A Brief Interview with Cat Richardson

Cat Richardson will be reading at  Difficult to Name on Sat. August 12

Cat Richardson will be reading at Difficult to Name on Sat. August 12

The poem on your website, "Lamps in Every Corner" is such a PERFECT construction. My favorite poetry feels authoritative, definitive in the way that this poem is. I feel like you know exactly what you're doing, choosing each word like you're picking out a knife (sorry if that's a heavy-handed metaphor -- I'm not poet, I just interview them!). Oh yeah, but my question is -- how long will it take you to get a poem in that kind of shape? Does that come out finished like that or do you search for one perfect word? Or somewhere in between?

Thank you for saying that! That poem has been pretty intensely re-written over a period of years, and that's rare for me. Usually I just obsessively write about one idea 5-100 times until two or three of the iterations get at it in the right way.

In addition to writing, you're the managing editor of Bodega Magazine and a poetry editor at Phantom Books. Does reading so much writing by people looking for publication overwhelm you ever or do you find a nice way to balance editing others' work and working on your own writing?

What’s balance? I’ve never heard of it. In theory I’d have learned to compartmentalize different kinds of reading and writing. In reality I still live on a seesaw: I’m either doing one or the other, rarely both.

But I love reading submissions, even though it’s hard. It’s a way to connect with what’s happening out there, to see all the different ways of making a poem. I love being able to cast such a wide net and learn from what I find—it feels weirdly decadent to have access to the writing of so many people—and it definitely informs my own work.  

What can people expect from your reading?

Messiness? Right now I’m trying to sneak up on my writing, doing it in stolen moments and trying not to think about editing or precision at all. So I think I’m going to share some things that are pretty new and unpolished. But I might chicken out.