut open the pages of the chapbook.  This is my first foray into chapbook construction, although I have been a long-time admirer.  Poet Robert J. Baumann used to make beautiful chapbooks for his Mitzvah Chaps.  I took a one-day class in book-making at the University of Kansas library last year.

Wait, is chapbook a genre?  Not really.  Poetry?  Your mom.

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

A movie rendition of a poem?  Björk.  The answer to this question is always Björk.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Shiv is a micro-chapbook of univocalic poems.

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

“Manuscript” is a little bit lofty for this thing.  I think there will be seven poems in it, total.  The first draft of the poems was completed a couple of days ago, and I expect to go through several more drafts before making the chapbooks.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My friend, the artist John Jenkins, used to curate an online series called NFDU Projects.  John lived and taught in Australia.  For one of his projects, Debris, John asked artists to walk around their neighborhoods, around the globe, and pick up whatever objects they found and scan them.  The idea of making shivs for the chapbook out of found objects was inspired by this.

The idea of writing a chapbook of poems titled Shivs came from a texting conversation with my friend Marty Baldwin.  I told her I could have lunch with her on Fridays, but then remembered that I don’t have office hours on Fridays (I teach at a university), so I sent her a text that said “Since I don’t have office hours on Fridays, I can’t have lunch with you on those days, because I’ll be off-campus, committing crimes and making an assortment of shivs.”

Making the poems univocalic probably stems from a fascination with the book Eunoia by Christian Bök. I wrote a univocalic poem called, oddly enough, “[Spring Kinks Its Shiv]” that was published in the most recent issue of Parcel magazine edited by Justin Runge, a very talented poet who lives in my town and whom I always fail to have conversations with.  Writing that poem for Parcel made me want to write more univocalic poems about shivs.

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

I’m only making twenty of them.  What am I, made out of chapbooks?

A few of my favorite writers who will answer these questions next week:

Jeff Tigchelaar

Amy Ash

2 Responses to “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop”

  1. Nathaniel Tower February 1, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Benjamin, great interview. I added this to the database. Thanks for the mention.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Database « Write, Juggle, Run - February 1, 2013

    […] Benjamin D Cartwright (30 January 2013) […]

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