Contributor Spotlight: Katie Longofono

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photoKatie Longofono’s poems “Good Will” and “Split” appear in Midwestern Gothic Issue 4, out now.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing poetry of the awful, couplet-y variety since I was eleven years old. I took a writing hiatus for several years in an attempt to pursue more “practical” career choices, but ended up becoming the poetry nut I am today after taking some workshop courses two years ago.

So, officially: ten years

Seriously: two.

What’s your connection to the Midwest?
My family moved to Kansas from the east coast eight years ago. At the time, Topeka and the Midwest represented a very special circle of hell reserved to torture me during my angsty high school years. Now, it’s familiar and in some ways more of a home than anywhere else I’ve lived.

How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I think the Midwest becomes most apparent anytime I introduce natural imagery into my work. Landscapes, plantlife, etc. are almost always inspired by what I can directly observe in Kansas.

However, frequently the Midwest influences my writing in more subtle ways. There is a distinctive attitude here that is not always present elsewhere in the US; something more open and empathetic in the interactions between people that I’ve noticed. This may play into why I’ve come to consider Kansas a home–my writing reflects and attempts to replicate this straight-forward nature. I don’t think my work would have developed as fully, or felt as comfortable to me, if I had attempted to begin my writing career outside of the unique mindset I’ve experienced in the Midwest.

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?
I don’t really feel qualified to answer (being such a young writer, I’m not as informed on the writing movements as I’d like) but I’ll give it a shot. I think it’s because many writers leave the Midwest in order to get recognition for their work, and it’s easy to forget those roots. There are a lot of stereotypes associated with the Midwest that may compel these writers to attempt to disassociate themselves. I imagine, for some, it would be easier to embrace the writing culture in NYC (or the west coast, south, etc) rather than attempt to return to the Midwest and create that push.

That being said, in recent years the writing community in the Midwest has been gaining attention. I think there’s a big shift coming our way–I hope so, anyway. I love all the regional journals popping up!

How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I love it–I use it all the time. I try not to be “that girl” on Facebook that spams like crazy, but I definitely think it is a unique tool for promotion. I tend to use Facebook and Twitter more to promote journals–I disperse information about Blue Island Review, the journal I edit with Mary Stone Dockery, or if somebody I know is published in a cool journal I’ll link to it. I like to think of social media as a way to give everybody on my friends list some new reading material for the day.

Favorite book?
This is never an easy question; there are so many books that I adore. However, I continually return to The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Not the most sophisticated piece of literature out there, but it resonated with me when I first read it and continues to with each re-read. The title for my first chapbook was actually inspired by a poem in this novel, so I guess it has been a pivotal book in terms of my own work.

Favorite food?
My grandmother’s sunday meat sauce with pasta. I could eat Italian food every day of the week (and, uh, sometimes do).

If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Sylvia Plath. I want to get inside that lady’s head.

Where can we find more information about you?
I’m ashamed to say that I am a failed blogger, so I don’t really have anything exciting to link to. You can friend me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter (@longofonz). Or write me a letter–that would be cool.

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