Millicent Bórges Accardi, Interviews Editor
Reviews have made me a better writer, one who is more articulate about her own practice. Poetry is a conversation, and your book is just the beginning.
The author of over twenty books, including Melancholia (An Essay), Petrarchan and a hybrid genre collection called Fortress, as well as a collaboration poetry book with Carol Guess about bridal registries called X Marks the Dress, Kristina Marie Darling is one of the most prolific writers in the 21st century.
Millicent Bórges Accardi: Erin Elizabeth Smith (director of Sundress Academy in Knoxville) in an Amazon review calls X Marks the Dress, “a narrative of love and identity that unpacks itself again and again. . .Lines and images reappear in new and surprising ways—footnotes, appendices, definitions—that stunningly illustrate exactly how slippery love can be.”
Kristina Marie Darling: My collaborator, Carol Guess, was the mastermind. She had the brilliant idea of structuring the book around the idea of a bridal registry, with each poem named for a domestic object. We wrote the poems in call and response style, with Carol starting us off, and then I responded to her work, and so on. Carol assumed the voice of the husband, and I was the wife. As we worked, the book went in many unexpected directions. For example, the husband realized that he was really a woman. But things didn’t become really wild until we introduced a mistress into the narrative….
KMD: Carol and I were amused when the book hit #1 on the Amazon.com Bestselling New Releases for books about bridal gowns.
KMD: More than anything, I learned a lot about how to structure a narrative. Carol is a gifted poet, but also an experienced fiction writer.
MBA: Can you describe how the collaboration took place? Did you each write your part or did you work on it together? What was the process?
KMD: For the initial sequence, Carol and I each wrote a poem, then the other person responded, until that part of the book felt finished. Then we each contributed one appendix to the work. This was great because we each brought different strengths to the collaboration. Carol’s a gifted flash fiction writer, and I love creating marginalia and fragments. The appendixes allowed us each to showcase some element of craft that we brought to the collaboration. At the very end, we erased each others’ poems. Now that’s trusting your collaborator!
MBA: Why do you write?
KMD: I write from a desire for social justice and inclusion within the academy. Much of my work utilizes academic forms, such as glossaries, footnotes, and appendixes, which I fill with surprising and wildly unexpected content. What’s most surprising about the content that I include in these academic forms of writing is that it’s autobiographical. In my opinion, this shouldn’t be surprising.
MBA: Can you share what you are working on now?
KMD: I’m working on a feminist erasure and excavation of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The work focuses on gender violence, and women who meet violent ends, within his plays. I find it troubling that texts that are so canonical, and so present within the public imagination, are filled with horrific acts of violence against women. In many ways, it’s texts like these that normalize gender violence.
MBA: You have participated in a number of writers residencies. What are some pluses and minuses? At which residency were you most productive?
KMD: Residencies are great for meeting other writers, as well as artists in other disciplines. I would highly recommend residencies to those interested in collaborative writing. I’ve met many life-long friends and collaborators at places like the Vermont Studio Center, Yaddo, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
MBA: What writers are you reading now?
KMD: I can’t wait to get my hands on Donna Stonecipher’s new book, The Model City. And I’m excited to read Dawn Lonsinger’s Whelm. As the great poet Rob Fitterman once said, “I’m STOKED.”
MBA: You are a true marketing wizard. What advice would you give to other poets about promotion and marketing or the Po-Biz?
KMD: If you want to be reviewed, then read the work of reviewers who are currently publishing. And don’t be afraid to reach out to critics whose work you admire. As a reviewer myself, I love hearing from individuals who have read my pieces in Boston Review, Colorado Review, and other journals. And I love free books!
MBA: How important are reviews to poetry books?
KMD: Reviews are very important to my practice as a literary artist. I love being surprised by reviews, especially when a reviewer makes me think about my work in a way I never otherwise would have.
KMD: Poetry brings smart, articulate, and creative people together. That’s a revolution just waiting to happen!
MBA: You offer writing workshops online, most recently a workshop about how to write persuasive Grants applications. Is there a hot tip you can share with PQ readers?
KMD: As part of the workshop, we’ll do an assignment called “Submission Bombing,” in which students will prepare and send applications to fellowship and grant opportunities that are interested in receiving applications specifically from our class. For any more details, you’ll have to formally register. Despite the practical nature of the workshop, I promise we’ll have fun!