Please join me in welcoming Deborah Hauser to the Poetic Asides blog.
Deborah Hauser is the author of Ennui: From the Diagnostic and Statistical Field Guide of Feminine Disorders (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She graduated from Stony Brook University with a Masters in English Literature and has taught at Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Dogwood, Dash, The Found Poetry Review, Long Island Quarterly, Poetrybay, 2 Bridges Review, The Long Islander, The Pedestal Magazine, Oberon, Orbis, Mobius, Stony Brook University Press Literary Supplement, and Stony Brook University Press Women’s Studies Department Literary Journal. Her poems are anthologized in various collections, including It’s Animal but Merciful, -gape-seed-, hell strung and crooked, Whispers and Shouts, Long Island Sounds, Brownstone Poets, and Toward Forgiveness. She received third prize in the Farmingdale Poetry and Suffolk County Community College Literary Journal contests and received honorable mentions or was a finalist in the following contests: Nassau County Poet Laureate Society, Goodreads, Great Neck Plaza, Crab Creek Review, and Science Fiction Poetry Association. Learn more at http://deborahhauser.com.
Hauser's chapbook Ennui is a long poem that looks at the word and the condition. Here's an excerpt:
damp wood that won't spark
as lifeless as a warm flat glass of diet ginger ale used to treat nausea
beneath heavy furniture
that requires constant dust-
ing polishing cleaning
What are you currently up to?
I’m simultaneously working on two projects for full length poetry collections. One is a collection of modern fairy tales with a recurring riot grrrl theme titled (dis)Enchanted: A Grrrls’ Guide to Surviving Happily Ever After. The other is a collection of longer Enuui style poems tentatively titled Asking For It.
Your chapbook Ennui is essentially a long poem that looks at the condition of a bored housewife. What sparked this poem/chapbook?
I was taking a workshop at NYU SCPS with Erica Wright, and she gave me a writing assignment to write a poem that defined a word and provided Les Murray’s poem "The Quality of Sprawl" as an example. After several false starts, I hit on the word “ennui” and the first draft just poured out of me. “Ennui” is a word that had been stuck in my mind since reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I have vivid memories of writing the first draft while riding the train to New York City.
In this chapbook, the sections are clinical and—at times—hilarious; most sections also take up less than half of each page. What are your thoughts on using white space as a poetic device?
In Ennui I think of the white space as the reader’s space. Placing each short section on its own page surrounded by blank space makes room for the reader to enter the poem. Ennui would be a rather long poem if presented without the section breaks. I think the breaks serve to set the pace and encourage the reader to contemplate each section as its own poem before turning the page. It signals the reader that each section is an important statement on its own as well as an integral part of the whole poem.
Your poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Crab Creek Review and The Pedestal Magazine. Do you have a submission routine?
In theory, I have my current “best” poems in circulation at all times. I keep a list of places I’d like to submit to and send out submissions weekly or monthly.
In current practice, I scramble to get a submission out in response to some deadline.
The 2013 Poet's Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, is filled with listings for poetry publications, chapbook publishers, book publishers, contests, grants, and more. Plus, the book offers articles on the craft of poetry, the business of poetry, the promotion of poetry, and actual poems by contemporary poets.
Also, do you have a writing routine?
In theory, I free write for 10 minutes every day, just as an exercise with no expectation of producing a poem. Usually once a week a free write does develop into a poem. I did this regularly for several years.
In current practice, I write in response to a workshop prompt or when “lightning strikes” and something moves me to put paper to pen (or more likely fingers to keyboard). I also write in response to what I’m reading. After reading a collection of poetry, I’ll write an imitation or tribute poem in the style of the author or put together a found poem using some of my favorite lines from the collection.
Do you have any poetry pet peeves when reading poetry? Are there things you try to avoid in your own poems?
When reading poetry, I’m aware of the weaknesses I’ve worked to overcome in my own writing. For example, weak line breaks are something I’m always on the lookout for in my own work, so I’m hyperaware of that when reading poetry.
Your best poetry experience to date. What is it and why?
Being invited to read at NYU SCPS’ 75th Anniversary event in April 2010. It was a magical evening. I read poems from (dis)Enchanted and felt like Cinderella at the ball. It was an honor to read in that hallowed space in the company of distinguished faculty and fellow students. At the reception after the reading, I met many talented writers and made some special friends with whom I’m still in contact.
Who (or what) are you currently reading?
In general I’m always reading poetry journals, a book of poetry, a novel, feminist theory, and literary criticism. Currently, I’m reading The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom, The Immoralist by Andre Gide, and the latest issue of American Poetry Review. I recently read Sharon Olds, Marie Howe, and Alex Dimitrov. Allison Benis White’s new book is next on my reading list. I go to a lot of poetry readings in New York City. What I’m reading is often inspired by who I’m going to see or have recently seen give a reading. I get together with a friend once a month to read and discuss a book of poetry, and I’ve belonged to a fiction book club for seven years.
If you could share only one piece of advice for other poets, what would it be?
Find your poetry doppelgänger; a special person that you trust to be your first reader. Someone who understands your poetry spirit, is supportive and encouraging, believes in you, and is also capable of giving you an honest critique.
Here are a few more links related to Deborah:
- Follow her on Twitter @DeborahHauser2
- Thursday Afternoon in the Department of Risk Management on Work Literary Magazine.
- Versions on Poetry Bay.
- Rapture: On Reading Lisa Russ Spar on The Pedestal Magazine.
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