The Next Big Thing – Susanna Mishler

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sj mishler author photoI’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to someone that I’m considering a press-sister, Susanna Mishler. Susanna’s book is coming out in 2014 from the same press that is representing my book. I’m super excited to read Susanna’s work, and I hope that after reading this, you will be as well.

Susanna J. Mishler ‘s work has appeared in journals such as Alaska Quarterly Review, Hotel Amerika, The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Mid-American Review and elsewhere.  She earned an MFA in Poetry from The University of Arizona in Tucson, where she also served as a poetry editor for Sonora Review.  She received a Peter Taylor Fellowship in Poetry at the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop.  Susanna helps curate the Synergies Live Reading and Performance SeriesSynergies brings wordsmiths together with visual and performing artists to create unique and dynamic events.  It hosts writers of national acclaim as well as local and emerging artists and writers.

Susanna earns her living as an electrician during the work week.  She also teaches poetry workshops on occasion. Among other things, she’s worked as a wildlife surveyor, dock hand, science educator, and sled dog handler.  She lives in Anchorage.

What is the working title of the book?

The collection is titled Termination Dust.  I struggled to find a title for the manuscript.  I went through a dozen titles.  Then one fall I wrote to a poet who lives in the Midwest and explained that Alaskans call the first snowfall on the mountains “termination dust”.  She wrote back and said, “That’s a great term.  It would make a good book title.”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s been an evolving project.  I never sat down to a blank page and thought “I think I’ll write a book of poems.”  The ideas I had were for individual poems.  Eventually I wondered what these individual poems might have to say to each other.  It was challenging to step back from individual poems in order to look at how they might together say more than each could say alone.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry.  The poems are diverse in their craft and strategy, which made it an interesting book to unify as a collection.  Termination Dust has everything from a prose poem to a sestina, from image-driven lyrics to storytelling narratives.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

A series of poems are from the point of view of a boy named Silas.  He’d be played by Christian Bale right around the time Bale played Jamie in Empire of the Sun (1987).

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s the prayerbook of an athiest.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

From the composition of the first poem to the acceptance of the manuscript for publication was about 12 years.  I sent earlier versions of the manuscript to book contests beginning about 5 years ago.  Before that many of the poems were in my MFA thesis which I assembled for my degree from The University of Arizona in 2004.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I can’t trace the book to a single source of inspiration, but the long process of assembling and refining this collection has been a lesson in what my own obsessions are.  Termination Dust grapples with questions of death and sense of place.  It has a lot of animals and animal encounters in it.  It’s fascinated by the points of friction between human vulnerability and ability to destroy.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

Poem titles from this collection include “The Imagination as a Hedgehog”, “Circusthalamium”, and “Tired, I Lie Down in the Parking Garage”.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m delighted that Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, has accepted Termination Dust for publication in 2014.  Boreal Books is edited by Alaskan poet and essayist Peggy Shumaker, and focuses on fine literature and fine art from Alaska.

My tagged writer for next week is:

Amy Pickworth, whose responses will be published at H_NGM_N

Chrystine Byl (whose responses will likely appear here on Being Poetry)

One Response

  1. Can’t wait to read both your books!

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