The Next Best Thing: Self Interview

THE NEXT BEST THING:  Interview with Cynthia Atkins

Much gratitude to Nick Ripatrazone for inviting me to participate in The Next Best Thing this week—His Darksome Burn is a literary horror-novella, to be published by firthFORTH Books, an imprint of Queen’s Ferry Books.  *I also send warm congrats on the twins due in June—babies and a book, how blessed he is!  His interview here:

I very much enjoyed this chance to be in dialogue with myself—and to find out things I didn’t even know–

1.     What is the working title of the book?

        In The Event of Full Disclosure

2.     Where did the idea come from for the book?

         “There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in,

        but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within

        which all other love finds speech. This love is silent.” –T.S. Eliot

I am interested in the various and complex dynamics of family relationships, especially when compounded with the burdens of mental illness—Trying to reconcile the elusive entanglements, the loss, beauty and confusion of our inner lives. I began writing these poems to try to make sense of the irrational and to achieve linguistic transformation. Also, to deflect pain by asking questions, finding humor and irony in all tragedy: “Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.”–Nietzsche

3.     What genre does your book fall under?


4.     What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters

in a movie rendition?

I’d be more interested in the directors:  Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen,

Jean Luc Godard, Tim Burton

5.     What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

“The family dog / can’t fathom these domestic / complications /

He eats and sleeps, avoids / eye-contact, and hides under / the bed during storms. /”

6.     How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’ve been working on this second book for five years.  In fits and starts—measured

in time, bags of coffee, paper-cuts, tears, music, and many words chewed!

7.     Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love language. I am inspired by visual art, and by the music and secrets of words. I am energized by poets and writers that plant seeds and take me off the page when I read them.

I am inspired by the love of my family and living the small and daily moments of life.  This line rolls through my head a lot when I am composing a poem:  “No ideas but in things.”—William Carlos Williams

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

There is a sequence of poems in sections called “Family Therapy” and each section of the poem begins and connects to each section of the book—threads the themes and subjects in a narrative that gives each section of the book a kind of marker or cue to themes—relating to the larger culture and ‘family of man.

Hush, we’ll never tell,

yet deep down we know, the mind’s pain

is the last inconsolable and extra gene.

Rabid dog in the school yard—

Mean and mad and frothing.

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

In The Event of Full Disclosure will be published by Wordtech, July 2013: I am grateful to my publisher and I also look forward to launching it at The Sacramento Poetry Center, on July 22, 2013 * Reading with Geoffrey Nutter and Stephanie Brown, and curated by Tim Kahl

 Wordtech, Custom Words Imprint:

*I feel much appreciation to the wonderful journals that have sustained me by publishing some of the poems from In The Event of Full Disclosure.  *More info at my website:

Del Sol Review:

 Juice Press:

InQuire:  “In Plain Sight” (collaboration with Christine Drake) Nov. 2011

10.   My tagged writers for next Wednesday (2/6) THE NEXT BEST THING

 Matthew Bialer: His collection, ARK is forthcoming from Black Coffee Press, 2013.

Ash Bowen: The Even Years of Marriage, (working title) just won the Dream Horse Press Competition will be forthcoming;

 Karen Carissimo’s Dream City is just recently out from Iris Books, 2012,

Seb Doubinsky: Spontaneous Combustions will be forthcoming from Black Coffee Press in 2013. 

Melanie McCabe: The History of The Body was just recently published from Wordtech in 2012.

William Waltz: Adventures in the Lost Interiors of America, will be forthcoming in 2013


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