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Friday, March 30, 2012

Behind the Masthead: Christine Holm

Continuing our editor interviews, this week we we tracked down the elusive and enigmatic Christine Holm and asked her to explain herself, her current self-imposed postcard prompt, and the heist she's been planning.

Hayden’s Ferry Review: What are you reading currently (outside of HFR submissions)?

Christine Holm: I’m mostly catching up on old issues of Scientific American Mind, but I'm also doing some rereading of Mick Jackson’s Ten Sorry Tales and Kurt Schwitters’ Lucky Hans. I'm being terribly inefficient with each of these, probably reading one story or article, getting up for something, returning and picking up a different book.

HFR: What are you writing right now?

CH: This is more a prompt for myself than a project, since I send them to USPS, but I've been writing vignettes on postcards and sending them to addresses of places I used to live. It seems to be an exercise in memory - odd or kind or noisy neighbors, creaky staircases, milestones I did or didn’t quite hit.

HFR: Neat! What’s the strangest thing you wrote about recently? (or, if you write about strange things all the time, what’s the normal-est thing you wrote about recently?)

CH: Usually I argue my poems are emotionally true but the events and facts are heavily fabricated, so writing verifiable personal histories is a certain new strangeness/normalcy.

HFR: What kinds of things do you like to see show up in the submission queue?

CH: Poems with duende. Poems with a Dickinsonian as-if-the-top-of-my-head-were-taken-off feeling that doesn’t bother with explaining how or why it is a poem, but just is. And you never know when this will happen. I can’t tell you how, but at one moment I’m reading a poem that starts out with a blood draw and the next moment the page is on fire. It isn’t necessarily about drama or grand gestures or heartbreak, but a poet doing her work.

HFR: What kinds of things would you like to see more of?

CH: We get a lot of smart poems from very intelligent poets. I’m constantly learning from poets’ submissions, and I’m terribly grateful for that. Sometimes, though, I suspect some of those poets edit themselves out during revisions. I’d like to see more play for its own sake; poems that don’t take themselves so seriously even when they are very serious. Maybe there need to be more playground weddings. Dodgeball games determining final grades. Food fights at retirement homes. Those are probably terrible ideas. It isn’t the silliness I’d like to see more of, but sincerity paired with the smarts.

HFR: If you were the hero of a heist movie, what writers (alive or dead) would you pick to be on your heist team and what would their roles be? What would you be stealing?

CH: Adrian Matejka and John Murillo are tag-teaming turntables at an AWP dance party. Plath and Patti Smith throw down some vocals over the tracks. Frank O'Hara works the room red-flagging serious offenders. I'm the bouncer at the door. The heist: bad poet dance moves. We all leave a little more capable of keeping the Electric Slide beat.


Christine Holm is a first year poet in Arizona State University's MFA program. She is a native daughter of the Midwest and still finding her desert legs: how much water intake is really enough? How should a cockroach be escorted outside? What is the best antihistamine for orange blossoms? She would like you to tell her a story.

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