VIDA Reads with Writers — Krystal Languell!

What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?

I’m making my way through Alice Notley’s latest, Benediction, from Letter Machine Editions. It is a big book. It’s going to take me a while. I just finished Janet Malcolm’s The Silent Womana book about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and it was RIVETING. I have more of her books out from the library now. I’m going to write her a fan letter! That’s how awesome.

What book popped for you in 2015?Savage_Coast_400px

I keep a list of books I finish, and so in looking back I’m most worked up over Muriel  Rukeyser’s Savage Coast (a novel), so much so that I’m teaching it this semester. I read it as I was planning a trip to Paris, and then when I was in the middle of the book the 11/13/15 attacks happened. The uncertainty I felt in asking myself “Am I afraid?” resonated with my reading, which in some ways felt like reading the news, flipping pages to see what would happen next in 2015 rather than 1936. Then, in fact, the visible military presence on the streets of Paris, particularly on Christmas Day, particularly surrounding Notre Dame Cathedral, reaffirmed my feeling of what could most concisely be called the extreme relevance of Rukeyser’s book.

Whose words do you return to regularly?

Over the last 6-7 years, I’ve often returned to Lisa Robertson’s books, which are so challenging for me and inspiring. And I love to reread big novels. I love Anna Karenina, I love The Portrait of a Lady. I read Middlemarch last summer and then started writing about provincialism–I’m still thinking into it.

Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?

I can’t wait to read Belladonna*’s forthcoming books by Caroline Crumpacker, Uljana Wolf (translated by Sophie Seita), and Jennifer Firestone! These will begin to become available this summer through spring 2017. Also I just ordered Julie Carr’s Think Tank (in part because I’m reading with her in March!) and the anthology Angels of the Americylpse (edited by Carmen Gimenez Smith and John Chavez).

What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?

I’m working on a poem series that uses parentheses as its only punctuation, a little like Notley’s Descent of Alette in form that way, very strict form. It’s about labor and survival via the vast private (internal) systems we invent for ourselves. The rules we make up, like if the lavender guy is at the farmers market the third time I go then I’ll spend $12 on a bundle of dried lavender–like that only makes sense to me, but I think everyone does this justification maneuver. Maybe I’ll call it This Justification Maneuver. Nah. The first four “episodes” were in the Poetry Project Newsletter last fall. And two poems inspired by Middlemarch are forthcoming in the next print issue of Prelude. Stay tuned!


d5debaa1-fb10-4c3e-a844-c89f1db278f6KRYSTAL LANGUELL was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (1913 Press, forthcoming 2016) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014), Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014), Fashion Blast Quarter (Flying Object, 2014), Diamonds in the Flesha collaboration w/ Robert Alan Wendeborn, (Double Cross Press, 2015), and a collection of interviews, Archive Theft (Essay Press, 2015).

Finance Director for Belladonna* Collaborative, she also publishes the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet. She was a 2013-2014 Poetry Project Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship recipient and a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace resident. She is employed by Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.