We had the privilege of publishing Stevie Edwards’ poem “Dear Critic.” Stevie is is a poet, editor, and educator. Her first book, Good Grief, was published by Write Bloody in 2012 and won the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award. She is Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine and Acquisitions Editor at YesYes Books. She lives in a castle in Ithaca, NY. We asked her some questions. Here are her answers.
If a ten-year-old kid came up to you and told you she wanted to be a writer, what would you say to her?
When I was ten I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, a chef, and president, so I’m not really sure if what we want to do when we’re children is a great indicator of what we’ll want to do when we grow up. I think I’d probably just have a conversation with the kid about what she likes about her favorite books and what she likes writing.
When you write, do you consider your audience? If so, how?
I often try to write my poems with a specific person in mind as the reader. I’m not necessarily writing poems about that person, but I will often sit down and think, I’m going to try and write a poem about this thing on my mind that so-and-so would like. I think this exercise helps me to create a feeling of intimacy in the poem and also helps inform the registers of diction, images, and allusions I utilize. It gives me a specific world to be in. I try to avoid thinking about writing for a “general reader” because tastes are so varying. There was a time when I tried to please everyone in my writing and it got very dull for awhile.
How does your poem, “Dear Critic,” represent the type of artist you are?
For me “Dear Critic,” represents a conversation with the inner critic. Many of us say much more horrible things to ourselves than we would ever say to others in similar situations. I try to confront that voice directly in this poem, which I think is why the language is fairly unadorned and blunt. I do write some more frilly things sometimes, but I love a poem that gets right to the guts of things. This poem also comes from a series where I was writing about faulty logic a lot of young (and not so young) women are taught about rape— such as that to not fight or get in a violent physical altercation is to “want it.” I’ve become really interesting in writing about want, about both what it actually looks like and what it doesn’t.
Who do you think we should be reading right now, and why?
Rachel McKibbens is my poetry fairy-witch-mother. Her books Pink Elephant and Into the Dark & Emptying Field changed what I thought poetry could do. Her work has helped me write braver and with more teeth showing. I would also add Dorothy Allison, Jan Beatty, Rachel Zucker, and Patricia Smith to that list of writers who get their snarl on good sometimes.
Tell us something about you we might be surprised to hear.
I don’t know how to drive a car.