National Poetry Month: Q&A with Michelle Chan Brown
Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2011 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, Witness and others. A Kundiman fellow, Michelle received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Fellow. She was a Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference. Her chapbook, The Clever Decoys, is available from LATR Editions. She lives with her husband, the musician Paul Erik Lipp, in Washington D.C., where she teaches, writes, and edits Drunken Boat.
1. What does it mean to you to be a poet in/from our nation’s capital?
I can claim semi-native status in D.C., and I’m energized, puzzled, excited, befuddled, and curious about the city’s changes (landscape, mood) since my 80’s/90’s childhood here.
I veer between cynicism and optimism. I see a city that’s wrestling, actively with its identity, especially as a cultural center. I’m intrigued that bureaucracy/art isn’t a binary here anymore, especially as I bike/run through neighborhoods like Shaw and Bloomingdale, and I’m grateful for the places that have remained—P&P, for one.
2. Name one other poet who has influenced you profoundly and why.
I’m influenced by any poet that combine philosophical rigor with syntax and sound as emotional conduits: Plath, Thylias Moss, Darcie Dennigan, Srikanth Reddy.
3. Recommend one print and one online publication you think everyone should read this month.
There are so many beautiful, challenging, and innovative journals online—difficult to choose! I’m Poetry Editor of Drunken Boat, which is doing some outstanding new folios and always presents work that combines experimentation with accessibility with a sense of poetics beyond the U.S. Others: The Collagist, Better, Phantom Limb, diode, Diagram, Lana Turner, POOL…
I’d also recommend Beltway Poetry Quarterly—Kim Roberts curates excellent work with a D.C. bent.