Interview with Monica Wendel

Monica’s three-part prose poem The Lightning appears in the January issue.What is your biggest challenge as a writer?Not falling into despair. Is that melodramatic? I get overwhelmed easily.Are these poems part of a larger work?Yes — they are part of a series of five prose poems, which are forthcoming in my chapbook Pioneer (Thrush Press). I wrote them in Florida, about Florida. The three you see in r.kv.r.y. I wrote at the hotel pool with my boyfriend, his father, and his stepmother. 

What did you think of the artwork selected to illustrate your piece? Did it have any special meaning for you?

Pairing representational art with my poems was unexpected. I live with abstract artists and am more likely to find myself surrounded by shapes and colors rather than landscapes and people.

That said, I loved how the painting was dramatic and universal, since watching (and listening) to lightning is both of those things. It seems that anyone can relate to those moments of fear and anticipation, and the painting is another way of entering into that experience.

What is your writing process? Do you have one?

Since January 2013 I’ve lived in five different places, and it’s hard, if not impossible, to find a process amidst all that change.

Still, I write best in public, around the noise of people and music and espresso machines. Usually writing invokes waking up early and drinking coffee, then rewarding myself with a walk or a run. Normal stuff. Writing is boring and hard work, just like anything else.

And finally, what does recovery mean for you?

Again, back to this idea of the boring. That recovering, from a breakup or an injury or addiction, just means that you can go back to the hard work of everyday living. That you have to pick up your dog’s shit and be nice to the telemarketer and make rent and buy groceries. It can be disappointing to move out of crisis — like there should be a different person waiting at the other end. But of course, you only end up becoming yourself.