About Sandra Marchetti
Sandra’s debut full-length collection of poems, Confluence, is forthcoming out on Sundress Publications. Eating Dog Press published an illustrated book of her essays and poems in the summer of 2014. Sandy was named the winner of the 2011 Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest for her volume, The Canopy, available from Midwest Writing Center Press. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Ohio State’s The Journal, Phoebe, The Hollins Critic, Sugar House Review, Subtropics, Thrush Poetry Journal, Green Mountains Review, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. Mid-American Review, The Rumpus, Words Without Borders, and other fine magazines have featured Sandy’s prose. She received her MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from George Mason University in 2010 and currently teaches writing at Aurora University, just outside of Chicago.
Sam: Can you tell me a little bit about Confluence (Sundress Publications, March 2015)?
Sandra Marchetti: Well, Confluence is the book I wrote while away from the Midwest for the first time. I’m a poet who is tied to place, and when I moved to Virginia I found I missed home terribly. I missed our horizon lines, that limitlessness of sky. I also wrote some of this book when I moved back, and as I fell in love with my now husband. The book is about seeing things with new eyes, the eyes of the lover, and the eyes of longing. This answer may seem cliché, but it’s true. In addition to this, there are a lot of surreal influences and some homages to writers I love such as Annie Dillard, Elizabeth Bishop, and Octavio Paz. Contrary to Harold Bloom’s ideas, I seem to want to marry my poetic mothers and fathers, rather than divorce them.
S:What drove you to write this book (or if there are specific poems that come to mind)?
SM: I’m probably not the only one who feels this way, but every couple of years I write what I think is the best poem I will ever compose. Over the years, I have come to realize that my best poem is always ahead of me, but I still cling to a few examples of my work as “the best.” Confluence really began to take shape when I wrote “Pastoral,” which appears near the book’s end. The collection began to feel finished when I wrote “Never-Ending Birds” about three years later. These poems are somewhat similar–they’re both heavily sonic place-based lyrics–and they are like bookends. I knew I could build a collection between what happens in the summer of “Birds” and the winter of “Pastoral.” It’s just ironic that these two pieces were written in reverse order.
S:What are five adjectives you would use to sum up the work?
SM: If you read my poems, you know I like verbs. So I am going to be totally subversive and verb this question around. Here I go: slip, sway, strain, sing, see.
S:What drink would you say best characterizes the work? You don’t have to name a specific brand (unless you want to). I’m looking for an answer like beer, wine, bourbon, vodka, coffee, et cetera.
SM: I am a beer lover, but I’m not sure beer best characterizes this work! I have a passion for true German wheat beers, such as Weihenstephaner or Tucher Helles Hefeweizen. These may appeal to the summer season that’s described in the work. The winter season might be best mirrored in my love of Belgian quads. Probably my favorite is Ommegang’s Three Philosophers, or for something stricter to tradition, Trappistes Rochefort 10. I would like to believe a quad could characterize my work: mysterious as blue hour fading into night, and a bit sweet but moreso raisiny. A true quad is not quite hard liquor, but strong enough to knock the car keys out of your hand. (I’m also a coffee lover, preferring Ethiopian, Nicaraguan, and Columbian beans, but what writer doesn’t love a strong cup of “the black nectar of the gods,” as my husband calls it.)
S: You like making cocktails yourself and you have made a drink for this book already. Care to share the recipe and how it came about?
SM: Absolutely! I wrote an entire essay on how the first Confluence cocktail, The Confluence Pamplemousse, came about. You can read it here. If you scroll down, the drink recipe is at the bottom of the page:
But here’s an excerpt that most directly answers your question:
“My press, Sundress Publications, asked me to create a signature cocktail to pair with Confluence. The brilliant force behind Sundress, Erin Elizabeth Smith, thought a book of cocktail recipes might be a fun giveaway for the upcoming AWP Conference. My husband and I developed the concoction, which features reposado tequila, grapefruit juice, honey, and sparkling French lemonade. The drink has a sweet smokiness—it’s ripe and full of primal flavors, a mingling of warm and cool settings.”
S: What are you working on now?
SM: I am glad you asked! After Confluence found a publisher, I spent a year writing nonfiction, and I am proud to say those essays have found homes at places like Words Without Borders and The Eastern Iowa Review. However, I am finally writing poems again. It’s a first for me, but I am actually working on two poetry projects concurrently. I’m about ten poems into each collection, so I’m not sure yet what either will end up looking like. As it’s baseball season, I’ll mention that the first is a book of poems that catalogues my experiences and memories, and my father’s memories, of watching the Chicago Cubs and visiting Wrigley Field. We’re both die-hard fans and season ticket holders, and this is a book I have wanted to write for a long time. To put that in perspective, I wrote my first poem about the Cubs in 1998, while I was in 8th grade. I had just attended the one-game playoff they lost to the Atlanta Braves. These new ones are a bit more polished (!), and are forthcoming in Southwest Review, Blackbird, Split Lip, and elsewhere.
I am also writing poems that take on the idea of poetic influences and imitations. Can imitations be serious poems? I think so. Poets like Edward Hirsch, Mark Strand, Li-Young Lee, and Louise Glück are real presences in these pieces,which each contain another poet’s name, line, or book/poem title. I’m pretty happy with how those poems are turing out so far, and you can find them (either now or soon) in Word Riot, Appalachian Heritage, and Still: The Journal.
Inspiration: With a word like Pamplemousse to live up to, I couldn’t just name this cocktail something pedestrian. Cut to a number of searches on Google for interesting words. A pettifogger is (aside from a funny word) “an inferior legal practitioner, especially one who deals with petty cases or employs dubious practices.” This has nothing to do with the drink, I just wanted to appropriate the name. Having a background in beer, I wanted to come up with something classy that, at the end of it, would make one think that a word like pettifogger was either a) the funniest thing in the world or b)a legitimate thing to bring up in conversation. In other words, it’ll be strong. Using Belgian-style beer and german schnapps, you’ll get blau in no time.
6 oz. Ommegang Three Philosophers
.5 oz. Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
.5 oz Himbeergeist (raspberry schnapps)
1 oz. Black Haus (blackberry schnapps)
Stir Kirschwasser, Himbeergeist, and Black Haus over ice. Strain half into the bottom of a pint glass. Pour 3 Philosophers in and float the remaining schnapps mix on top.