“Writing is only done by the doing.”
Before Snowfall, After Rain (Glass Poetry Press, 2016)
What are some of your favorite chapbooks?
Some of my favorite chapbooks: How Things Tasted When We Were Young by Nadra Mabrouk (Finishing Line Press), Suddenly Nobody by Christan Carter Cannella (Brick House Books), Until the Foxes by C.M Keehl (Ghost City Press), Perish the Day by Gerald Stern (Miramar Editions), On Not Screaming by Eloisa Amezcua (Horseless Press), The Mark My Body Draws in Light by Madeleine Barnes (Finishing Line Press), Last Train to the Midnight Market by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello (Finishing Line Press), I Have Learned to Define a Field as a Space Between Mountains by Rio Cortez (Jai-Alai Books), Pound of Steam by Dessa (Rain Taxi), Shirt by Regan Farquhar aka Busdriver (Fake Four Inc), To Gain the Day by Anthony Frame (Red Bird Chapbooks), The Iceland by Sakutaro Hagiwara (New Directions). (And like 20 more but I guess I have to cut the list off at some point).
What might these favorite chapbooks suggest about you?
What they suggest about me is that I like to carry a lot of books on me at all times, so the smaller they are the more I can carry (thumbs up emoji).
Does the chapbook form have an impact on the politics of the poems that appear inside it?
Maybe. I think a book is context, so the less context a poem has to work with, the harder it has to work. Not sure if that answers the question.
What obsessions led you to write your chapbook?
Solitude (voluntary and involuntary), being broke, the endless task of trying to make sense of my experiences and memories.
What’s your chapbook about?
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 piece in the chapbook is definitely “Perhaps It Wasn’t Such a Perfect Day for Bananafish.” I wrote that in the summer of 2012, though it’s based on day from way back in the summer of 2008.
Which poem in your chapbook has the most meaningful back story to you? What’s the backstory?
Definitely “Driving Past Lake Tohopekaliga,” the backstory of which is essentially in the poem.
Which poem is the “misfit” in your collection and why?
I think “Jay Gatsby on Karaoke Night” because of its I-lessness, focusing instead on a very well-known character. I like the poem, since taking myself out of a poem is not something I do very often, but it does make it stand out a little, I think. The other poems in my chapbook are in my forthcoming full-length debut All My Heroes Are Broke (C&R Press, 2017), but this poem didn’t make the final cut. Another L for Gatsby, I guess.
Describe your writing practice or process for your chapbook. Do you have a favorite prompt or revision strategy? What is it?
My favorite revision strategy is reading the poems aloud to myself (when my roommate isn’t home, of course). The only prompt I ever really use is stealing a line that I really like from another poet and using it as a title (for example “Nighthawks of the 24-Hour Donut Shops” is a line from Campbell McGrath (it’s cool, he knows).
What has the editorial and production experience with the press who picked up your chapbook been like? To what degree did you collaborate on the cover image and design of your chapbook?
IT WAS AMAZING, SHOUTOUT TO GLASS POETRY PRESS AND ANTHONY FRAME FOR BEING THE GREATEST DUDE IN THE WORLD. I got as much say in the cover image and design of the chapbook, which was pretty awesome. (Also shoutout to Maddie for the cover art).
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second, third, and fifth full length poetry collections. I’m also working on getting a job in NYC (not sure which of these is more difficult, to be honest).
If you could choose another artistic path (painting, music, dance, etc.) what would it be and why?
Film is the only other art form that truly interests me but it’s so goddamn inherently collaborative that I don’t think I’ll ever really bother with it.
What advice would you offer to students interested in creative writing?
Read a lot and then read even more and also practice writing. Writing is only done by the doing. You won’t get shit done if you just sit around waiting for inspiration.
What question would you like to ask future writers featured at Speaking of Marvels?
If you could write a collaborative chapbook with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Ariel Francisco is the author of All My Heroes Are Broke (C&R Press, 2017) and Before Snowfall, After Rain (Glass Poetry Press, 2016). Born in the Bronx to Dominican and Guatemalan parents, he was raised in Miami and completed his MFA at Florida International University. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2016, Gulf Coast, Poets.org, Prelude, Washington Square, and elsewhere. He lives in South Florida (for now).