Interview with Poet Kristin Garth

hand shadowHere’s an interview with poet Kristin Garth about her recent work. You can read some of her poetry linked in the interview below and more on her blog (also linked below).

You’re a self-proclaimed prolific vixen and have had lots of poems published recently. Which are your favourite three, why and where can we read them?

The prolific vixen job title (my occupation I list on Scribophile, our mutual writing site) is not actually a self-proclaimed title. One of my best friends called me that one day, and I loved it so much that I adopted it as my occupation. The prolific part fits for sure. The vixen part is aspirational, but it sounds great.

As for my three favorite poems I have written, this is a hard question because I truly love all my sonnet offspring. Slut Shame, Slender Secrets and Maudlin Mermaid are three current favorites. Slut Shame I love because it speaks to how women are so easily scapegoated and shamed. Slender Secrets I wrote from the point of view of a teenager with schizophrenia, a girl who attempted to murder a friend for the Slender Man. I’m proud because I felt a real responsibility to nail these, and the response they get makes me feel I lived up to that.

Maudlin Mermaid, I love because she is new and was an easy birth in a bubble bath. I stayed in a bubble bath extra long until she was done, and she was scooped up and adored by a publication right away. She has a message, a fable about girls who are dark and sad sometimes. Perhaps we live in a world that is dark and sad, and we are sensitive enough to realize that and acknowledge it.

Slut Shame is available on Occulum: https://occulum.net/2017/09/13/two-poems-by-kristin-garth/

Slender Secrets you can read here on Anti-Heroin Chic: http://heroinchic.weebly.com/blog/poetry-by-kristin-garth1296483

Maudlin Mermaid will be published in The Mystic Blue Review, Issue 2, in late October. Here’s a link to their site:

http://themysticbluereview.weebly.com

What are your main artistic drives?

Oh, I have a lot of drives. I’m a complicated girl. I was a victim of sexual assault who is also very sexual, so I embrace and write everything from erotic poetry to transgressive to feminist themes to sexual bondage and submission. I even write horror, erotic horror and true crime. My main drive is to write every day, but I never know what’s going to come out on that screen and stare me back in the eye.

Who are your main influences?

My favorite male writer of prose is Bret Easton Ellis. I love his dark sensibility and the way evil and privilege are almost mundane. Joyce Carol Oates is my favorite female writer. She’s the role model of prolificness, and she has a gothic tone and a dark eroticism to a lot of her works that I’ve always been obsessed with. As far as poets, 99 percent of my works are Shakespearean sonnets so Shakespeare is my literary master, of course. Though I have a huge affinity for Poe and e e Cummings.

Your work is often sexual. Have you come up against resistance in portraying female and submissive sexuality and what do you feel about this?

This is an excellent question. I absolutely have struggled in some venues of publishing for my subject matter. I think it’s the combination of my writing in a formal style that isn’t commonly used for provocative art. I wrote a sonnet called Rejection (Translation) in which I reference this dilemma I face: some of the people who would like my subject matter don’t like what they consider to be a conservative, restrictive form. And sometimes the formalists don’t really like my subject matter.

The way I have broken through this is sheer persistence. I am as prolific in my publishing efforts as I am in my writing. I send something out at least every other day. Recently I had one of my most politically incorrect poems My Sex Has No Safe Spaces published in Quail Bell Magazine. Quail Bell is very feminist. The editors are women, and they ran my ode to submission. I’ve managed to find people who get me, but I’m always looking for more.

Trauma plays a big part in your work, which can be challenging subject for writers. What approach do you take to conveying trauma?

I’ve written a lot of poems about trauma, some personal, some invented and some belonging to other people. When I write about my own trauma and abuse, it’s a fine line you know between being maudlin and being honest. I am sure I’ve failed but I strive to err on the side of relaying information and not caving into the obvious emotion. That’s the goal.

When I’m writing someone else’s experience, especially a real life individual I feel the pressure even more. My nightmare is to write about someone’s pain and it be totally inauthentic to them. It’s the kind of fear that can make you not want to write, so I have to eventually let that go and do my best. I think that pain is universal and having lived through a lot of trauma, it gives me a shorthand in speaking this language. But I always write from a perspective of respect to the victim.

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola, Florida. Her sonnets and other poetry have been featured in Anti-Heroin Chic, Quail Bell Magazine, MookychickInfernal Ink, Digging Through the Fat and No Other Tribute: Erotic Tales of Women in Submission, an anthology.  Follow her on her blog at https://kristingarth.wordpress.com/ or at twitter.com/lolaandjolie.

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Sympathy for the Devil

For Halloween, here’s a little ponder on the dark side.

gustavedoreparadiselostsatanprofile

Gustave Dore, Depiction of Satan (Public Domain).

What media taught me about bad guys is that they often rely on their brains instead of their physical prowess; they trust the wrong people and get burnt by it; they have spiky trauma and other mental health issues which they fail to deal with gracefully; they feel huge emotions not easily contained—their love will claw its way from the grave, their rage will topple nations; if you hurt the people they care about they will have their revenge; they’re sharp dressers; they’re camp or arch, and in other ways their gender and sexuality is unstable, non-standard; physically, they’re sometimes trapped between two states; they rail against social and moral hypocrisy; they’re kinky as hell; they’re often British, or at least European; some of them can’t breathe without a respirator. In short, these are my people.

I don’t know at what age I started rooting for the bad guys. Maybe it was Star Wars, bastion of kink and asthmatic villains, that tipped me over to the dark side. Maybe I gave into my anger because someone blew up my home planet and dropped a house on my sister. Maybe it was the villagers with pitchforks. I just know that increasingly, as I got older, the monsters and villains appealed to me.

Maybe all those subtle little hints that anyone who wasn’t Mr Macho Apple Pie White Guy was not the right kind of people wormed their way into my sense of self. And I stopped rooting for the right kind of people, because I wanted to fight for my side.

I’m not sorry that happened. It’s who I am, woven into my identity as much as any other aspect of my experience. When I see diversity of representation growing in mainstream media, it makes me happy. It’s fantastic that more kids can now see themselves being the heroes (though there’s plenty of room for growth there, clearly). But, while it makes me glad on a logical level, I don’t feel the connection I did with those twisted fuck ups I grew up watching and reading about. The world still feels like a dark and messed up place, and I’m not always sure it’s worth fighting for. With those new heroes, I feel no transgressive thrill as when a villain tips over the pillars of society with gay abandon, while chewing on some scenery and looking darkly fabulous. There’s no edge to it, no danger, no challenge to the status quo. Because, perversely, there’s power in knowing you’re someone’s worst nightmare. Maybe, at heart, I don’t want my people to be the good guys, I just want the bad guys to win.