Contributor Spotlight: Jennifer Tappenden

Tappenden_copyJennifer Tappenden’s poem “On Looking Into Merwin’s Sirius” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 7, out now.

How long have you been writing?
I started with stories in junior high. They were awful, but my friends wanted to read them anyway, so I was hooked. It wasn’t until college that I realized I was a poet. I graduated from the University at Buffalo in 1991 and have been working steadily at poetry ever since.

What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I’ve lived in St. Louis since 2005 and I’m pursuing an MFA from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I’d never lived in a city quite like St. Louis. I became fascinated with its built environment: how its people both create that environment and are in turn shaped by it; how digging into the ground is also digging through time; how neighborhoods die and regenerate. Learning about it all gave me new language.

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?
There are probably many reasons, one of which might be our very human fascination with extremes. The Midwest is, well, the middle and so it’s easy to overlook. I’m glad that’s changing.

How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I find social media both wonderful and horrible. Wonderful because of how easy it is to keep up with people you’ve moved away from, or to get the word out about art events. Horrible in that it can become a distraction. I occasionally post good news about my writing on Facebook and Twitter, but I mostly use social media to promote Architrave Press. When I started Architrave, Facebook stood in for a true web presence for several months. It’s still how many new readers and writers first encounter the press. I’ve also learned of some great art projects via Twitter and I want to make sure my projects are out there for others to find in a similar fashion.

Favorite book?
Just one? How about my favorite recent read: Carrie Fountain’s Burn Lake.

Favorite food?
Pizza! All the food groups are represented and you can eat it with your hands.

If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
I’d have a drink with the young John Donne, before he repented.

Where can we find more information about you?
The Web:

Twitter: @JRTappenden, @ArchitravePress

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