Contributor Q+A with Emma Bolden

Headshot-2020-1Emma Bolden’s poems “At the End of the Day’s Just a Nightand “How a Body Lies appeared in Issue 16 of Sundog Lit. Emma is the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). She is also the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, and her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly and as an editor for the Screen Door Review.

Tell us a little about your writing process (from the first word to the last edit).
My poems usually begin when I get a bit of language snagged in my brain and find myself circling it again and again. My drafts are an absolute mess, I admit. I tend to draft by hand, and I don’t really pay attention to line breaks as I write (though I jot down the occasional backslash). Lately, I’ve been typing poems into an app on my phone as I walk. When I get the language to the point where it feels solid, I move to the computer and start laying it out – and then I polish it again and again. And again, until it feels complete. Admittedly, I’m always slipping in one more edit after I’ve made what I thought was the last edit.

What is something you’re fascinated with at the moment?
I’ve been completely obsessed with the Netflix show Dark lately, probably to the point where I’m driving my friends crazy. I’ve also been fascinated with early experiments with/theories of light.

Describe the last thing you read in five words.
Medieval falconry was surprisingly intense.

Is there a place that has inspired your writing? If so, where is it and what about it made for good material?
It isn’t a place, necessarily, except in the sense that it’s the place where whatever we are lives, but most of my poems are rooted in the body. And no matter how many times I tried to move away, both mentally and physically, my body has always been stubbornly rooted in the Deep South, so a lot of my poems live in the connection between that abstract place and that physical place. I feel the Deep South as a physical force – spend an August day in Alabama and you’ll know what I mean – and as a political/cultural/religious force that often impacts the body, and that makes for a constant source of material.

Coffee, tea, or neither?
Diet Coke, tbh.

Physical books or e-books?
Physical books – I tried very hard to love e-books, but they just don’t work the same way for me.

What are you working on now?
I’ve found it terribly difficult to write poetry during the pandemic, but I’m slowly working my way back to a book about the South. I’m also working on a secret prose project.

Any recommendations for readers, i.e. books, movies, television, art, anything under the sun?
Predictably: Dark on Netflix! There’s nothing more calming than Animal Crossing. Over the past year, I’ve found myself returning to Agnes Obel’s music on a daily basis. Her work does the same thing to my brain that very good poetry does.

Keep up with Emma by checking out her website and by following her on Twitter: @emmabo. You can also read the latest issue of Sundog Lit by clicking here. Until next time!