6 Questions We Always Ask: Katrina Vandenberg, poet

Nothing makes me happier than when we have the opportunity to feature an author who lives and teaches in Minnesota and whose latest book is coming out from a Minnesota press. In this case we have poet Katrina Vandenberg who teaches at Hamline and whose latest poetry collection The Alphabet Not Unlike the World was published in May by Milkweed Editions.

This is Katrina’s second collection. Her first, Atlas, was also published by Milkweed. You can go see Katrina read at 7 p.m. tomorrow night (that’s June 27) at The Loft, 1011 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis. Today you can read her answers to our 6 questions.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
John D’Agata’s anthology The Next American Essay Re-reading Maggie Nelson’s Bluets — lyric essay or long poem? who can say? — which I love. My student Kyle recently said he’s not sure where poetry ends and lyric essay begins, and I have to say he’s right, and that I find that line exciting.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Who?
When I was eleven I so deeply loved the relationship between Leslie and Jess in Bridge to Terabithia that for years after, I tried to write to life a relationship between myself and an imaginary boy. Does a guy you made up count?

If your favorite author came to Minnesota, who would it be and what bar would you take him/her to?
Margaret Atwood said that wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté, and from what I know about some of my favorite writers, she’s probably right. Though John Keats on the patio at W.A. Frost could be nice.

What was your first favorite book?
Charlotte’s Web is still a favorite for its clean sentences and last line: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” And for the time that Templeton the Rat, when asked to find a word that describes Wilbur, comes back with a crumpled magazine page bearing the word “Crunchy.”

Let’s say Fahrenheit 451 comes to life, which book would you become in order to save it from annihilation?
As many as I could. But I’d start with the Book of Job in the King James, one of the oldest and most poetic texts I know about trying to get one’s head around injustice and why people suffer.

What is one book you haven’t read but want to read before you die?
I’d like to read all of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, if only to stop my husband making fun of me for still being on page thirty-five of Swann’s Way. We have a baby now, so for multiple reasons, I hope the date of my death isn’t any time soon.

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