10+ QUESTIONS with Will Dowd

by Laurin Macios | May 2017

Will Dowd was featured at Mass Poetry's second U35 reading in May 2015. // 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?
In the past two years, I’ve moved (though I’m still on the South Shore), endured a couple tedious surgeries (I can’t recommend crutches in winter), and launched my first art exhibit (while I’ve always made art, I’ve only recently allowed it to be seen by other humans). Most of my artworks incorporate words, so they don’t feel like such a departure from the writing.

What are you working on these days?
I have a few ongoing projects, including a series of broadsides on historical figures. Each broadside functions as a kind of microbiography—a brief match struck to illuminate a life. While most of the subjects are household names, I scour letters and journals in library basements to discover fresh shapes in previously ransacked lives. The stories are factually true and (hopefully) new to readers.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
Stranger and funnier, I hope.

Who/what are you reading lately?
I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Some recent ones include Sudden Death, by Álvaro Enrigue;
The Voice is All, by Joyce Johnson; Mr. Tall, by Tony Early, and H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. A recent poetry discovery: Katia Kapovich.

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
My first collection of essays, Areas of Fog, is coming out this November. I’ll be reading all over the place—follow me at willdowd.net.

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

What’s your favorite animal & why?
Red-tailed hawks because they’re good omens.

Rain or sun?
Sun.

Beach or mountain?
Beach.

What’s the last song you listened to?
According to my Youtube history: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, “1959.”

Are you a good dancer?
If I could dance, I wouldn’t bother with all this writing stuff.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
Five days, this past December. I felt like Donnie Darko.

If you could spend next year living in the setting of any book, TV show, or movie, where would you choose and why?
As an English major from a law enforcement family, I’d have to choose Sherlock Holmes —I’m pretty much qualified to solve crimes in Victorian London and that’s it.

What’s a habit you’re proud of breaking?
I used to throw away pocket change when drunk.

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store?
The exit.

What’s a word you hate?
“Warrior” or “worrier”—both murder to pronounce if you’re recovering from a Boston accent.

Pancakes or eggs?
Thanks, I’m good.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To resurrect the dead.

What’s the longest you’ve ever waited in line, and what was it for?
When the swine flu took Manhattan, I waited in a line of about 1000 students for the vaccine. I got the shot—and later, the flu.

What do you use more often, the dictionary or thesaurus?
I unwrapped a Roget’s Thesaurus on Christmas morning 1995 and I’ve never looked back.

Is there a poetic form you feel strongly about? Love, hate?
Villanelles give me hives.

What’s your favorite flower?
Twelve-foot sunflowers.

You’re stranded on a desert island but luckily you have these three things with you…
My journal, my inhaler, and my iPod, though I won’t say what’s on it—I’d rather people see me naked than see what’s on my iPod.

A New Poem

DIVE

Midwinter morning
a few regulars
draped over the bar
dead Irish poets
on the wall
when the bartender
asks what I am
I tell him
a ghost writer
I don’t tell him
about the couple
of good poems
I keep creased
in my wallet
like the baby pictures
of grown children
who no longer speak to me
I don’t tell him
it’s been years since
automatic doors
whooshed open for me
he looks puzzled
a ghost rider?
like the guy with
the flaming skull?
yes I say
that’s me

About the Poem
Usually you have to wrestle a poem into being, but sometimes one just falls in your lap.