THINGS WE’RE DYING TO KNOW…
Let’s start with the book’s title and your cover image. How did you choose each? And, if I asked you to describe or sum up your chapbook, what three words immediately come to mind?
First, I’d like to quickly explain the chapbook. Think Like a B is a chapbook of erasure poems from Donald Trump’s book, Think Like a Billionaire. I scanned individual pages from the book and used photo-editing software to "erase" most of the words and create my poems.
I liked the idea of a title that was essentially an erasure itself. “B” could mean a lot of things.
The cover was created by my bff, Jeremiah Xavier Avila (www.xavila.com). The approach was really Jeremiah’s, but I think it's perfect. My favorite part about it is that my words are reaching his ear.
Three words to sum up the chapbook: self-important, rude, and creepy.
What were you trying to achieve with your book? Tell us about the world you were trying to create, and who lives in it.
I was curious to know what Trump’s advice for a fruitful life would be. I wanted to get inside his words, rip them open, and make something from the carcass. There's truth in the carcass.
Can you describe your writing practice or process for this collection? Do you have a favorite revision strategy?
I love this process.
I write erasure poems within very short chunks of time; it's like there’s a little bit of magic there, and phrases pop out at me, then it fizzles out within 10 minutes and all I can see is the words on the page in their proper order. Usually, a poem either comes together within 10 minutes, or it never comes together.
I sit down with the book and skim pages until I see a good word or sequence of words. I scan for other words and phrases on that page, and write them down in order. I work with all the possibilities of that page. My ideal is to create some kind of narrative, if possible, which is dramatically different from the meaning of the original text, but also responds to it.
With erasures, the absolute worst is when you find two really great sequences of words, but you can’t use both because of the order in which the individual words appear on the page. It’s aggravating. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like … 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. Or maybe it’s like a romantic comedy. Anyway, these are the poems that take more than 10 minutes. I have difficult decisions to make because everyone’s boyfriend material and I really want the knife but I can’t have it all.
How did you order the poems in the collection? Do you have a specific method for arranging your poems or is it sort of haphazard, like you lay the pages out on the floor and see what order you pick them back up in?
I printed the poems out and shuffled them around many times. I was hoping to help the reader be ready for each poem right at the time it appeared. I feel like certain poems build an appetite and others satisfy it, but too much of the latter results in getting a little bloated. There’s a rhythm, I think. I tried to read my poems in order and pretend I hadn’t written them, and kept shuffling and re-reading until I thought, “Ahh, yes,” wiped my face with my napkin, and walked away from the table.
What do you love to find in a poem you read, or love to craft into a poem you’re writing?
I love when a poet expresses not knowing but, in the process, shows that they do have a deep understanding of something. I love when humility and wisdom intersect.
Can you share an excerpt from your book? And tell us why you chose this poem for us to read – did it galvanize the writing of the rest of the collection? Is it your book’s heart? Is it the first or last poem you wrote for the book?
This poem is a core value disguised as a complaint disguised as a piece of advice/wisdom. It’s a demented proverb. This is definitely at the heart of the book.
If you had to convince someone walking by you in the park to read your book right then and there, what would you say?
I would say that I have extracted and distilled all of Donald Trump’s wisdom into 13 pages.
For you, what is it to be a poet? What scares you most about being a writer? Gives you the most pleasure?
I'll start with what scares me: hooking a poem then losing it because I reeled it up too slowly or too quickly, or a seal ate it, or I never had it to begin with. Being a poet is working toward being OK with seals, and delusion, and loss, and failure.
What book are you reading that we should also be reading?
Think Like a Billionaire, obviously. I’d lend you my copy, but I tore a lot of the pages out.
Without stopping to think, write a list of five poets whose work you would tattoo on your body, or at least write in permanent marker on your clothing, to take with you at all times.
Rumi, Robert Hass, Lorca, and tons of up-and-coming and experimental poets published by small presses and lit mags!
I cheated; sorry.
Think Like a B in PDF version is free online.
If you like physical objects, Sara Adams would love to send you a stapled booklet hard copy for $3 (including shipping). Contact her through her website, Www.kartoshkaaaaa.com, to arrange PayPal, venmo, or something!
$2 extra for each additional copy in same shipment! You can never get enough Trump!
($3 for initial shipment applies to U.S. Lower 48 only, but we can work something out if you're international/AK/HI!).
Sara Adams is a Montessori teacher in Portland, Oregon. Think Like a B is her first chapbook. She has two others forthcoming in 2016--Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press) and Western Diseases (Dancing Girl Press). Her work appears in lit mags such as DIAGRAM, tNY Press’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature, and Shampoo Poetry. Sara also co-wrote a full-length New Translation of Twilight, available at www.fredwardbound.com. Visit her online at www.kartoshkaaaaa.com.
Nicole Rollender is a poet, editor and seeker.