Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Habitual Poet: Andrea Potos

Installment #15

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The Habitual Poet is an ongoing series of contributor interviews. If you are a Poemeleon contributor and would like to participate copy & paste the Q's from below and e-mail your answers to:

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Q: Where do you prefer to get your books?

At local bookstores, preferably an independent bookstore or good used

Q: How many poetry books do you think you own, and what percentage of these have you actually read?

I must have anywhere from 350-500, and I have read SOME of all of them.

Q: When, where and how do you usually read? (i.e. at bedtime under the covers, cover to cover, etc.)

Anytime I can! By the lake, on my "fainting couch" in my room. . .

Q: What books of poetry have you read this month?

The Mind-Body Problem by Katha Pollitt, Open Heart by Stanley Plumly,Quiver by Sarah Busse, School of the Arts by Mark Doty.

Q: What other books/magazines/backs of cereal boxes have you read recently?

Novels and memoirs: The Help, Persepolis 1 and 2, Heaven's Coast, Unconditional Life (Chopra); and am now reading Angela's Ashes.

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Q: When, where, how do you write, and why?(i.e. at dusk on a dock, longhand in a notebook, because...)

Mornings, in cafes or outside by the lake, or in my 3rd floor garrett. Always in longhand first!

Q: How many first drafts do you think you complete in a week? A month?

1-3 per week.

Q: How long do you wait before revising a poem?

I hardly wait at all! I'm too eager to finish and get on to the next poem!

Q: When do you know a poem is “done”?

When it feels the "rightest."

Q: Have you ever given up an invitation so you could stay home and write?


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Q: What is your system for sending out work?

I try to send out work 4-5 times per month.

Q: What have you more recently received: a rejection notice or an acceptance? Was it what you expected?

Recently, I've received nothing at all! Where are all these responses???

Q: Where do you generally publish: online, in print, or a mix, and do you have a preference?

A mix; I am starting to really like online publishing, because the poems are seeming to reach a wider audience than they would otherwise.

Q: What is the worst (or weirdest, or best) experience you’ve had with a journal/magazine/press & its editor(s)? (No names, please!)

Long ago, in my early writing days, one contest judge wrote this on my poem: "This poem starts out promising and goes nowhere fast. . . " What a meanie!

Q: Have you ever received any fan (or hate) mail? If so, what was that like?

Yes, fan mail, particularly for my book "Yaya's Cloth." No hate mail yet!!

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Practical considerations:

Q: What is your day job, and how does it affect your writing?

I am fortunate to work part-time at local bookstore, and also as an editorial member for a small press. For that, I read manuscripts on my own
time, at home or wherever. So, I am usuallly able to carve out that morning writing time, particularly when my daughter (now 12) is at school.

Q: How does your significant other’s occupation affect your writing life?

In that it makes it possible for me to work part-time, I guess it helps a lot. Also, my husband is a scientist and a very interesting
person to exchange ideas with.

Q: Have there been periods in your life when you couldn't write?

No. William Stafford would say (I like to remember this), if you can't write, it must mean your standards are too high!

Q: Do you have a “poetry budget”?


Q: Have you ever suffered (or made someone else suffer) in the name of your art? (i.e. picked up your kids late from school so you could finish a poem, forgone lunch to buy a book, left a relationship because the other person just didn't understand, etc.)

Not that I'm aware of!

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Random nonsense:

Q: Do you have any superhuman abilities? (i.e. can you tie a cherry stem in a knot with your tongue, or write a double sestina with both hands tied behind your back?)

I can remember what underwear I wore on June 13,

Q: You write a scathing poem about your mother and she learns about it. You:

a.) Move to South America and leave no forwarding address
b.) Delete the poem and insist it never existed
c.) Show it to her (she’s already written you out of the will anyway)
d.) Do none of the above; instead you: _____

say a mantra and use it as a chance to talk to her.

Q: If the best medical specialists in the world told you that if you didn’t give up your poetry habit today you would die in six months, would you get your affairs in order or would you leave that up to your family?

Probably both.

Q: If you could be a vowel, which one would you be and why?

A-- I like the crisp, versatile, friendliness of this vowel. . . .

Q: Finally write a couplet for a collaborative ghazal using the following kaafiyaa and radif: “said the poet”.

(To be filled in at a later date -- check back soon!)


I am the author of the poetry collections Yaya's Cloth (Iris Press) which won at Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association, and also The Perfect Day (Parallel Press). My poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Poetry East, Calyx Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Women's Review of Books, Claiming the Spirit Within (Beacon Press), Beloved on the Earth (Holy Cow! Press) and many others. I have a great love for English authors and have a book-length manuscript of poems exploring the lives of the Bronte sisters. I am also working on a chapbook about John Keats. I live in Madison with my husband and daughter.

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