Our first interview for this go-around is with Rachel Nix, who was so kind as to give us two poems: “Kathryn,” which won the contest, and “Acreage.” It’s always nice to get submissions from fellow Southerners (even though I’m really just a carpetbagger), especially gracious Alabamians like Rachel.
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
I aim to convey the human condition; be it through my own stories or opinions of other things, and hopefully with a little Southern flavor.
Congratulations on winning such a prestigious contest! Is this your first time? How’s it feel?
Thank you! It is my first time and it shocked me, to be honest. It really gave me the nod of approval in wondering if my narrative approach was getting me anywhere. And to win with “Kathryn” is the best part of it all, as that poem is so personal and nostalgic for me.
Tell me about your poems “Kathryn” and “Acreage.”
“Kathryn” was written for a mentor of mine, Kathryn King, who so kindly let me visit her home in the summer of 2012. She’s become a very close friend of mine and I wanted to pay respect to the grace she’s shown me. “Acreage” is my way of paying homage to the wonderful childhood I had. I was surrounded with so much love and happiness growing up that being ‘poor’ was not something I even registered into thought until I was older.
What or who inspires you to write?
As a child I always followed after my grandmother who constantly told me stories and shared the most entertaining perspectives. I think in some way, poetry is my way of emulating her effect on me.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Andrew Glaze, Mary Oliver, Amber Tamblyn, and as of lately, I’ve been catching up on Pamela Gemin’s work. I love writers with sure voices, and reading so much of these writers’ poetry has helped me to find my own.
Do you have a blog/website?
It’s fairly bare right now but I’m working on posting more there soon.
Where can we read you next?
I have two poems slated for publication at Stone Path Review; I believe that’s to happen in the spring.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m just going through scraps from a project I took on with a few friends where we agreed to write every day for the entire year of 2013. I slacked a little, but I have quite a bit that I’m hoping to form new work from.
Any advice for other writers?
Don’t lose your nerve. It’s easy to get battered down with declines and whatnot, but the process of writing and getting your work out there is extremely rewarding. Also, develop a circle of people to help with editing and overall opinions. My work has grown so much in the past year and I attribute that to having eyes other than my own to help me ready my poems. I’d also highly recommend reading the poem “A Letter To David Matzke” from ‘Damned Ugly Children’ by Andrew Glaze; it’s full of bold advice for anyone wanting to say anything.
Do you find there’s any stigma being a writer from the South?
I do; to be honest, the stigma on the South goes far beyond literature, and it’s very unfair. We’re often viewed as ignorant folk who can only be trusted for a proper cornbread recipe. But I welcome the stigma, and am proud to be a writer from North Alabama. I feel like my work shows the charm and warmth we’re afforded down here, and I’d like for everyone to realize they ought to be envious, if anything.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d just like to thank you, Kevin, for giving my poems a home in Bop Dead City.