Next Big Thing Interview

Catherine Pritchard Childress

As part of our celebration of National Poetry Month, the North American Review Blog will be hosting several installments of The Next Big Thing Self-Interview Series, in which writers answer the same nine questions about their forthcoming books or works-in-progress!

This week I am proud to be presenting Catherine Pritchard Childress’ contribution to the Next Big Thing Self-Interview Series! You can read her stunning poem, "Hush," in the summer 2012 issue of the North American Review (you totally should do this!)!!

Catherine Pritchard Childress lives in the shadow of Roan Mountain, Tennessee. She is a Masters Candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at East Tennessee State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the North American Review, The Connecticut Review, The Cape Rock, Town Creek Poetry, Still: The Journal, Kaimana, Kudzu Review, Southern Women’s Review, Stoneboat and other journals and have been anthologized in Southern Appalachian Poetry: Tennessee Poets.


What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was working on a series of persona poems, quite literally other voices, when I realized that so many of my poems explored relationships in which someone could be characterized as marginalized or other than in some way.

With the exception of the persona poems (most written in the voices of Biblical women) I didn’t make a conscious decision to deal with those whom I now identity as other. However, in many ways the writer, the poet, the artist is other in that we are always on the margins, the fringe, observing people and settings and taking little pieces of them with us, leaving pieces of ourselves behind, as Keats said he often did.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Even as I was writing the Biblical women poems I could see Hollywood greats like Susan Hayward and Rita Hayworth who portrayed Salome and Bathsheba. Although some of my poems are more autobiographical than others, for the most part these poems are meant to portray universal experiences so I don’t necessarily see myself as a character. But, what the heck, how often does one get to answer this question? I’d choose Diane Lane to play me. She seems to have just the right balance of gregariousness and introspection to match my personality, which is sometimes considered atypical for a poet. There are quite a few ambiguous male characters in my poems as well. So, while I’m dreaming a little maybe Javier Bardem, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Colin Firth, and Michael Douglas would play those characters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The book’s epigraph:
Only that which is the other gives us fully unto ourselves ~ Sri Yoganando.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I just hope it will be published at all! I don’t have an agent and I am not likely to self-publish, but I certainly hope some small press might pick up this collection.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Although most of these poems are written in women’s voices, they are all poems about relationships and how we navigate our various positions within them. Some poems deal with otherness by subverting traditional paradigms. Other poems simply explore what it is like to part of a relationship (any relationship) that doesn’t quite work in a given moment. The emotional, personal content on these poems is balanced with formal structures and other elements of control, like personae.


Thanks to poet Linda Parsons Marion for tagging me. Be on the lookout for answers from Rachel Morgan, Susan Ishmael-Poulos, and William Wright next week.