Five Questions with Stevie Edwards
Sophie Rosenblum: We’re publishing your piece, “Lousy Elegy for Ben Chalmers,” in the next issue of NANO Fiction. This piece addresses a kind of fear of not knowing someone–of missing out. How did you come up with this piece, and what do you hope readers take away from it?
Stevie Edwards: Well, the piece was inspired by working in a cubicle for an unnamed, sort of heartless trade paperback publisher. There was actually someone in the IT department who died (though, his name was not Ben Chalmers), and I found myself making up a narrative in my head about what his death meant to me–which was mostly bullshit because I didn’t actually know anything about the person.. Mostly, the piece came out of feeling both like a small cog in a wheel and also like the greater machine might not be doing good things for the world. I am guessing a lot of us have felt lost in that way.
SR: Do you follow a writing practice or just write when inspiration strikes?
SE: Every few months I try to challenge myself to write every day for thirty days. Then, I spend the rest of the year polishing that material and also writing new work if inspiration hits me.
SR: Your bio tells me you have an MFA from Cornell, but that you currently live in Ann Arbor, MI. How does living in different places change your writing?
SE: Well, I actually moved to Denton, TX in mid-August to complete a PhD in creative writing at the University of North Texas. That said, in the last 1.5 years, I have lived in I have lived in Denton, TX; Ann Arbor, MI;
Lansing, MI; Charleston, SC; and Ithaca, NY. It’s been kind of an isolating and discombobulating process. I can barely remember my zipcode. I think a lot of the writing in my current manuscript deals with feeling unmoored and searching for comfort amid loneliness.
SR: When do you know a piece is ready to send out to journals?
SE: That’s a good question. I guess, it’s mostly a gut feeling about whether or not I think the piece of work is an embarrassment or not. I try to imagine somebody I respect who is very picky (usually a writing mentor) and imagine whether or not I would be willing to share it with them. If the answer is no, I keep working. Although, submitting has taught me that sometimes I am just flat out wrong about my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Many of the pieces I’ve labored the most upon and cared the most about have not been picked up; most of my “good” publications are very close to the first drafts with a little bit of tweaking. I think giving it some time often helps me evaluate whether or not things are publishable but not always.
SR: What can we expect next from Stevie Edwards?
SE: Right now I am revising and sending out my third collection of poetry, tentatively titled, Lush.. I am hopeful that it will be picked up in a timely manner, but you never know until it happens. I also am trying to do more work in genres other than poetry–though, I have no full-length manuscripts in prose as of yet. I also am doing a monthly blog series for Ploughshares, where I interview poet activists.