“He produces all copies by hand with love.”
A Short Tablature of Loss (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017)
Could you share with us a representative or pivotal poem from your chapbook? Perhaps something that introduces the work of the chapbook, or that invites the reader into the world of the chapbook?
Lately I have been a gap.
Moth clouds follow me to bed.
I counted them: twenty, fifty, block, choke.
In the room where I used to sleep
a breath hangs low on the bed
and hoarsens the room.
No one knows where the air is
charged and released into the world,
but it thistles.
This is how breathing fills a house
with family: breathing to draw
the buzzing to its source
and breathing to lacquer a plugged maze.
How a house fully beamed and walled
is not a house, but a husk.
How a life in the span of a few breaths
becomes a clockless thing.
Why did you choose this poem?
This poem was the first in the chapbook project, which later turned into a book project (Citizens of the Mausoleum, forthcoming from Sundress Publications). It’s a quiet piece and a meditation, which is characteristic of the extended elegy found in the chapbook.
What obsessions led you to write your chapbook?
The major impetus was the death of my mother. But the chapbook is about loss generally, and the loss of many other things. I have a background in philosophy and so have spent some time thinking about the meaning of death from a metaphysical point of view. This led me to ask questions that were worked out in various poems.
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?
Ron Mohring at Seven Kitchens Press takes great care to produce high-quality chapbooks that can rightfully be considered art. He produces all copies by hand with love. The editorial process has been straightforward and professional. I left the cover image entirely to him, and he took the photograph which composes it. When I saw it, I knew that it was a perfect accompaniment to the tone and atmosphere of my work.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m focused on a book of poems about Brownsville, Texas artist Alfredo Bustinza. Bustinza was murdered in my hometown and his story as an artistic genius who was never really appreciated by his people has been a source of interest to me for years.
If you could choose another artistic path (painting, music, dance, etc.) what would it be and why?
I’d probably be a musician. I’d love to play piano or guitar, but I have absolutely no physical coordination or mathematical ability. Or much musical ability, really. But I enjoy it and could see myself living a life as a journeyman guitar player or a night club pianist.
What advice would you offer to students interested in creative writing?
The best way to learn creative writing is to write creatively? Read, and read everyone, but write, and write, too. I don’t know any better way to have fun or to get better as a writer.
Rodney Gomez is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and the proud son of migrant farmworkers. His first full-length collection, Citizens of the Mausoleum, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications. His chapbooks include Mouth Filled with Night (Northwestern University Press), Spine (Newfound), and A Short Tablature of Loss (Seven Kitchens Press). His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Rattle, Blackbird, Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, and other journals. His honors include the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, the RHINO Editors’ Prize, the Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and the Rane Arroyo Prize.
three poems in Blackbird
“Drag Racer” in RHINO