Tag Archives: Erica Wright

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Erica Wright

If You Have Two Lovers and One Is Imaginary

Twice I missed blood on the tile.
It dried into the universe,

and this is how God makes
black holes. By missing

the details while he watches
someone dry off, cup himself.

His hands are romance novels,
and I’m embarrassed.

Everyone must imagine them
on their bare stomachs and lower.

He drips sweat onto the pine
before it’s sanded and stained.

He calls his mother.
Once, before I dreamed him up,

there were nights of gunshots
out back. He wanted to leave

before dawn, but there was no way.
Even the buses had given up.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: Someone recently told me that chess players retire at thirty-five because their minds aren’t as sharp after that. Since thirty-five looms in front of me, I am stressed, though I’m not sure if this random fact is true. Does anyone know? In any case, a poem might start from something as small as this nugget of information. I sit down to write about chess and the anti-aging properties of ginkgo biloba, but the poem probably won’t turn out to be about either. Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town is my go-to craft book. Hugo talks about triggering and generating subjects, and I trust him. The trigger is merely a way to get into a poem, and I don’t worry too much about finding the perfect entry point.

Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: Oh man, so many! My 2012 project is to select a recently published online poem each week and feature it on my blog. I have discovered some wonderful poets. Anna Lowe Weber, Catherine Pierce, and Louisa Diodato, to name a few. I also read Mary Biddinger’s astonishing BLP chapbook, Saint Monica earlier this year.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: For the past few years, I’ve wanted to apply to the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. The program only funds long-term projects, though, so I don’t think that qualifies as an answer to your question. If there were a one-week writing opportunity in Antarctica, though, I would beg for admission.

Erica Wright is the author of Instructions for Killing the Jackal (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and the chapbook Silt (Dancing Girl Press, 2009). She is the poetry editor at Guernica Magazine.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Erica Wright

Debris for Looters

Flames make cousins pause
in their small-town prowl

for something to do,
someone to make miserable.

Fuel means intent means
investigation, and what are you

two standing around for?
The same weekend you hit

your friend Gary with the Jeep—
this can’t survive the fallout,

even in the fog lighting
of the local ER

where all our faces gather dust
the way prophets gather.

Waiting for the third disaster,
there is time to imagine

how carbon is mined
and how lovely our ashes would be.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: By nature I am not a jealous person, but for some reason, I believe that every other writer has a better desk than mine—bigger, less cluttered. My favorite place to write is at one of those imaginary, better desks.

Q: When I lived on the Upper West Side, I used to walk down to Riverside Park and sit on a bench by the Hudson River. I really enjoyed that, but wrote too many poems about flotsam and jetsam.

Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?

A: I remember the line—“nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands”—but I had to look up the title. And then I recalled that E. E. Cummings didn’t often title his poems. The first line of this one is “somewhere I have never travelled,gladly beyond,” and I don’t think I’ve read it since high school. Looking at it now, I wonder what drew me to it besides that final line; it’s chockfull of abstractions. I think it may have been the opening of the last stanza, which is an address to the beloved, but also articulates what my fifteen-year-old self saw in poetry: “I do not know what it is about you that closes / and opens;only something in me understands.”

Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?

A: Watching the sunset at midnight in Stykkishólmur, Iceland. It helped that my belly was full of the best cod I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know if that exactly counts as having happened to me, but it happened.

Erica Wright is the author of the forthcoming collection of poems Instructions for Killing the Jackal (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and the chapbook Silt (Dancing Girl Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, From the Fishouse, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. She is the Poetry Editor at Guernica Magazine.

BLP Expands Its List

If you’ve been following the BLP blog, then you know of a few recent additions to the BLP family. In January, we announced that we’d accepted Killing the Murnion Dogs by Joe Wilkins and Instructions for Killing the Jackal by Erica Wright, two new collections of poetry due out in August and September of next year, respectively. In February, we announced that Carol Guess had become a part of our crew of poets; her collection Doll Studies: Forensics will be out in the beginning of 2012. Also in February we announced the acceptance of the novel/novel-in-stories/memoir/we don’t know what we’re calling it yet other than “rad” Pulled from the River by Jon Chopan.

There’s been lots of action since February and we are very pleased to announce that we’ve added a few more authors to the BLP family and also have new titles forthcoming from authors who have published with us in the past. Next fall we will publish Marginalia for a Natural History, a collection of poems by Keith Taylor.

We’ve also accepted two new books by Marcel Jolley, winner of the inaugural St. Lawrence Book Award and author of Neither Here Nor There. His short story collection, Priors, will come out in the spring of 2012, to be followed by his novel Milk Run in the spring of 2013. We’ve also got some new blood in our stable of fiction writers. Loving You the Way I Do, short stories by Ron Savage will be published in the summer of 2012.

We’re also very pleased to announce that our translation list is expanding as well. Daniele Pantano, author of the poetry collection The Oldest Hands In The World and the translation The Possible is Monstrous has two more translations coming out from BLP in the next few years: Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser (Spring, 2012) and The Complete Works of Georg Trakl (Spring, 2014). We’ve also got Dream Weed, a translation of Yvan Goll poems, by Nan Watkins coming out in July, 2012.

Those of you who are fans of T.J. Beitelman (Pilgrims: A Love Story) and David Rigsbee (winner of the Spring, 2009 Black River Chapbook Competition) will be happy to know that we have full-length collections from both poets coming out in mid-2012.

And, just so you know what you have to look forward to, BLP will release the following titles before the end of 2010: Every Bitter Thing by Hardy Jones, Perishables by Tina Egnoski, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage by Michael Hemmingson, The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis, Triggermoon Triggermoon by JuliaCohen, Speech Acts by Laura McCullough, and The Pilot House by David Rigsbee.

