Jenn Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize) and Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Series, University of Arkansas Press). Her chapbooks include Lifeline (Glass Poetry Press) and Lieserl Contemplates Resurrection (dancing girl press). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, and The Pinch Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, AGNI, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, and The Kenyon Review. She is Editor-in-Chief at Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she lives with her family in New Mexico near the Sleeping Sister volcanoes.
Here, she talks about dreams of a taco tree, eating dysfunction, and how the best light is always pink.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I’ve been hesitant to answer because the meal that sticks was made by my ex’s nana – or rather, a compilation of her cooking. When I was sick, there would be caldo de rez, Mexican beef and vegetable soup. She taught me to make fish tacos, salsa, tortillas, tamales, and all kinds of foods my ex loved. I don’t cook them anymore. I eat all these things, yes, but don’t take the time to make them myself.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Pink behind the cottonwood trees in my backyard, filtered through purple curtains and a sliding glass door. At first I was thinking dinner, sometimes in bed, watching a movie with my family. and the sun is setting. But sometimes it’s also breakfast before everyone is awake and I’m trying to write but first I need coffee and oatmeal. Either way, the light is pink—as the best light always is.
On snacking while writing:
Dark chocolate (with almonds &/or sea salt), microwave popcorn, and tortilla chips (with or without salsa and if I’ve found any ripe at the grocery store, avocados. I need an avocado tree and a lemon tree, and a taco tree would be extraordinary but I digress).
On late-night snacking:
I’m usually sick at the end of the day. Sigh. But if I’m well, I love anything sweet.
On her food quirks:
I have an eating dysfunction so most of my food habits are quirky.
On her final meal request:
I’ve forgiven myself my obsession with food and my sickness. And I’m eating tacos by the tree-full on a colorful veranda, bright oranges and of course that pink light, with everyone I’ve ever loved but most especially Andrew.