10+ QuEsTiOnS! with Andrew K. Peterson

by Laurin Macios | May 2016

Andrew K. Peterson was featured at Mass Poetry's very first U35 reading in May 2014. // 10+ Questions! is a new series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming. 

It's been two years. What's new in life?
Oh, you know, the BASH Reading Series, Mr. Hip Presents, and T.T. the Bear’s Place are all gone. Same old hopes and fears still at my side.  

What are you working on these days?
I wish I could say I’ve been contemplating my new book of poetry to be printed in simple type on old brown paper, but mostly I’ve been re-watching old movies, binge-watching Netflix shows, and wandering around the MFA. I guess I could say I’m slowly unfolding around my current desire to write that next poem.  

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?  I’m trying for a lighter, leaner style, but what usually comes out is spontaneous lyric leaky mind mess. 

Who/what are you reading lately?
I’m so in awe of Eileen Myles’ vulnerable confidence (or is it confident vulnerability?) in Chelsea Girls. She’s no-bullshit honest, “feminine marvelous and tough,” as her friend Ted Berrigan said. I was excited to discover Eileen used to spend summers in Marshfield, my hometown. She has a story named “Marshfield,” about being young, and on vacation, the private sensualities of the salty air blowing through the yard. When I was growing up I never thought that a cool, modern poet passed through there. And then it turns out John Wieners lived next door in Hanover for a few years, too. I also just finished Wieners’ Supplication, the wonderful selected poems edited by CAConrad and all. Both of these books have had a big impact in the way I feel Boston, with our places and people and strong, sensual voices of dissent.  

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about? 
Spuyten Duyvil Press published my newest poetry book, called Anonymous Bouquet, in Fall 2015. I’ve been fortunate to do some readings in support, reading in front of some admittedly small – though by that I mean intimate, supportive – audiences in Boston, Brooklyn, Tempe, and Boulder. Also, I’m looking forward to the Boston Poetry Marathon, which is July 15-17. It’s a deliriously diamonds-and-pearls annual summertime poetry swoon-fest! Hope to see and hear you all there. 

And in the style of early 2000s email surveys...

What’s the last song you listened to?
Every summer I put together a mix of groovy 60s/70s AM-radio favorites, which brings me back to my childhood on Cape Cod beaches, eating sandy potato chips on a blanket with a transistor radio. This year we’re leading off with “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” by The Cowsills – it has some hauntingly gorgeous harmonized vocals. The band were all siblings – it’s been said that maybe the reason they sounded so good together is that they shared the same original practice space…

Are you a good dancer?
Some friends have coined a dance move of mine. First, you need to stand at the edge of a circle of other people on the dance floor. Next, bending at the waist, enter the circle, letting your arms propel you across the empty space, counter to your steps – slowly, slowly, everything slow– getting lower and lower as you cross. When you get to the middle of the circle, slip on a piece of ice and fall over, allowing the circle of watchers to dissolve and continue on with their dancing. It’s called “The Rumpelstiltskin.” So, to answer your question: no, I’m not. 

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store?
Recently I found a 1968 Jargon/Corinth edition of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems for a dollar at the Brattle Bookstore’s alley sale. Stuffed inside were some newspaper clippings from the Boston Globe and Gloucester Daily Times from the day of Olson’s death, and reporting on his funeral. There was also a handwritten letter to the book’s previous owner, from some relatives who’d gifted him the book. They write about meeting Olson (“he has a huge laugh, and is a marvelous raconteur”), marvel at his shoe size and custom made suits, and relay Olson’s conspiracy theories about Gloucester’s 1932 Pigeon Cove Murders.  

 What’s your favorite flower?
In Portsmouth, New Hampshire there’s a trial garden at Prescott Park that has gorgeous colorful varieties planted among sculptures. My favorite is seeing everything together:

                       Light Melanie, Light Cabaret, Lavender Blush Light,|
                                   Light Kobi, Pale Persian Lilac,
                                             Turkish Rose, Rose Gold, Rose Dust,
                                                        Jolly Bee, Dingy Dungeon,
                                                                   Bazaar, Pharlap, Aztec Twilight
                                                     Lavender, Strong Red-Purple, Bonanza Harmony,
                                                          Copper Rose, Mauve Taupe, Venus, Bee Balm,
                                                                  Vietnamese Mauve, Sparkle Scarlet,
                                                                              Silver Magic, Light Cosmic, Bulgarian Rose,
                                                                   Deep Tuscan Red, Deep Liver, Dark Puce,
                                                       French Puce, Rose Ebony, Purple afterglow

Rain or sun? Mountains or ocean?
One following the other. 


Sunshine Umbrella

We’re in a band called Sunshine Umbrella write our symphony by chance assembly of ants wandered across blank music pages lured with a dummy picnic basket of sauces and vinegar loathed by critics hailed by The Occupations of Loneliness you will shred on uke be the soundtrack to teenage petting travel upper Mongolia open an eponymous coffee shop be forgotten and remembered have lovers and misadventures die in a van fire come back as ants and meet then in a swimming pool of an inverted umbrella tossed away from the picnic after summer rain so hello again banana hello HELLO from this umbrella in the sun loops of our own music we’ve been singing this whole time

About this poem
Do you ever make up fake band names, and then imagine their sound and mythology?