Canadian poet, editor, and publisher, Rob McLennan, interviewed Nicole McCarthy (MFA '17) about her new book, A Summoning, and the writing process that led to the book's creation.
Rob: "Where does a poem usually begin for you?..."
Nicole: "It really depends on the project. My pieces usually begin with a sentence I’ve jotted down or a prompt/moment I’ve been dwelling on for a bit. I spend time developing the piece, giving it space to tell me what form it needs to take. Sometimes it comes out looking like a poem, most times it’s a micro essay. I’ll have a feeling in my gut whether or not it’s done. One time I sat on a micro essay for over a year because every time I revisited it, it didn’t have the impact I was hoping for and something about it felt hungry. Because it was about the illusion of love and betrayal, I ended up splicing the text with late 1800s drawings of magicians doing magic tricks. Then I felt in my gut it was done."
Rob: "Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?"
Nicole: "Public readings are a big part of the process for me. In the way I think about how my text and visuals will lay out on a page, how I think about my use of white space, etc., I approach event venues and readings the same way. Being in-person with an audience brings the potential for additional layers to the work. One event I did focused on the 12-page overlapping memory piece that appears in my book, and I planted people in the audience to read; we took turns reading our parts until our voices overlapped and it was the coolest result. Another performance I did was for my second nonfiction collection. I threw myself a divorce (like someone would throw a wedding) in a Tudor-style mansion in Seattle. I had toast givers and my original wedding dress on a mannequin with photo props to encourage people to take pictures with it. I came into the performance with a 45-foot veil with wildflowers woven in before jumping right into the reading, and it was the most fun I had because I could feel this book take on another level and a new meaning for me. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t done a public reading. It’s my favorite part of the process."
Read the rest of the interview here!
Nicole was also recently interviewed by Vol. 1 Brooklyn for their "Six Ridiculous Questions" column.
Last month also saw a micro essay of McCarthy's being published at Variant Literature here.