Heather Cox’s poem “This Town is a Photograph” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 3, out now.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was fairly young. I started out writing very short, very weird sci-fi stories—thanks Poe!—and then switched to shitty teenage poetry some years later. Actually, I used to make summer schedules, right about the time I started elementary school, detailing everything I wanted to do that day (watch Power Rangers, make mud pies, draw, “break time”, etc.). Have I ever not been writing? Probably not.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, and then moved to Chicago for graduate school. Arkansas, for me, feels both Southern and Midwestern—just less Springsteen, more Hank Williams.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I’ve been surrounded by rivers and lakes and open fields and overgrowth all my life, so I was naturally drawn to the Midwestern landscape. One in every five Heather Cox poems has a lake or a river in it (or your money back, guaranteed). Some of my favorite poets, too, are Midwest guys: my friend Alexander York and the incredible Zachary Schomburg. Schomburg’s “Scary, No Scary” is actually the poem I immediately go to when I imagine a Midwest poem. There’s this notion of childhood and memory and dream, paired with the dilapidated Midwest, that I love about Schomburg poems and those from other Midwest writers—it’s a skin that really fits for me, too.
Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
Is it the absence of a coast? Surely it can’t be that simple. As a southern transplant, my vote probably goes to the similarities of landscape between the Midwest and the South. When I drive through the rural areas of Illinois, I find myself wondering How is this so different from Arkansas? Maybe it’s all of the cornfields. Do readers not like corn? Whatever the reason, I’m grateful and excited for the recent push that I’ve seen (obviously from you MWG guys) in literary magazines and anthologies. Start the revolution!
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I think it’s an okay and at times necessary way to promote your writing, but it’s all about tone and frequency, in my opinion. I might post once about a forthcoming poem of mine and I always give a strong nod to the publication, too, encouraging friends and followers to read more than just my work. I’m more liberal when I’m promoting my lit mag (Ghost Ocean Magazine), but mostly when I’m posting as the literary entity and not myself. As long as you’re not a spambot, I think it’s understandable.
Yikes. I don’t know about favorite but the books I return to most, even if just for a moment: Joshua Poteat’s Illustrating the Machine That Makes the World; Zach Schomburg’s Scary, No Scary and The Man Suit; Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina’s Sugar Means Yes; Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas; Matthew Rohrer’s A Green Light; Patrick Somerville’s The Universe in Miniature in Miniature; Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind; anything Greying Ghost Press publishes—I’d keep going but I don’t want to overstay my welcome.
It’s Honeycrisp apple season. I’d be lying if I said anything else tastes better this month. Well, maybe hard cider.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and/or Allen Ginsberg. If it wasn’t for the Beats, I probably would have swallowed one too many sonnets and changed my major to computer science.
Where can we find more information about you?
I just started blogging (again) at www.looklookhere.tumblr.com
I tweet pretty frequently at www.twitter.com/heathercox903
I’m a fiend for Goodreads www.goodreads.com/heathercox903
And you can check out me & my mag at www.ghostoceanmagazine.com