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10 Questions for Sally Rosen Kindred

The angel of the black bowl sets it on the table.
The girl sits down. She will not eat.

She wears a dress the color of her mother’s hunger.
She does not believe in breakfast, dreams
the eggs’ songs dead in their shells. 

—from “Morning,” by Sally Rosen Kindred, in Volume 59, Issue 3, Fall 2018


Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
“An Attic of Haunts,” a moody, wet washcloth of a poem, got the attention of my fourth-grade teacher, who sent me, draft in hand, to the school’s visiting poet. He was running late, so I spent the hour with another young writer, also waiting. She became—and remains—one of my closest friends.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
I read Theodore Roethke and Sylvia Plath—The Lost Son and Ariel, which were on a shelf in my childhood home—before I knew what Confessionalism was, and their poems swallowed me up. I return often to Emily Dickinson, Lucille Clifton, and Elizabeth Bishop. Also Gerald Stern, Louise Glück, and Larry Levis.

What did you want to be when you were young?
When I was small, a poet and a school librarian (who not only kept the books, but read them aloud, doing all the voices). During adolescence, I experienced a brief rush of extroversion (hormones?) and imagined being a journalist or interpreter (I fantasized about fluency, foreign cities—and crepes). By the time I started college, I was all about poems.

What inspired you to write this piece?
I’ve been revisiting moments of adolescence in drafts. I’m interested in the danger I felt at times then, and the sacred rawness at the edges of things. And hunger.

Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
The Carolinas of my childhood loom in my work—the backyards and the woods. I live on the edge of woods now and walk in them most days. There are lots of woods in my poems—sometimes fairytale woods.

Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I like to walk my dog in the woods before I start. When I sit down to write, I like to have a cup of Earl Grey tea, or—eventually—three.

Who typically gets the first read of your work?
My first reader is most often my dear friend Nancy Quick Langer, who’s an essayist with a poet’s eye. I’m lucky to have a few poet friends who see first passes, as does my (computer scientist) husband, who’s been (generously!) reading my poems for nearly thirty years.

If you could work in another art form what would it be?
I wish I could paint—mostly because I love colors, and the idea of working in color instead of words. I love needlecraft too, and paper arts—the tactility of it, the textures.

What are you working on currently?
I’m working on my third full-length manuscript, tentatively titled If a Wolf, which is about family and story, survival and prayer, motherhood and daughterhood. It has lots of hoods in it—woods, and hoods, and wolves.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Diane Seuss’s Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, and Analicia Sotelo’s Virgin. I’m rereading Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis, and Jessica Jacobs’ Pelvis with Distance. They’re all brilliant books. In fiction, I'm reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik—everyone needs a Russian fairy tale now and then.


SALLY ROSEN KINDRED is the author of two poetry books from Mayapple Press, Book of Asters and No Eden.  She has received two Individual Artist Awards in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council, and her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in the Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, and Kenyon Review Online. 

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