I Too Want Mushrooms: An Interview with Sara Adams

Sara Adams’ poem, “IMPERMANENCE IS THE ONLY THING THAT WORKS IN FAHRENHEIT AROUND HERE” is featured in our online summer issue. We asked her a few questions about craft. Here are her answers.

Q: Do you have any super secret rituals that help your writing process?

A: I’ve discovered that writing works on a cycle for me. For a chunk of time (days, months, years), I generate new stuff, and then for a chunk of time, my energy is more aligned with non-writing writing things: sending out submissions, reading, experiencing life, etc.. So I guess my secret ritual is to accept what I am able to do creatively at any particular moment, not trying to grasp onto some “inspiration” and mourning when it slips away. It’s a secret ritual that must be practiced constantly.

Q: What parts of your writing have you put the most focus on?

A: Making my writing reader-centric. I’ve spent a lot of time mentally defending my work from others’ critiques with the “you just don’t understand” defense. Sometimes it’s true, but more often than not, my piece only makes sense to me, only unfolds magically before me, while confusing, alienating, and/or boring other people. So I work on sitting on a piece for awhile, carefully considering feedback, and trying to step outside myself to read it. Unfortunately, this process takes much longer than my original plan of writing something, asserting that it is good, and shoving it out into the world.

Q: How have you developed creatively?

A: I’ve experimented a lot. I’ve participated in the Found Poetry Review’s annual poetry challenges for the past 3 years, and some of my best work these days (including the piece published by Permafrost!) comes from those experiments. Writing under constraints forces me to go new places. A lot of it’s crap, but some of it isn’t (!).

Q: What’s your favorite sentence from a piece of writing?

A: My favorite book is Things in the Night by Mati Unt. Favorite sentence goes something like this: “I too want mushrooms; I too am a human being.” He’s talking about regular mushrooms, not special mushrooms, and the universality of human needs in a distinctly Eastern European way.

Q: What types of books (or other art) keep you filled with a sense of wonder about literature?

A: I like poetry chapbooks. I think they’re the ultimate form for poetry. It’s hard for a full-length collection to feel as cohesive as chapbooks often do. They usually also feature emerging poets who have amazing energy and momentum; chapbooks are kind of like the demo tapes of poetry. They’re raw somehow, and not just because many of them are constructed with b&w printers and staplers.

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Sara Adams is a Montessori teacher in Portland, Oregon. She has work in publications such as tNY Press’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature (http://theeeel.com/authors/sara-adams/), DIAGRAM (forthcoming), and/or, and Shampoo Poetry. She also co-wrote Fredward Bound, a full-length New Translation of Twilight with Greg Petrovic.

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