I recently was able to review a short collection called White Spiders by Lisa Marie Basile, whose journal Caper has published my work in the past. Lisa is a kind of literary whirlwind--she runs Caper Journal, Patasola Press, hosts readings all over the place, and is a fine poet in her own write. (Sorry--bad pun.)
Me: What inspired you start to start Caper & Patasola Press? Do you feel that you are achieving your goals?
Lisa: Though Caper is in the process of being revamped and thus is on hiatus, I started it because I loved to read people's work and give people another opportunity to share their voice. I started Patasola Press because I wanted to create tangible pieces of literature, things people could hold and adore, things that would stay around forever. I want to provide authors with a positive and creative publishing process, and more so -- even the playing field for authors out there. Patasola's mission is three-fold: to provide a publishing avenue for new and emerging writers (some will publish their first book with us), promote underrepresented writers, with a special focus on women and multicultural writers and to, again, be an author-focused press. Part of my mission is also to create interesting books, interesting events and be a part of the literary community at large by promoting writers through our new interview series, partnering with literary and equality-focused organizations. I have big dreams, but I like it that way. The main short term goal is to find ways to keep it sustainable and present beautiful, unique work to readers.
Me: You’ve been fundraising lately for Patasola Press. How can folks help out? What do you have lined up for the future of Patasola Press?
Lisa: Patasola Press is and was funded out-of-pocket, with help from authors and friends. It is important that Patasola Press has a financial safety net, not money that we can spend quickly or thoughtlessly, but money that will help us when we need it on projects that come up. Sometimes a project here and there can make the difference in quality (design, printing) or outreach (ads, for one) and having back-up funds is really important. I am a working student and writer, so these funds really go a long way in helping me and my editors make choices that aren't largely dictated by monetary limitations. We're a small press, yes, but we want to have some leverage. The future of Patasola Press sees a complete Siren Series (chapbooks by female writers), partnering for projects with organizations within the community for the arts, a catalogue of diverse and strong literature and poetry, a distribution deal so we can really reach out, an online literary component.
People can a) donate their money to our Kickstarter or if they feel uncomfortable, they can email us email@example.com about sending money via another source. We have a goal (that we'd like to exceed) of $1,500, and as of this date, we're over $1,100. We'd love if everyone could send what they could, be it $5, $10, or whatever. Become a Chimera (Supporter) by donating under $100.00 or become a Siren (Sponsor) by donating over $100.00!
People can b) spread the word, blog about us, profile one of our authors, interview us about our Siren Series or other projects we're doing.
People can c) volunteer their tme as layout designers, illustrators, etc. The more people on board, the more vision and love goes into the work.
Me: Who are your biggest literary influences? & how have they influenced you?
Lisa: Cesar Vallejo, Isabel Allende, Marguerite Duras, Albert Camus, Lorca. I have to give Cesar Vallejo all of the credit. In college, I was writing what I thought of as 'good poetry.' That probably wasn't the case. When a friend gave me Vallejo's work, it changed everything. I was able to see how he strained the human condition through interesting words, giving it both a beauty and an accessibility that made the poem really vivid and meaningful. He didn't just write words, which I was doing. He was evoking something bigger, something tinged with the surreal and macabe. He had a defined yet fluid aesthetic, and he was sincere. In reading Vallejo I promised to keep my work sincere and interesting. Maybe I get it down sometimes, maybe not. But he's a complete inspiration. Another one of my influences is Marguerite Duras. She is able to write so clearly and make such specific literary choices that every sentence is important and lively. Camus, I love, for the same reason -- mostly for The Stranger. I love Isabel Allende because I'm in love with her magic realism and ability to really craft character.
Me: What have you read recently that knocked you on your ass?
Lisa: Marosa Di Giorgio's The History of Violets. She's a Uruguayan poet with Italian heritage, and she's just amazing. She writes of trinkets and shells and naughty ghosts and memories and light and butterflies and bits of things and macabre things and feminine, ghastly things. I love her aesthetic so much I want to live inside her books. She has really inspired me lately, and the more I read her, the more she brings out writing in me that I've supressed for reasons to do with writing painful memories and wondering if readers would like such imagist work. She is able to anchor the author in the worlds she creates. She writes:
When I look toward the past, I only see perplexing things: sugar, jasmine, white wine, black wine, the strange country school I attended for four years, murders, weddings among the orange blossoms, incestuous couplings.
I just love the Black wine. It's incredible.
Me: You recently published Rae Bryant’s collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals. What made you fall in love with this book?
Lisa: I love Rae's writing because she has real command of her voice, is able to blend the surreal and the realistic really well -- through the magic and oddness, she shows you our world, and sort of makes you realize how our lives are all very bizarre. She's not afraid to confront to the painful, embaressing, cringe-inducing things in life. Sometimes I hold my breath when I read her work, because I'm embarressed for the character or for humanity or my own life. I know she's good because she's able to make me feel off-balance. Her stories are also very beautiful. She had me at her publication of Empress of the Riverbank in PANK, which was illuminated, odd, sad and lovely. She is good at her craft. Her language and writing is clean but not boring. She's not afraid, but she's thoughtful. That's a literary tight rope right there.
