Sarah Mangold

“My favorite writing prompt is a collage cut-up.”


A Copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert (above/ground press, 2016)

What’s your chapbook about?

Visual perspective, landscape painting, attempting to re-create nature.

What other chapbooks have you written?

The Goddess Can Be Recognized By Her Step (Dusie Kollektiv, 2014)

I Meant to Be Transparent (Little Red Leaves e-editions, 2012)

Cupcake Royale (above/ground press, 2012)

An Antenna Called the Body (Little Red Leaves Textile Series, 2011)

Parlor (Dusie Kollektiv e-chap, 2007 & reprint 2013, above/ground press)

Picture of the Basket (Dusie Kollektiv e-chap, 2006)

Boxer Rebellion (g o n g, 2004)

Blood Substitutes (Potes & Poets Press 1998)

What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? Or can you name one poem that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?

The oldest poem is the linked series beginning with “Linear perspective has a history,” which first appeared online in YEW in 2014.  The poem is an erasure and collage of Hubert Damisch’s A Theory of Cloud: Toward a History of Painting. I remember being completely entranced by Damisch and reading in the morning in the cafeteria at work before heading to my cubicle. I can go into detail about the chairs and change of light and seeing the Space Needle and Mount Rainer from the cafeteria windows. But really, this poem was the start of looking at nature painting and the history of painting diorama backgrounds.

 Describe your writing practice or process for your chapbook. Do you have a favorite prompt or revision strategy? What is it? 

I tend to write towards the individual poem and then see if I have a general theme happening after a few poems have accumulated. My current Wilderness manuscript, which this chapbook is part of, quickly presented itself as “project.” For the last few years I have been reading taxidermy manuals from the 1800s and travel diaries from early women naturalists and museum workers. I usually use erasure and collage to make my poems, with the poems always being in conversation with what I’m currently reading. My favorite writing prompt is a collage cut-up. I cut up magazine articles into three or four word groups and dump them in a box, pick 50 at random and lay them out on a piece of paper, then try to make a poem as fast as I can with just the words at hand.

To what degree did you collaborate on the cover image and design of your chapbook?

rob mclennan, the publisher of above/ground, asked for ideas, and I found an image of a wood cut from Descartes’ 1644 Principles of Philosophy, which seemed to sum up the chapbook. “Descartes believed that light rays impressed subtle particles into the eyes. The image was then transmitted to the pineal gland, which served as the nexus between mind and body. In the diagram the external stimulus is translated into an act of will (pointing) by the pineal gland.”

What are you working on now? 

For the last four years I’ve been working on a manuscript Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners which explores taxidermy, natural history dioramas, and visual perspective as it relates to gender, bodies, and landscape. My new chapbook is part of this manuscript. I’m looking for a publisher for the larger book.

What advice would you offer to students interested in creative writing?

Write, read widely, go to readings or check them out online if you don’t have access to live events, check out the PennSound archive, read science, read everything, learn a second or third language, find writing you connect with and see how that writer makes/made their way in the world.

What question would you like to ask future writers featured at Speaking of Marvels?

How did you find your chapbook publisher?

 What music do you listen to as you work and write?

Lately it has been Spotify’s “Hipster House Party” playlist

What was the last book you read that made you stop reading, just for a moment even, because you didn’t want it to be over?

C.D. Wright’s The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All

Without stopping to think, who are ten poets whose work you would tattoo on your body, or at least your clothing, to take with you at all times?

C.D. Wright

Susan Howe

Beverly Dahlen

Barbara Guest

Jack Spicer

Robert Duncan

Michael Palmer

Myung Mi Kim

Rosmarie Waldrop

Lorine Niedecker


Sarah Mangold is the author of Giraffes of Devotion, forthcoming in 2016 from Kore Press, as well as Electrical Theories of Femininity (Black Radish Books, 2015), and Household Mechanics (New Issues Press, 2002), which was selected by C.D. Wright for the New Issues Poetry Prize. From 2002-2009 she edited Bird Dog, a print journal of innovative writing and art. She has received fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Willapa Bay Air, and the Seattle Arts Commission. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives in Seattle.

Sarah Mangold


Frame as if faith


Transient unicorn

emphasize the whiteness


seek from chance

what nature dispenses


operate as indicator

by no means fortuitous


a place comparable

held by draperies

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