If you know chapbooks, you know Kit Frick. As the author of two fantastic poetry chapbooks herself and the Senior Editor for Black Lawrence Press’s chapbook series, she’s probably read more chap manuscripts than anyone else out there, or at least more than any of us here at failbetter. Alongside her poem, “After the Dig,” Kit was kind enough to answer a few of our most burning questions in a brief electronic interview, where she discussed her writing process, her newly-finished YA novel, and yes, of course, chapbooks.
1) What does the writing process look like for you? Do you have a set routine that you like to follow, or do you approach each poem/project in a unique way?
With poetry, I almost always start with a notebook and pencil. A writing teacher told me once that she never wrote in pen because it seemed too permanent, like once it was in ink, it couldn’t be changed. Pencil is erasable. There’s less pressure, however self-imposed and unquantifiable, to get it right on the first draft. My first drafts are always terrible. But that’s okay! Once I have something down, the magic happens in revision. Which I do on the computer, usually in many rounds that involve printing out poems and revising by hand in-between.
2) Your poem “After the Dig” is filled with repetition and a sense of isolation and anxiety that seems to build in each section, which left us with a deliciously creepy afterglow. Is there a particular impression or overall atmosphere you would like to leave with readers of your work?
Thanks! I love that reading. I never think too much about the reader’s potential impression when I write. Which is not to say that I don’t think about having readers. I do want an audience, and I think a poem is a kind of encounter between writer and reader. In this encounter, the writer brings a precise combination of elements to the page, and that’s what I can control. What the reader brings is mysterious, indeterminate. It’s an enigmatic convergence, something that I think can’t quite be quantified by our ideas of traditional literary analysis. But it’s thrilling to think about!
3) So many writers and editors wear both hats simultaneously, yourself included as Chapbook Editor for Black Lawrence Press. How does one part of your writing identity feed into the other, or do you try to keep the two roles distinct from each other? What are you seeing in the chapbook scene that excites you?
They feed into each other in the best way! Through Black Lawrence, I read hundreds of chapbook manuscripts annually in poetry and short fiction. We run two chapbook contests and two month-long open reading periods each year, so let’s just say I read a lot of chaps! I’m constantly exposed to new and exiting writing—more so than I’d ever make time for as a reader, although of course I also read plenty of published books in the genres I write and edit. There’s really no way to keep the two roles distinct, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a better writer for being an avid reader and editor, and vice versa. I’m very lucky that way.
4) Your brief bio mentions that you’re at work on your first YA (Young Adult) novel. Do you have any details about the project you’d be willing to share? What initially attracted you to the YA genre? When can we get our hands on a copy?
It’s true, and actually I need to update my bio, because I finished that YA novel, and in March I was lucky enough to sign with my agent, Erin Harris at Folio/Folio Jr, who now represents my fiction. The book is called See All the Stars, and it’s a contemporary psychological thriller set in the Pennsylvania rust belt. The narrative is non-linear, so the story plays out in alternating chapters between a very high and very low point in the main character’s life. Even though I’m now in my 30s, the emotional landscape of adolescence is still incredibly immediate for me. The deep insecurity, the heightened sense of self-discovery, the incredible heartbreak. It’s terribly satisfying to write—that’s what drew me to YA. The publishing industry is incredibly subjective and unpredictable, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone reading this, but let’s all keep our fingers and toes tightly crossed that you will be able to get your hands on a copy in the future!