10+ QuEsTiOnS! with Charlotte Seley

by Laurin Macios | July 2016

Charlotte Seley was featured at Mass Poetry's second U35 reading in July 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?
Not much. I still live in Providence, still read for Ploughshares, still freelance writing. I've been working at Hasbro as a Brand Writer which is pretty cool. Their toy shop is a huge source of “what I've been doing.” I acquired Yahtzee and play it at least once a week.

What are you working on these days?
I have two folders on my desktop of two separate ideas that I've been kicking around as chapbook manuscripts. Most days, they remain folders on a computer, but I swear I'll get around to polishing them up some day. For a while, I became really obsessed with selfie poems. Selfies in different places, selfies of other people, the meaning of selfies, historical selfies. It seems relevant but by the time I pull it together, we'll probably find a new means of portraiture. I'm not as fast as technology. 

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
My poetry has always been very emotional, reactive, neurotic, and chaotic. If anything, I'm trying to find order in my poems without imposing limits. But I don't think much has changed. I still have the same central preoccupations.

Who/what are you reading lately?
I've been carrying around the latest Jennifer L. Knox with me, Days of Shame and Failure. I bought it when it came out but I haven't read it yet. This is most likely because I love her so much. I'll be so bummed when I burn through the book and there's no more poems to read. 

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about? 
I'll be reading at the Boston Poetry Festival this year, which is July 15-18 in Cambridge. This is one of my favorite local poetry events and I am SO EXCITED to be a part of it. And I have four poems published in Issue 15 of Barrelhouse, the Riots Issue.

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

What’s your favorite animal & why?
Elephants. They're amazing creatures

What’s the last song you listened to?
“I Feel Extra-Natural” by LVL UP.

If you could spend next year living in the setting of any book, TV show, or movie, where would you choose and why?
Gilmore Girls because duh. Lorelai and Luke are amazing; there's an abundance of coffee; and nothing too terrible ever really happens in Stars Hollow.

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store?
A misshapen coffee mug, in the form of a can that had been crushed on someone's forehead. It said, “I got smashed in Oklahoma.”

Pancakes or eggs?
Eggs! Pancakes are a waste of carbs.

Is there a poetic form you feel strongly about? Love, hate?
I used to think golden shovels were obnoxiously pretentious but I've grown to really love them. They're a lot of fun, especially when you're stuck/have writer's block.

What’s your favorite flower?
Peonies. I don't really care for the way they smell but they're like the golden ratio of flowers.



Beard Island, Population: 1                                      

When I woke, your beard said:                

This is not a beard                 

—all mystery unfurled.

Your beard is the fortress surrounding your mouth, the abyss
I must not fall into (if I fall in I’ll be doomed),         
             an electric blanket with a skeleton of rusty wires,                                         
                                     a small flitter of spangles
                         dusting the sidewalks in a snowglobe.
I tease out the tangled thicket
            with canine dentures and damaged sea shells.                                                          
It’s only as coarse as snow is massive
collected on the ground in quantity.
Your beard’s a cocoon for lucid dreams,
           where the television Yule log feels hot                                              
                       to the touch and hazy.
The gate of tiny fishhooks where all the hairs curve
            up, parachutes hanging off blimps and clouds.
Your beard’s curlicues are springboards in the mattress
            left on the curb, tagged in marker and graffiti—
                        flotsam of a college town’s moving day.
An island of abundance, miles of scratchy Astroturf,
           a thousand florets I crawl into sometimes,                                        
                       lay thin against a follicle,
                                     hide from uproarious bears.

~ first published in The Knicknackery, Issue 2