April 28, 2010

iScribe Interview Special - Poet-at-Law

Name: Kate Stone
Major(s): English/Writing & Rhetoric
Year of Graduation: December 2009
Position: Featured writer (Spring 2010)
Click here to read about Kate's time as Editor-in-Chief

What is so intriguing about your poetry is that you encompass so many topics, from serious academic conversations to portraits of modern young womanhood that would make Carrie Bradshaw proud. Your body of work shows that you are indeed a complex person with a wide range of interests. Do you prefer to keep those interests separate in your work, or do you find that there is a relationship between the two?

I like for those interests to mingle as much as possible. I want my poetry to everything: To back pack across Europe with a rosary and a porcelain tea cup; flirt with all the boys; set off bottle rockets at midnight; sip bourbon and talk dirty at noon; wear five inch stilettos and a cowboy hat; collect Canivale masks; and order a bacon double cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake when everyone else is having salad... to name a few.

I think the relationships between the various topics in my work naturally find one another. I just can't seem to keep Virgina Woolf or D.H. Lawrence out of my life, especially because poetry can act as an evaluative tool in our lives, whether we intend for it to or not. I write about what I do, what I know, and apply the lessons I've picked up along the way. The result is personal verse, with other writers' voices, opinions, lives woven in.

I love how this question is written. The first two words of the second sentence, "Your body," following a statement about how my writing functions is fabulously intuitive. My body is just as involved in my poetic process as my mind: My body needs to feel it. If I'm writing and sitting still, something's not right; if I hit five lines that I just can't help but move my hips to, I know I'm really on to something. If nothing else, my poems need to dance. Preferably on tables and platforms.

We've missed having you at the Scribe, but were thrilled to receive your submissions. How have you been keeping busy this semester? What lies ahead after the summer?

I had the pleasure of heading down to Louisville, Kentucky in early March for the Conference of College Composition and Communication, where I chaired a panel and attended some really fascinating presentations. In addition to all things professional and academic, I also had the opportunity to let my hair down and really experience Kentucky: I rode a mechanical bull (and would every day for the rest of my life if I could!), became a Maker's Mark fanatic, ate my weight in Hot Browns and buzzed all the way home on my Sweet Tea-induced caffeine high. If you ever have a chance to get down there, I strongly suggest stopping by Fourth Street Live: Any tourist-ridden, architecturally-hip, outdoor collection of bars serving until 4AM in the bible belt complete with bouncers in cowboy boots is worth a visit in my book.

In addition to the occasional trip, I've been working as a model this spring and like the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new business. I'm particularly enjoying the experience because I get the opportunity to embody the larger-than-life persona(s) I construct in my poetry in front of the camera; similarly to how I do so in my poems, the modeling enables me to be an -est version of myself and that's a feeling everyone loves every now and again. By this I mean I get to unleash the extremes of my personality, run with them, and I believe its in these parts of ourselves we find the truly interesting, whether that be fierce writing or great photographs or a fabulous new recipe for cupcakes. Sometimes you need to let the leash off for a while, trash around, be larger than life and find something fantastic in the mess you've made.

Law school is on the horizon after summer. I'd be lying if I said I'm not wary of the undeniably daunting years that are ahead, but I'm far more energized by the thought than I am concerned. I hear 1L is brutal; I'm ready to find something fantastic in that.

One of the pieces we have the honor of featuring this semester was previously published in Chronogram magazine. How does the real-world submission process compare to the Scribe? Was your previous experience with the Scribe helpful in preparing you to send your work elsewhere?

Submitting to The Independent Scribe is very much like submitting to publications outside of the URI community, with one exception: iScribe is particularly good about providing writers with feedback. Working on an editorial board provided me with tons of insight with regard to what editors look for; the experience is invaluable when it comes to submission preparation. At the end of the day though, submitting to anyone only takes a handful of characteristics: Solid writing you believe in, sincere professionalism, and nerve.

Is there one topic you are dying to sink your teeth into? Is there one you would never dare touch?

I'd estimate that approximately 80% of my poetry is inspired by people, including a number of pieces featured in The Independent Scribe. It's always the quiet ones I end up penning; I want to crack into their heads, know what they're thinking in all that silence. I imagine it must be something important, something scandalous, naughty, private, of national importance. Eventually I get impatient and fill the silence with poems. These pieces usually evolved into something larger than just a meditation about the individual, but may begin in this manner. No, I don't usually tell people which poem they prompted and yes, you've probably prompted one or two.

I'm also dying to write a poem about the Pine Barrens back home in New Jersey. I drive through them every time I go to the shore since I was a kid, but I've never tackled them for some reason. I love all the charred bark and silky paper Birch trees. I've a few lines jotted down in my phone, but nothing major yet.

The topics I'm hesitant to tackle today may be the one's I'm all over tomorrow. For the most part, I see my writing as a testament to my belief in writing what "you're not supposed to," or what other's won't dare to touch. If we don't tackle those topics in poetry, where will we ever open them up?

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