Interview: Catie Rosemurgy

Interviewed by Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

Catie Rosemurgy’s most recent book of poetry, The Stranger Manual, was published by Graywolf Press in 2010. She teaches at The College of New Jersey and lives in Philadelphia.

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Q: What kind of child were you?

A: This is from my mom…We are having coffee together at her house in Fort Myers and looking at recipes: “When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid.

Q. Some of the poems in your first collection, My Favorite Apocalypse, focus on youthful obsessions with rock stars, if you were a teen today who do you think you’d be fixated on?

A: Mick Jagger. Circa 1972. The same one I was obsessed with in the 1980’s. He is* the perfect Teenager Emergency Toolkit and provides everything you could possibly need. *Rock stars circa 1972 are like poems and must be written about in the present tense because they are always happening.

Q. The poems in your most recent book The Stranger Manual put the narrator, Miss Peach, in many interesting  situations from explaining promiscuity to a toddler to going on a date with a werewolf. Is there anything you considered having her do that you later decided against?

A: Oh yeah, at first I couldn’t help indulging. But it wore thin. I called it Miss-Peach-and-the-Temple-of-Dooming. Unexpectedness and irony have become tricky business in poetry, since they are so expected.

Q. Who would you rather have as a co-worker, Marianne Moore or Mary Tyler Moore?

A: Marianne Moore.

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Q: What is your relationship with rejection like?

A: It’s surprisingly varied, like with wasp bites. Sometimes there’s almost a high, invulnerable feeling that comes as the initial sting fades, but sometimes it’s ugly and huge and aches for days.

Q: The writer—dead or alive—you’d most like to bury in the literary basement.

A: Oooooo. An easy one. Jonathan Franzen.

Q. What poem do you think gets more attention than it should?

A: Gadzooks. Are there poems that get attention?

Q: Name a writer who is currently making you jealous.

A: E.L. James

Q. What three poems do you think all poets should keep under their pillows at night?

A: I don’t think I could write a universal prescription, but a reliable mix would be something old, something new, and something blue.

Q: What is the question you wish people would ask about your work?

A: Would you agree that your poems annotate and deepen particle physics?

Jennifer Schomburg Kanke is a doctoral candidate at Florida State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Fugue, The Tampa Review, WomenArts Quarterly and Earth’s Daughters. Previously, she served as an editor at Quarter After Eight and is currently the Poetry Editor for The Southeast Review.