OBJECTS OF DERISION
AN INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH COHEN
If you were a character in a poem, how would you introduce yourself?
All angles and dark eyes,
she carries an unseen grin
and also heartburn.
Your chapbook BAD ANATOMY came out through Glass Poetry very recently (congratulations!); what are your heartlines in this chapbook? What is your favourite line (or lines) from your chapbook and why?
I wrote most of these poems during 2016/early 2017 when I was going through a difficult time in my life (dead-end job, loneliness, poor mental health), so anxiety and depression are obviously present throughout the chapbook. I also mention drinking and distance several times. So there’s that. But at the same time, there’s a lot of internal change and moving on sprinkled in there so it’s not all entirely sad.
I’m really fond of these two lines because I think they truly sum up the “feeling” of my chapbook:
“I myself am half-hell / and half-morning.”
“I think I get off / on rejection.”
As co-editor of Cotton Xenomorph & contributing editor for Platypus Press, you are very firmly in both the editing and writing worlds. Do you think this has an affect on your writing style or approach at all?
Absolutely! I think most of us write not only for ourselves, but for eventual publication. I prune and revise my work until I feel it’s absolutely near-perfect. As an editor, I almost always prefer a poem that’s written with clarity and has a unique opening line. I try to be kind with personal rejections. Knowing how to follow magazine submission guidelines always helps. You can always take more time to proofread and really look over your work before sending that email.
What does your writing process look like? Do you have a set schedule you like to keep to, or do you write when you can?
I work a (mostly) 9-5, Monday-Friday job in higher education so I write in the evenings and weekends. But when I travel for work or if I have time off or work in the evenings, I’ll try and write a few lines in my notebook. It’s mostly in short, concentrated bursts. I’ve never been one for schedules, but I respect writers who are strict about writing for X amount of hours a week.
I generally don’t listen to music when I write. Rather, I’ll have Netflix or Hulu playing an episode of some tv show in the background, or I go to my favorite coffee shop and write. I like the sounds and vibes of people talking and interacting. Makes me feel like I’m part of the world.
What or who do you turn to when you’re in need of inspiration, in need of refilling your creative well?
I listen to a lot of true crime/nerdy/comedy podcasts as a way to give my creative mind a break—my current favorites are Teen Creeps, Skytalkers, And That’s Why We Drink, and Wine & Crime. I also watch reality TV cooking shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen, because it’s so visual and I like seeing what people produce under pressure. In terms of writing, I find myself returning to the works of Sylvia Plath and WB Yeats, or I log onto Twitter and see what my friends are reading and retweeting.
And finally, can you tell me who & what you’re reading of late?
I just purchased a whole stack of poetry books (thanks tax refund!) so I’m enjoying the words of Chen Chen, sam sax, and Danez Smith. Novels I’ve read include Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties and We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge. I also recently finished the true crime classic The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule.