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Memory is that raccoon: An Interview with Author Nolcha Fox

A Good Book To End The Day had the pleasure of interviewing Nolcha Fox last year. A celebrated and inspirational poet whose radiance imbues each word with awe and joy. She is back now to talk about her most recent book of poetry, Memory is that raccoon.

To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was a toddler, one of my nicknames was Chatterbox. Even back then, it was clear that words were memorable and impactful.

Tell us about Memory is that raccoon and the inspiration behind the collection.

I wasn’t planning to compile, much less publish the book. Towards the end of December, the Managing Editor from Cyberwit.net contacted me to let me know he wanted to publish a book of my poems. When I responded I never sent him a manuscript, he told me he found my poems on my website, which is why he contacted me. (Lesson: Having a website and keeping it current is good!)

The poems came from writing prompts, images, life events, people-watching, and mostly imagination.

Do you have a favorite poem from the book? If so, which one is it, and why?

That’s a tough question. I have several favorites.

I laugh every time I read “Death serves me.” It’s a serious thought wrapped up in my weird sense of humor.

Death serves me

coffee and sits

at the table.

He points outside.

Those trees will

remain without you.

Want more cream?

I love the sentiment and strangely logical images of “He took off his skin:”

He took off his skin

and shook it out the window,

watched dandelions and cobwebs

float to the ground.

He washed it in the kitchen sink,

hung it on the clothesline

to dry in the sun.

He tsk-tsked at holes left

from sharp tongues

and rough fingernails,

sewed them closed

with an extra heartstring.

He folded it up

and laid it in the bag

of useless treasures

to be taken to Goodwill.

He pulled a thicker skin

from underneath the pillow,

shrugged it on,

and went about his day.

“Wish you” is a heart-tugger for me. My baby brother died about 22 years ago, and my father died 4 years ago. I thought of them when I wrote it:

Wish you

would walk with me again.

Miss you. Wish you

would pull the door wide open.

Let me hold you. And tell you

over coffee how the sunlight

is a halo ‘round your head.

Reconstitute. Come back.

You never liked the dark,

A grave is not the place

to hide your smile.

Miss you. Wish you

would tell me one more time

how much you miss me,

and wish me

your love.

What relationship do you have with your poetic mistakes?

I think much of my poetry is a mistake. There’s a graveyard in my backyard where I bury all the poems I think are awful. I’m really tough on myself, so I happily share the poems I’m not certain about with select others. I’m often surprised when people like what I’ve written, and those poems go on to be published.

Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?

I interview other writers and literary magazine editors. I’m waiting for the responses for one interview, and I’m waiting for background information to start another interview.

I’m working now on writing more poems, definitely for submitting to literary magazines, and maybe for another collection.

What advice would you give to aspiring poets?

I learned these tips from John Yamrus. Do one thing every day (writing a poem or submitting a poem, taking classes, etc.). And don’t be afraid to get rid of poems you can’t make work.

My own advice is to form a community of other writers, and support community members by sharing their work on social media, offering constructive advice, and even offering to do book reviews and interviews.

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