We’ve currently closed submissions until August 15th while we catch up on submissions. We’re hoping to have more good news by the end of the summer once we read all of the manuscripts in our queue. As always, thanks for reading!

-Diane Goettel
Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press

P.S. Don’t forget that the deadline for the St. Lawrence Book Award is August 31st!

National Poetry Month Wrap-Up

As April draws to a close, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Black Lawrence Press authors who participated in our National Poetry Month feature:

David Rigsbee, “Pilot House
Marcela Sulak, “Pomelo With Fallen Angel
Shelley Puhak, “War
T.J. Beitelman, “The Inciting Incident
Laura McCullough, “The Ellisionist
Jason Tandon, “Work
Abayomi Animashaun, “A New Religion
Carol Guess, “Kicks
Joe Wilkins, “A Roadside Diner in Iowa
Lisa Fay Coutley, “In the Carnival of Breathing
Matthew Gavin Frank, “After Il Sergente Serbo e Sua Moglie
Michele Battiste, “Nobody Leaves
Katharine Rauk, “How Many Weeks are in a Day and How Many Years in a Month?
Brent Goodman, “Another Prayer
Stefi Weisburd, “Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad Daylight
Larry Matsuda, “Arc de Triomphe, 2003 Invasion of Iraq
Sandra Kolankiewicz, “Winter Sonata
Frank Matagrano, “Waiting with Alexandria for Her Mom
Hayden Saunier, “Beach
Kevin Pilkington, “Milk
Michael Hemmingson, “Sedona
Erica Wright, “Reservoir
Keith Taylor, “At the Living Creche
James Reidel, “Ave Maria afarensis
Helen Marie Casey, “Mary Dyer’s Courtship
Brad Ricca, “Workshop
Daniele Pantano, “The Oldest Hands in the World
Julia Cohen, “Panic at My Wilderness
Rachel Galvin, “In Cambium Lucida

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who read, shared, and commented on these poems — you’ve made this event a big success!

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Erica Wright


You almost want her, too,
for the way she speaks of land farmed

as a girl, how she learned machinery
and rusted tools that still do the trick

if you know which way to pull them.
Away from you, she says, taking you in.

It’s the hour of filling voids with bread
and house red wine. It’s any other restaurant.

Flushed and unsteady, you rehearse how to begin,
how best to save face when he agrees.

You fantasize scenes of collapse,
but know you will shudder the sorrow home.

Later Daniel comes to town with his face fixed.
You recall an actual moment of least worth

when you botched the severing with sincerity
only possible when partial truths are told.

The weight of someone sometimes too much
for a small frame that craves receipt.

Then the pleasure of finding yourself
after eluding satisfaction from others’

fingers and tongues, of realizing,
while it’s not their fault, it’s not yours either,

and there’s your body in your eyes grown used
to the rich, red city darkness through the blinds.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A; I don’t recall the exact shows, but I think there were crime dramas in the 90s that make me associated blinds with sexiness. Not just any old blinds, but those cheap, plastic ones that make light streak across the walls. Silk Stalkings, maybe? I watched a lot of Silk Stalkings as a teenager because it came on after La Femme Nikita. Anyway, I had successfully installed blinds on the two windows of my studio apartment. They looked out over West End Avenue, which appeared to have perfectly normal nighttime lighting, but for some reason, it was red-hued when it came into my apartment. And that was the image that triggered the poem.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: I finished Nicholas Baker’s novel The Anthologist last night and thought to myself, “I’ve been doing this writing thing all wrong! It has to be more casual.” But this morning, I decided that poetry can’t be casual. That was a bit disappointing because I had already imagined myself writing these little off-handed pieces about, say, mailboxes or giraffes. A book of poems that is deceptively casual is Mark Yakich’s The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine. He’s got it right. To give an overly specific answer to your question, Tadeusz Dąbrowski’s poem “The other part of truth” made me want to write. His book Black Square will be published in English (with Antonia Lloyd-Jones’s translations) this spring by Zephyr Press.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: I am a disaster in the kitchen. Over-cooked noodles and burned anything are my specialties. So I eat too much Chinese takeout. Anything home-cooked is sublime. I also accept leftovers.

Erica Wright’s poetry collection Instructions for Killing the Jackal is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

BLP Celebrates National Poetry Month

Black Lawrence Press will celebrate National Poetry Month by featuring a poem by one of our authors every day on the blog. Each poem will be accompanied by a short Q&A with the author. Participating authors include:

Abayomi Animashaun
Michele Battiste
T.J. Beitelman
Helen Marie Casey
Lisa Fay Coutley
Matthew Gavin Frank
Rachel Galvin
Brent Goodman
Carol Guess
Sandra Kolankiewicz
Frank Matagrano
Lawrance Matsuda
Laura McCullough
Kevin Pilkington
Shelley Puhak
Katharine Rauk
James Reidel
Brad Ricca
David Rigsbee
Hayden Saunier
Marcela Sulak
Jason Tandon
Keith Taylor
Stefi Weisburd
Joe Wilkins
Erica Wright

So be sure to check the BLP blog every day in the month of April for some great reading!

BLP Accepts Erica Wright’s Instructions for Killing the Jackal

Black Lawrence Press wrung in the New Year by accepting Instructions for Killing the Jackal, a wonderful new collection of poems by Erica Wright.

Erica Wright the Poetry Editor at Guernica Magazine. She received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University and her poems have appeared in publications such as Denver Quarterly Review, Harpur Palate, Memorious, Pequod, Small Spiral Notebook, and on From the Fishouse. Her chapbook Silt is available from Dancing Girl Press. Erica teaches poetry at New York University’s School of Continuing Studies.