Of Cholas, Cupcakes and Cypher: Interview with Rachel McKibbens

Rachel McKibbens
Photo courtesy of Peter Dressel

Cypher Books only puts out a book or two a year and it was great to find out that the book for the second half of 2009 would be Rachel McKibbens’ debut collection since she is that rare poet who can win a slam (emphasis on win) with the same group of poems she just got published (emphasis on published) in a journal.

This e-interview was one of the most fun ones I’ve had putting together since Rachel keeps it honest, direct, visceral, artistic, gruesome and light-hearted all in the same breath.  No doubt you’ll find the same qualities in her first book, Pink Elephant, when it comes out in October.

INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL McKIBBENS (excerpt)

OB: Folks are quick to label your poetry under a couple of different banners: slam, performance, confessional, Def Poetry, raw, dark, literary. How would you define your poetics?

RM: I don’t think I can define my own poetics. My brain is all over the place. I’m writing sestinas about the female version of Pinnochio one day, then writing about the dead dog in my mother’s refrigerator the next. All of the words in your question can describe at least one of my poems, but none of these words can cover them all.

The complete interview is live at Letras Latinas.

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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