The Na/GloPoWriMo Interview with Kate Greenstreet

Kate Greenstreet’s fourth book of poetry, The End of Something, was recently released by Ahsahta Press. The book forms part of a series along with Case Sensitive, The Last 4 Things, and Young Tambling, also published by Ahsahta.

1. Why did you start writing poetry? Why do you still?

I started writing poetry seriously about 18 years ago. I had an overwhelming urge. I’m not actually writing poems now.  I am keeping a notebook but I don’t know what the notes are going to turn into.

2. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve gotten? The worst?

In 2002, I took a workshop with Jean Valentine. Across the street from the 92nd Street Y (where the workshop was happening) there was a luncheonette or something where she met with each student separately for a consultation. I remember her saying, as she made a small circular gesture on the tabletop with her index finger, “Get around a little bit.”

I don’t remember getting any bad advice. If I did, I didn’t take it.

3. How did your new book come into being? 

My new book developed slowly over four and a half years. Somewhere along the way, I realized I was making a conclusion to my previous three books, which is one reason why it’s called The End of Something.

4. Is there a generative prompt, practice or ritual that you find particularly helpful, or that you would recommend to students, friends, or other poets?

One time I heard Stanley Kunitz say, “Poets listen for their poems.” For me, that’s the most obvious true thing about writing poetry: you listen for it, and when you hear it, you write it down.


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