Featured Author: Susan Konz
Why do you write? What purpose does writing serve for you currently?
I write because everything bounces around my head after I see it or hear it. I feel really drawn to sound and relationships – not just between people, but between things. The way objects look in relationship to each other, the backdrop in which you are being told the story: where are you set? How do you tell it? All these spaces between and around give context – I write to map them out in a way. Writing serves the purpose of letting me work out these ideas, to set things in place in my own mind.
How do you usually start a poem, story, etc?
Usually a poem starts with a line or a phrase that I’ve come to that I want to expand on. Sometimes it’s a line from a piece that went nowhere or from a free write or it just flew in through the window. If I feel compelled toward a certain line I’ll write from there and see where it goes. A lot of times I’ll have a feeling that there’s a poem somewhere in something (some idea or thing that recently happened or person or whatever) but I won’t know where or what the poem is. Then I try to just write anything, just tons of lines and words about and around whatever it is I’m bouncing around in my head until something emerges from that.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
I do not know how to answer that, but I can tell you when it’s not finished. For me, at least, I have this cycle of love/(deep bitter)hate with my own stuff. I’ll write something and say, oh man, that’s all right, not bad, kid, poems were a smart thing for you to want to write, and so on. Two days or weeks later I’ll pick it back up and say, what a gigantic load of the most ridiculous pretentious bullshit (can I say bullshit in a zine?) I’ve ever read, why even, etc. etc. ad (literal) nauseam. This goes back and forth every time I go back to edit or reread. At some point I can no longer look at the poem. The poem has become a string of poorly punctuated nonsense words. In fact, I have forgotten how to read entirely at this point, all I can do is stare at letters. This is when I’d say you’d think the poem is finished. But I think not. I think this is when you stuff the poem back into the notebook, shove the notebook under your mattress, and try to forget it until you can come back to it fresh, like, say, a year later or decade or in two months, who knows. When you come back to it then, maybe you can look at it and say, yeah, okay, this is what this is going to be. I think that’s when you know.
What writers/artists are influencing you right now?
I’ve been going back to a lot of poets that I’ve loved in the past: Ai, Lucille Clifton, Louise Gluck, Marie Howe, Louise Erdrich. I’ve been really drawn to what I think of as the feminine aspects of their work. Like Clifton and the way she talks about women & maternal relationships, the way she approaches sex and the feminine sexual. I’ve also been rereading a lot of David Foster Wallace and just loving the millions of webs and tentacles to his stories that are constantly expanding out and collapsing in on each other. I admire that ability to keep eighty balls in the air, to balance all these strange, disparate concepts and to try to connect and relate them to each other. I’ve been listening to a lot of rap and Leonard Cohen so whatever that’s doing to my psyche is also happening.
What do you want people to know about your work?
I want what I write to say what it says on its own and that it should do that work and be worthwhile enough that it communicates feeling and experience and whatever else I’m meaning to communicate without needing caveat. Sometimes I think I should shut up and let the poem talk.
What question do you wish I asked you?
I wish you had asked me How come? Why not?