Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rachel M. Simon: “The Next Big Thing” Interview Project

“The Next Big Thing” book interview project asks writers to answer a series of questions about their recent or forthcoming book, post it on their blog/web-space, and tag others for the next week. Rachel M. Simon will be talking about her manuscript in progress.

The Next Big Thing: Rachel M. Simon

Submariners lost at sea are deemed “on eternal patrol.” My pal Russell Dillon’s book Eternal Patrol is coming out from Forklift books just after AWP (you should preorder a copy at AWP if you’re there…), and he asked me to do this interview.

What is the working title of the book?
The working title is Naming Rights. I planned to use that title and then read a manuscript (in my role as the senior editor at Toadlily Press) with the same name. I don’t know if the title will stick, but it’s the best of the many choices I have written on butcher paper on the wall of my office (including Municipal Stadium, Jock Rock, Stadium Pal, and Bracket).

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My father is a big sports fan. I grew up in a house that embraced every sports teams of Cleveland (my parents left Cleveland in the mid-60s and raised my brother and me in multiple non-Cleveland locations) from afar. The Browns were the home team within our house, and in middle school (before the NFL Ticket) my dad and I would spend football-season Sundays at sports bars with a club called The Browns Backers of Texas. Cleveland sports are so important in my family that my parents moved back to Cleveland (and bought a seat license at Brown Stadium) when they retired. Sports take up our time and emotional space (even now that I’ve lived away from my parent’s house as many years as I lived in it, and don’t have a TV).
I wrote a few sports poems and my friend Melissa Febos encouraged me to write more. It is a fun exercise exploring mythical figures and sports controversies that are simultaneously vital and meaningless.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Many of the folks who show up in the poems are public figures (Kobe Bryant, Caster Semenya, Greg Louganis, Joe Theisman, etc.), so you could use archival footage for them. When my family shows up in the book the actors would need to look visibly Jewish and from Cleveland.
There could be a casting call in Cleveland in the same way The Wire used locals from Baltimore or how all the actors in Winter’s Bone are wearing clothing bought from locals’ closets.
Has anyone spliced the DNA of Mandy Patinkin and Drew Carey?
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Naming Rights is a collection of sports poems for poets who don’t care about sports and sports fans who might not love poetry yet.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ll let you know once I’ve finished it, but I’m starting year four.
I’ve been writing pretty slowly since my chapbook Marginal Road came out from Hollyridge Press in 2009. I’m a little more than halfway through with the manuscript now and started working on it in earnest when I had a year position as a SUNY Purchase College Writers Center Fellow in 2011-2012.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A combination of the near constant diet of ESPN I received in my childhood and current work teaching gender studies courses.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will send the book out to poetry presses once it is complete.
My tagged writers for next week are:
Chloe Yelena Miller, Eleanor Paynter, Gretchen Primack, Emily Stokes, Leah Umansky

Rachel M. Simon is the author of the poetry collection Theory of Orange (Pavement Saw Press 2006) and a chapbook, Marginal Road (Hollyridge Press 2009). She teaches writing, gender studies, and film courses at Marymount Manhattan College at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, SUNY Purchase College, Pace University, Poets House, libraries, schools, and others.

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