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Amy MacLennan: Poet Interview

Please join me in welcoming poet Amy MacLennan to the Poetic Asides blog!

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan’s first full-length collection The Body, A Tree was published earlier this year by MoonPath Press. Her work has been published in Cimarron Review, Cloudbank, Connotation Press, Folio, Hayden's Ferry Review, Linebreak, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pirene's Fountain, Poet's Market, Rattle, River Styx, South Dakota Review, Spillway, The Pedestal Magazine, Windfall, and Wisconsin Review.

Amy is the Editor of Cascadia Review and the Managing Editor of The Cortland Review. She has published two chapbooks: Weathering (Uttered Chaos Press, 2012), and The Fragile Day (Spire Press, 2011). Her work was recently featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Here's a poem I published in the 2015 Poet's Market:

Lusting, by Amy MacLennan

It starts with your walk
across the plaza, your orange fleece coat
a dull glow in the day gone dusk.
It ends with your arms around me,
your handprints almost marking my clothes,
staining my back.

It starts with the glass of wine
that turns into three, cabernet
that makes me thirst and thirst.
It ends with the taste in my mouth,
how I remember yours
bright with wine still on your tongue.

It starts with your eyes, the old cliche,
but your hands don't sparkle,
they crackle, they smoke, small bonfires.
It ends with an itch, thistleburr tingle
in my thighs, how I shift in my chair,
how my skirt inches up.

It starts with your face near mine,
your nose just grazing my cheek,
your breath an impossible touch.
It ends with our walk to the car,
the way we say nothing, the drive to your bed,
how I know, hours from now, sheets will settle on our skin.


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What are you currently up to?

My big day off finds me hiking these days. I joined a group that does a wide range of hikes in southern Oregon and northern California, and it has been amazing. We do anything from local excursions in the Ashland Watershed to the "big ups" on Mt. McLoughlin. It's a fun gathering of people who aren't afraid of getting messy.

The Body, A Tree is your first full-length collection. How did you go about getting it published?

I submitted a chapbook manuscript to Lana Hechtman Ayers several years ago, and I received the kindest, most generous rejection EVER. She gave me positive feedback along with specifics on what wasn't working in that collection. About a year later, she encouraged me to submit a full-length collection to MoonPath Press for consideration. I took all of her notes to heart, and I completely reorganized my work with new poems to "anchor" sections of that collection. She accepted it, and I was so grateful for her encouragement and guidance.

The Body, A Tree, by Amy MacLennan

The Body, A Tree, by Amy MacLennan

Any surprises about the book publication process?

I was wonderfully stunned at how much care was taken with The Body, A Tree. My publisher put so much time and effort into the cover, design, layout, order of poems, and most importantly, the title. It was the title that drove the cover image (huge thanks to Beverly Ash Gilbert for her gorgeous work), and Lana suggested it as it was the lead poem of the collection. With my chapbooks, I'm incredibly grateful for the same suggestions from those dedicated publishers, Uttered Chaos in Eugene, Oregon, and Spire Press in New York. I was blessed with terrific cover art and beautiful books.

What have you done to promote the book?

I've done and planned several readings and book fairs in Oregon, Washington, and California over the period of about a year. I've also had requests for reviews that should appear later this year. I'm excited and nervous (with a little bit of terror?) about them all at the same time.

You’ve previously published two chapbooks and have placed poems in several publications. Do you have a submission routine?

I used to send everywhere, but I'm more targeted these days. I'm a complete sucker for themed magazines and anthologies, and I'm always on the lookout for the best match for my work. Over the years, I've become more and more selective with the placement of my work.

You’re on the board of Chautauqua Poets & Writers in Ashland, OR. What’s involved with your role there?

I'm the one who posts on social media for the organization. I also assist with local marketing and promotion. It's a volunteer group that has brought the best national poets and prose writers to the Rogue Valley. I'm happy CPW puts up with me.

Who (or what) are you currently reading?

I'm reading and/or re-reading Bright Dead Things, by Ada Limon; Dementia, My Darling, by Brendan Constantine; Glass Factory, by Marilyn McCabe; Hum, by Jamaal May; Lost Sheep, by Kurt Brown; and Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, by Sandra Beasley.

If you could pass along only one piece of advice to other poets, what would it be?

Do. Not. Take. Rejections. Personally.


Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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