10+ Questions with Frances Kimpel

by Laurin Macios | February 2017

Frances Kimpel was featured at Mass Poetry's second U35 reading in March 2015. // 10+ Questions! is a series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming.

What’s new In life?
Upheaval, new beginnings. I’ve moved twice, first within the greater Boston area, and then across the country to my hometown, Tacoma, Washington. This latter move was painful and long-anticipated. I can’t rationally justify my attachment to the Pacific Northwest, but I know that the longer I stayed in the New England, the more I felt myself in exile. This despite the many great friends and collaborators I’d been working and living with in Boston: I miss them tremendously, and I am torn, but very happy to be home.

Like many, I have recently been devastated by current events. This did not come out of nowhere, but I’ve reached my tipping point. I am fighting, now, for what I love and what I value and what derives to exist. Unfortunately, this mode of existence is at odds with my creative process. I am realizing that if I cannot adapt my process to a world in flux, this fight will consume me. I am learning to live in edges.

What are you working on now?
Since the summer of 2015, I have been devoting most of my creative energy to a prose project, Cardhouse and the Cage, which re-imagines Faerie as the collective ‘dumping ground’ for the sentient excess of life on earth (eg unfulfilled dreams and wishes, fantasies, excess thoughts, memories, death). The plot follows four human girls ensnared by the glamorous promises and parasitical designs of fairy drug-lord. I do not know what form this piece will ultimately take: it may well be a novel, but I also mean to use it as an experiment in collaborative fiction. I am additionally working on a sequel to an original play that I premiered in the early spring of 2015, Annabel Lost, as inspired by the contributions of my lead actor and the fact that the ending never quite communicated everything I meant it to.

How has my poetry changed?
My poetry has not changed very dramatically since I read at U35, probably because I have been focusing on prose. I do like think that I have been making subtle improvement (my phrasing more limber and less awkward, perhaps). Some of my older work certainly reads as “immature” to my present eye.

Who/what are you reading lately?
The news, which I hate. I am also off and on reading Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping and Stone Gods (for the second time).

Any Major Publications, Readings, Etc
No. Most of my work has been in private or circulated solely amongst my friends. I do hope to make some poetry connections in Seattle soon.

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

Beach or mountain?
THE OCEAN (let me swim in it)

Rain or sun?
rain rain rain rain rain rain rain

Are you a good dancer?
Yes, especially in the rain.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
About 56 hours, freshman year, 0/10 do not recommend.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Decomposition. I want to be a god of alchemy and death: to know the secrets kept by mushrooms, to make a magic of decay.


A New Poem

Ghost Month

I am November: ghost-month, moth-month
bleak presage spinning gold to mud.

My industry is Nature’s own: observe
in me the marring of all things,
worm-hand of Evil

blighting the fruit of Good.

No place for November in undying lands:
(you’d skip me there: one Snowfall
on a bright September leaf)

What is it I bring in that you so fear?

What, after the harvest and the carnival and song,
What reaping both most brittle and most damp?

November, I: ghost-month, moth-month
bone-finger spinning wheat to dust.
 

About the Poem

Written in my first autumn back in the Northwest, this poem is most directly and superficially inspired by my love for the autumn, not only for the crisp apples and bright leaves (and don’t get me wrong: I live for apples), but also as a time of darkening and decay. In my experience, decay is not easy an easy thing for people to engage with. For me, one primary means of befriending it has been through poetry.