Five Questions with Stevie Edwards

stevie-edwardsSophie 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.

Stevie Edwards is the author of two poetry collections: Good Grief (Write Bloody 2012) and Humanly (Small Doggies 2015), the former of which received the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry and the Devil's Kitchen Reading Award from SIU-Carbondale. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Muzzle Magazine and Senior Editor in Book Development at YesYes Books. She holds an MFA in poetry from Cornell University and is a PhD candidate in the creative writing program at University of North Texas. Her writing has appeared in Verse Daily, Rattle, Indiana Review, The Journal, The Offing, Ploughshares Blog, Superstition Review, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She is currently working on her third book of poetry, tentatively titled Lush.