10+ QUESTIONS! WITH CURTIS PERDUE

by Laurin Macios | October 2016

Curtis Perdue was featured at Mass Poetry's U35 reading in October 2014. // 10+ Questions! is a series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming.

It's been a while! What's new in life?
A lot! Since I read in the fall of 2014, my wife and I purchased a house and closed last September, we married a month later, got a pit bull puppy in February, and welcomed a baby girl to the world on July 28th! As hectic as that all sounds, it’s been a beautiful, fulfilling year. I’ve loved transitioning into the role of a husband and father.

I have traveled quite a bit as well. Last summer I visited London for the first time and spent a few days in Amsterdam as well. Then I visited my brother who lives in Colorado. My wife and I had an awesome honeymoon in Ventura, CA, surfing and kayaking and booze hopping in Santa Barbara. Two of my best friends got married and I was the officiant for one of them.

Since January I have been a Teach Plus Policy Teaching Fellow, a year and half paid fellowship. Teach Plus is a non-profit that empowers teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. I was working on a campaign to vote NO on a ballot initiative that was going to be voted on in November, but we recently found out the way the question was worded was unconstitutional. Therefore it was struck down. So I will be moving on to other policy issues soon.

What are you working on these days?
Right now I am working on revising and editing my first manuscript, The Weather Anchored in Us, which will be published by H_NGM_N books sometime next year! It was chosen along with one other manuscript during their open reading period. I have been rereading, revising, moving poems around, swapping old poems out for new ones, and sending it to friends. I’ll also be sending some of the poems that haven’t been published out to journals, so I am getting organized for that.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
I have always had a hard time talking about my poems. To me, they don’t seem too different. I’ve always liked experimentation, whether with language or form, so I try out new things from time to time, and occasionally things work. I would say the poems in my book from grad school are less mature when it comes to voice and vision compared to poems I wrote last year. But who knows? I usually rely on my friends and readers to tell me what’s going on because they are more objective.

Who/what are you reading lately?
As I am working on my manuscript I have been reading Wallace Stevens’s collected poems. Recently I have been reading Bianca Stone’s Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, which is a beautiful book that will shipwreck your heart, and Alex Phillips’s Unkindness.  I am also ping-ponging between some non-fiction: The New Jim Crow and Pitbull. The latter is not about the singer, rather the evolution of how the breed came to be feared and its connection with race and class in America. It’s quite fascinating and well-researched.

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
Just my first book which I already mentioned. No new publications and no readings. I will be planning some regional readings for next year to promote the book.

AND IN THE STYLE OF EARLY 2000S EMAIL SURVEYS...

Rain or sun?
Depends. Growing up in Miami, I’ve always loved the sun. It rains a lot, especially in the summer. Living in Boston, it’s nice to have a rainy day after tons of sun. I really miss thunderstorms. And one of my favorite things is surfing in the rain. So I guess I’m kind of split.

Beach or mountain?
Definitely beach, but I don’t go to the beach for the whole day. If I am not surfing, I usually only stay at the beach for an hour or two.

What’s the last song you listened to?
It was either the acoustic version of “Knights” by Minus the Bear or whatever the last song on City and Colour’s latest album is. Since the baby, I’ve had a really hard time remembering things.

What are your current top 5 favorite books of any genre?
The Sun Also Rises
Geography by Elizabeth Bishop
The Dream Songs
The House on Mango St
Van Gogh’s Letters

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store?
An antique, convertible sewing machine console/table that we now use as our bar.

What’s a word you hate?
Plethora. And myriad, because most people use it incorrectly.

Pancakes or eggs?
Pancakes, but I eat so many damn eggs because they are easier to cook.

What’s the longest you’ve ever waited in line, and what was it for?
I really only wait in lines at amusement parks, so probably a few hours at most.

What’s your favorite flower?
I love so many flowers. Hibiscus. Frangipani. Birds of Paradise. Heliconia.

A NEW POEM:

Here are a couple poems with a video of me reading them.

About the poems
I was inspired by an article in National Geographic about where old cargo vessels go to die and be dismantled.