10 Questions for Virginia Konchan
- By Edward Clifford
My first real job: barmaid.
I stood: I stared. I poured
cabernet: I dried expensive
wine glasses with a chamois cloth
—from "Psalm," Volume 61, Issue 3 (Fall 2021)
Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
I made my first chapbook when I was five, with colored construction paper and yarn: a short allegorical story called “A Magical Christmas” about a young girl who goes Christmas shopping with her grandmother and who manages to keep the gift she chooses for her a secret until Christmas Day. Then I gave the chapbook to my grandmother for Christmas, a nested narrative. There were many plot points that didn’t cohere, but she loved it. That experience enabled me to internalize a reader.
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
I have a difficult time differentiating my literary influences from other influences (environmental, ideological, relational), but writers and works who influenced my current poetry collection Hallelujah Time and new manuscript in progress include Lucie Brock-Broido, Natalie Shapero, Franco Berardi, Rachel Cusk, Anne Carson, Clarice Lispector, Amina Cain, Byung Chul-Han, and Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
What other professions have you worked in?
Food service (waitress and bartender), health and wellness (yoga teaching), advertising, journalism, freelance editing, literary publishing, and academia.
What did you want to be when you were young?
A supermarket cashier. I was obsessed with my toy cash register, transactions involving physical currencies, and the staccato rhythms and sounds of commercial exchange. My first cashier job was at Giant Eagle in Westlake, Ohio, when I was 16.
What inspired you to write this piece?
“Psalm” was inspired by my religious and secular job histories. “Pretty Good Year” is a lyric response to Tori Amos’ song “Pretty Good Year,” from her 1994 album Under the Pink, imagining a speaker who dramatizes neoliberal subjectivity.
Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
Heaven and hell.
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
If I can afford the time, reading, meditation, and yoga. Otherwise it’s strong coffee, Dinacharya (daily Ayurvedic ritual), incense, and collecting my notes and scraps.
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
Modern dance or painting (figurative and abstract).
What are you working on currently?
My fourth poetry collection and a memoir.
What are you reading right now?
Media theory, hybrid memoirs, and several wonderful new poetry collections: Jenny Boychuk’s Antonyms for Daughter, Daniel Tiffany’s Cry Baby Mystic, Catherine Pond’s Fieldglass, Kaveh Akbar’s Pilgrim Bell, and Devon Walker-Figueroa’s Philomath.
VIRGINIA KONCHAN is the author of three poetry collections, Hallelujah Time (Véhicule Press, 2021), Any God Will Do, and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2020 and 2018); a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017); and four chapbooks, as well as coeditor (with Sarah Giragosian) of Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems (University of Akron Press, 2022).