Me: Can you tell me a little about your own writing routine? How do you balance writing with publishing?
Lisa: I tend to let writing fall by the wasteside when working on publishing and other projects. I've been doing so much editing and press work that sometimes I forget who I am. In the end, I use their talent to inspire me to create sometime I'd want to read if I weren't me. I write sporatically. I used to be prolific. But I also wasn't as clever or thoughtful. I now write seldomly, and when I do I labor over everything. I like it better this way. I write when it hits, or when I absolutely need to draw it out like blood. I like to look at pretty things when I write, like the Brothers Quay or vintage anatomy illustrations, ghastly things. When I'm exhausted, sometimes it's just in there, like a storm, waiting. I have to sometimes put down everything and tend to it. So, there isn't a routine. It's just when I start to need to write. I suppose it's rather sexual in its analogy.
Me: What are you working on?
Lisa: I am working with the Poetry Society of New York / The Poetry Brothel on a chapbook called Andalusia, a chapbook about a dream state, written largely in prose-poems. This is my first collection that dabbles with prose-poetry. I'm reading with The Poetry Society of New York/ The Poetry Brothel at our house on Governor's Island this summer, which was granted by the Fund for Governor's Island, generously. I worked on the New York Poetry Festival with them, and read from Diorama, a chapbook my friend Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein and I wrote together. I am also writing new poems, slowly but surely. They're changing forms, becoming longer. In a few weeks, I'll start my last year of my graduate writing program at The New School. I don't love the general concept of MFA programs, as I think they sometimes breed a homegenous sound; I have my own reasons for joining: making connections, noting teaching styles, being in an honest critiquing enviroment (when it is.) I'll finish a book this year as part of my thesis, and I think I'm going to work on a novella-in-vignettes that I started in 2008. I visited Spain this year (and the book is about Spain) so I want to infuse my memories into the writing.
In publishing, I'm putting together the Siren Series for Patasola Press, a new series of female poetry chapbooks. Our first is by the talented T.M. De Vos, called The Dimestore World. I'm also working on final edits for J.A. Tyler's Comatose and Mimi Ferebee's Seraglio, for Patasola Press. I'm also publishing a collection of mythological re-telling by the members of The Poetry Brothel, as a project co-edited by The Poetry Society of New York.
Me: If you were to be remembered for one work, which would it be?
Lisa: I don't know yet, I don't know the answer to your question. I wish I did, but I know my most important work hasn't come yet. I know it'll be there when I finally have to confront the saddest things in my life. And the saddest things haven't happened yet.
Me: You have a book coming out from Cervena Barva Press. Can you tell us about it?
Lisa: Cervena Barvas' wonderful editor, Gloria Mindock, is publishing my full-length collection, A Decent Voodoo. It's a book I wrote in college and was contracted in 2010, so it's been a while coming! It showcases a sensual world of bodies, ritual, location and my minimalist style at that time. A lot of it is about people and places and ghosts -- things I have never seen, people I've never met, places I've never been, and telling my own tales through them. It's about the lines between good and bad, sad and free. I'm in the process of editing it finally and getting endorsements. I'm really, really, really grateful to Gloria Mindock.
Me: Tell me about the poetry Brothel. What is it?
Lisa: I am a member of The Poetry Brothel, which is produced by The Poetry Society of New York, a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas. The Poetry Brothel, specifically, is one project of TPSNY, and it's lovely! I've been in the Brothel for a year now, and it's really inspired me.. The Brothel provides a unique reading and listening experience for visitors. Instead of being read to by a poet at a podium, listeners (Johns, or patrons) here live readings by a number of poets through out one night (there may be music, burlesque or magic shows between) and then they can choose a poet from their live readings or from a book of character bios (each Brothel poet has a character and background, in addition to their real-life poetic selves) and have a private reading. The private readings cost a certain amount of money and the poet takes the listener to a hallway, a bedroom, a chaise longue, a telephone booth (it depends on our location. We've had a residency at The Back Room, a speakeasy in NYC as well as on Governor's Island all summer in a colonial mansion we've decorated fully). The listener hears the poets, can interrupt the reading, ask questions, read poems to the poet. Maybe hands are help. Maybe whispers are heard. It isn't sexual at all, but it's play on the exchange of money for sex for money for poetry. It brings poetry into the arena as a commodity. There's a brothel in Barcelona, Montreal, Hanoi, Chicago, New Orleans, California, and many other places. We could show up at any port and be welcomed. It's a beautiful world that is bringing talented, published poets to listeners in a unique setting. In the end, even if the show is wild and gorgeous, it's about the poetry and craft of language, the connection between people and poets. My name is Luna Liprari. Would you like a private reading?