Carrie Bennett, author of Biography of Water, which won the 2004 Washington Prize, was kind enough to answer my stupid questions in an email interview that transpired after her reading at Prairie Lights on Wednesday, April 27th. So here they are, questions and answers almost unedited.
ME: How did you feel upon your triumphant return to I.C.?
Carrie: it was ok. but actually different than i thought--probably because it was so out of context for me. lots of people i didn't know, etc. plus, the fox head is a bit depressing now i think. (now?--ed.) but i still loved walking around in the beautiful neighborhoods--very peaceful, very green.
ME: How much of your book was written while you were in the program here?
Carrie: almost all of it. actually, i think i finished it before i left and then just revised it, made minor touch-ups over the summer before i started to send it out.
ME: Now that you have the luxury of perfect retrovision, what do you consider the most valuable aspect of your stint in the workshop?
Carrie: working with Claudia and Cole. having the time to actually write and think about my poetry for hours and hours. not being stressed out with tons of papers to always grade. but really getting to work with the two ladies and getting to write lots.
ME: How would you describe your book to your grandmother?
Carrie: i have no idea, i don't talk to my grandma. but i'd still tell her if i did get the chance basically what i said for the reading. it's about the fragility of the human form--human's inability to ever fully connect with another person.
ME: If you could have any actress play you in a miniseries, who would it be?
Carrie: oh my god, i have no idea. (for my money, I think a young Mia Farrow would fit the bill nicely.--ed.)
ME: Who do you see as your poetic foremothers?
Carrie: fanny howe, lorine niedecker, gertrude stein
ME: What was the hardest thing about writing your book?
Carrie: ordering it once it was finished. thinking about it as an actual book instead of individual poems.
ME: What have you been reading lately?
Carrie: _dead souls_ by gogol. and jhumpa lahiri's first book of short stories.
ME: When did you realize that you wanted to be a poet? What else did you want to be?
Carrie: freshman year of undergrad. my freshman comp teacher was a poet and she said i was a good writer and gave me her poet's market to look through. i started writing poems seriously then. other professions i wanted to be--my major at the time was music therapy. and before i wanted to be a vet.
ME: If you could change one thing about the world of poetry, what would it be?
Carrie: that poets could actually make some type of livelihood with their writing.
ME: What is your favorite word?
ME: What are you going to do now that poetry has made you rich and famous?
Carrie: keep writing. try and do it all over again.