ABP– Hello Kristin, thank you for taking this interview… One year ago Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of launching ‘The Death of Alice in Wonderland’. What can you tell us about this collection? What was your process like in writing it?
KG- Thank you so much for, one, believing in me in the first place to publish “The Death of Alice in Wonderland” and now for giving me the chance to talk about it. All of my poetry books begin with a single poem that I write that creates a world. I always feel the gravity and breadth of that poem in my bones and how it encapsulates something that is an overarching theme of my work. It gives me a container that fits a lot of poems that obsess on a certain topic; suddenly in this world they belong.
In “The Death of Alice In Wonderland,” I found a way to discuss sex and death (an amalgam I write about a lot) from a womanchildish perspective. I describe myself as a womanchild because though chronologically I’m very much a woman I see the world and experience it from a more adolescent perspective. I feel this has to do a lot with my a childhood that really wasn’t — I experienced a lot of tortures and mistreatments of adulthood way too early. My psyche I think is a little stunted and seeks the comfort of childish things and I am pretty open and unapologetic about that. It feels more me to even look at the macabre from that perspective and writing this Dark Alice poem gave me a world and vocabulary to explore that. I was able to both curate poems that I had already written on this theme that I really hadn’t figured out where they belonged but also to write more pointed at this theme — including many other Dark Alice poems. The latter really spoke to both my love of dark fairytales and bedtime stories.
This whole project allowed me to show a very particular side of myself that is a very pure slice of my dark little heart. Thank you for being a huge part of that!
ABP– Do you have any other books you would like to mention? Are you currently working on anything new?
KG- Thank for asking this as well. I have a brand new book out called “You Don’t Want This.” It’s a short story collection — which was a new genre for me to explore this in-depth. I fell in love with short story writing hardcore. It’s an unusual book in a sense in that some of the stories are true and some are invented, and there are no labels. There are weirdly inspirational naked stories all the way to erotic horror. Many of the stories are set against strip clubs because I was a topless dancer, dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl, for five years. I did this in my Deep South hometown which is a little old fashioned in its views of women and sex work in all of its iterations. It felt very freeing to show the complexities of my brain which has survived a lot and also goes to a lot of different wild places. If there is a theme that connects the stories it would be sex and power— either taking back power through the body and sexuality or the abuse of power dynamics in sexuality. You can order the book at Amazon or at my website kristingarth.com
Also I have a new book out from Really Serious Literature that is a little darker. It’s called “The Stakes,” and it is about fire being used as a tool of misogyny against women in history and contemporary times. It is poetry about women like Joan of Arc and the counterfeiter Catherine Murphy who was the last woman to be burned alive in England — while men who did the same crime were hanged. But it also discusses modern women who were burned alive like Jessica Chambers in Mississippi and Nusrat Rafi in Bangladesh. The book also examines my own point of view as a curator I’d these stories and details from my childhood that made the topic of women burned alive something that was on my radar young. You can order this book at Really Serious Literature or my website kristingarth.com
ABP- Can you share a poem here with us?
She prays to the blackbird that caws on the sill.
She prays to the poppet who smiles in red ink.
She listens for answers and holds herself still.
Something is buzzing about the dripping sink.
It flew from the corner, away from the rest —
the scourge she’s trained herself to disregard
They feast from a meadow in a flowered dress
a souvenir he’s refused to discard.
Closing her eyes, remembering seraphs —
salvation comes often outfitted in wings,
she daydreams of miracles as it drones soft.
Hope makes her settle for terrible things.
Is she a girl or already a ghost
who haunts herself as much as her host?
ABP- What is the art/lit scene like in Pensacola FL?
KG- I feel very ignorant and unable to answer the question in the present tense. One thing I’ve written about is my reclusiveness that came about after years working as a topless dancer in the Deep South. When I took that job I really became a homebody because I felt less safe and judged for many reasons. So I don’t really know what the local scene is like. I will say that when I was in college and a creative writing major, we had a nice scene in Pensacola. I was too ashamed to read any of my work in public even then but I did frequent a writing commune called The Mystic Garage where poetry readings were always going on. I feel like this was a very formative experience for me as a writer.
But in my later years, the Internet, poetry Twitter have been such a salvation taking the place of a local scene. I’ve been very lucky to have found people online who have helped me sort of recreate the experience of a local scene — like my co-founder of Performance Anxiety (an online poetry reading series) Tom Snarsky.
ABP- Who is your favorite writer? What is your favorite book?
KG- It’s hard to say who my favorite writer is but I’m always reading. It’s the best past time. I read a lot of literature and true crime. Most recently, literature wise I’ve read The Violence by Delilah Dawson as well as Monarch by Candice Wuehle, In the true crime arena, I just finished My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache about the Anna Delvey case.
ABP- Can you tell us about Pink Plastic Press?
KG- Pink Plastic Press is the publishing imprint of Pink Plastic House, a tiny journal, my poetry journal that I run and host on my website at kristingarth.com. The press I started as a place to publish anthologies like “Pinkprint” (a collection to highlight curated work from the website) and more recently “The Book of Korinethians” (a collection of writing about the films of Harmony Korine) will be released soon, and I can’t wait to share this coolness with the world.
I also have used the press to publish some of my own work: a tiny handmade poetry
collection called “Barbies With Dirty Faces,” a novel “The Avalon Hayes Mysteries” and now a short story collection “You Don’t Want This.”
ABP- Thanks again for taking part in this feature. If there is anything that we did not cover here that you would like to announce or mention please feel free to do so
KG- Thank you for all you do to highlight and encourage artists.