Q: Your poem “Like Venus” was a great exploration of romantic tropes.Have you continued to explore those ideas in your work?
A: Yes, the relationship between art and the body is a subject I continue to explore a lot. A different version of “Like Venus” became a part of the chapbook that I wrote for Dr. Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Advanced Poetry course last spring, in which I attempted to sort through and consider different perceptions of the body—as an aesthetic object, as a sexual object, as a biological organism, as something that belongs to us but is forever eluding our understanding, as a foreign entity in which we live and which carries us through life. I think many people, many writers even, assume that writers are wholly authoritative figures, that they have complete control over what they write about and how they write—the pen is in the writer’s hand, after all. But as I continue to write creatively, I continue to surprise myself, to return to certain ideas or subjects that I have no conscious intention of addressing. The body is one of those subjects that is always creeping back into my pen.
Q: Have you continued to write? Do you plan to continue to be a part of the creative writing community?
A: Definitely. I will write poems for the rest of my life. Really, it is all I ever want to do. And I would like to become more involved in the creative writing community, but that will require more effort and gumption on my part. I can be very shy, especially in informal social situations, and I overthink things when it comes to interacting with others. Tonight, for example, I am going to the Crescent Moon to listen to some poetry and to read some of my own. I am not nervous about reading my poems; that part is easy: you stand up in front of the mic, you read your poems, you sit back down. I am nervous about what follows, about approaching and interacting with the other writers, about fitting the right remarks into the right places in time. I suppose that is, in part, why I write—to compensate for the things I cannot say and the connections I have trouble making through conversation.
Q: Has being published connected you with any new fans or fellow writers? Has it changed the way you approach your work?
A: I do not like what being published does to my writing. Being published makes me think more and more about getting published: what will editors think when they read this poem? Which publication should I send this to? Where would it fit best? I also have no patience for the submissions process, either. I just want to write and think about the writing. But this desire is constantly at odds with the desire for people to read and hopefully glean something from my poems. I suppose I should just stop being stubborn and get my poems out there.
Q: How do you approach your work? (Do you have a particular process you come back to, or is it always new?)
A: The most difficult part of the process for me is simply beginning. I can be a perfectionist, and that often times prevents me from writing anything at all. So I usually begin by free-writing—no particular subject, not even a particular form, just whatever comes to mind. Most of what I put down during this step is complete nonsense, but it gets my mind moving and, every so often, I get something good out of it. That something can be a single word, a sentence, an idea for an entirely different poem. One of the poems I published in Laurus a couple of years ago, I think it was titled “Going On,” has this last line: “and their going on is hope if I ever saw it.” “Hope if I ever saw it”—that is a line that came up when I was free writing. I wrote it at the bottom of a page that was full of crap, full of gibberish and dead ends and craziness, but then that line came out and I knew it was something good, something I could build from. I really do believe that if you want to write something good, you need to brave the bad for a while.
Q: Do you have any advice for other creative writing students—a mindset or a piece of wisdom—that has helped you creatively?
A: One of my favorite quotes is by Ernest Hemingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.” How freeing is that? As I mentioned before, I have trouble beginning my poems, so to keep in mind that the first draft isn’t supposed to be profound or beautiful or even interesting is very comforting, and very freeing. To build on that idea, any advice I would have for fellow writers is to not be afraid. Never be afraid of trying new things in your writing. A lot of the time, what you try won’t work, but that is okay. Laugh it off and try again. You will always learn something.
Q: What have you been up to lately?
A: I’m working on a chapbook right now, based on my experience working at Nebraska Book Company over the summer. I almost have a complete rough draft of about 20 or so poems, so I hope to publish that eventually.
Q: Have you been published anywhere else?
A: Not recently, though I did just send off some poems to The Sun, which is my favorite literary magazine—it prints such rich and interesting content. And I also post poems weekly on my blog (snowchildpoet.com)
Q: What are your current plans?
A: Aw man, that question again. I really don’t know. All I really want to do is write, so I suppose I’ll find a job that keeps me sheltered and fed and write in my spare time. I am both excited and terrified to see where things go.
Kloefkorn’s poems “Like Venus” and “The Problem with 20/20 Vision” appear in the 2013 issue of Laurus.
Art detail by Georgina Vieane