The Gull and the Bell Tower by Kari Flickinger
1- How did you get your book trailer?
The amazing folks at Femme Salvé Press put together the trailer on my behalf. Amanda did ask for my input regarding the music, but they put in so much work into the marketing materials, and I am so grateful for their direction, and talents.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Learn to ask questions you think you know the answer to. Remember to listen for the answers.
3- What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?
Having professors ask me “what does this mean” with such frequency helped me realize that my struggle toward clarity was a lifelong one. Writing advice is useful if it targets one of your personal problem areas, so I think finding the right advice starts with asking the right question. Sit down with a sentence and ask yourself “what does this mean?” Pretend the sentence is circled in red pen. Take it apart. What does each piece mean? What does it mean in a different order? What does it mean personally and globally? Your reader is making meaning, you should too.
4- How is your cat handling the trials and tribulations of 2020?
My darling little Bear chews on everything. He chewed a dent in a dvd reader the other day. We have neighbors on all sides, so the ambient sound of people in their homes is substantial. Sometimes, he paces and screams “hello” and I usually take that as an indication that he wants me to leave. So, I get in my car and drive around in circles for a few hours. When I return, he likes me again, and naps on my arm. We accommodate reciprocal neurosis.
5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with your cat?
6- What most draws you to writing poetry?
Poetry gives me parameters for dismantling and cohesion, and I really appreciate that. I don’t think I would be able to express myself without poetry. It’s not food, and it doesn’t supply food. But it addresses the needs that are further up the pyramid, sometimes.
7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
My twitter handle is: @kariflickinger Shoutouts: @BooksFemme @AmandaMWrites @ehoranpoet @bethgordonpoet
8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
@moes_books I like the Moe’s Books (Berkeley) account. People should buy books from them.
9- What most motivates you to read a new book?
I buy my liquor according to the art design of the label. I really like to touch books and bring them home and write all over them. Obsession usually motivates me to seek out a specific book. I was writing these poems about sea snakes and global warming, I have been working on them for a few years, and I bought a book about reading water, and an obscure book about a specific sea snake. I make my own weird systems of annotation. I just get overcome by ideas sometimes. So, I buy books because I’ve got to know more, which is not remarkable. I don’t often part with books, though. Because sometimes I find the trail again, and I need the dots to remember.
10- It's our tenth anniversary! How far has your writing come in the past ten years and where do you see your writing career ten years from now?
I am worse at embodying voices other than my own. I am a little better with empathy in my own life. Maybe that give and take are related.
11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
There are so many good books to read in this phenomenal writing community, there is no way to boil it down to one. When I try, I go on too long. Some forthcoming books I am so excited for: Grim Honey by Jessica Barksdale / At First & Then by Danielle Rose Here is a list of a few books I loved:
Author name: Carlo Rovelli @carlorovelli
Title: The Order of Time
Love because: I am a poet, not a physicist, by any means, (though I had lunch with a bearded physicist and his bicycle in a crowded cafe at UC Berkeley one day.) But time, the passage of time, the music of time, how we subsist beyond ourselves with our works, these are some of my greatest passions. And Rovelli writes like a poet. I was transfixed by this text which presents material that could be difficult to understand in a way that makes it something we can better grasp. But beyond that, our reading this text makes us better grasp our sense of self in this world. Near the end, there was a quick-successive reminder of each lesson we had learned, and then a philosophical expansion based in the personal. Or the flashback as one might face the tunnel. The book ushers us into death so gently, one hardly realizes they've passed through not just a set of markers of new knowledge, but the experience of letting that knowledge float outside of you as something you can grasp if you wish or let meander beside you, gently. It's a fullness, but also a lightness. It's a personal, profusive experience to read this book, and I would recommend it heartily to anyone.
12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?
I hope any readers feel something authentic. I don’t hope to pretend I have any understanding of how my words will be taken. I’ve spent a lot of time wading through theory of reader reception (both medieval and present-day,) but nothing can prepare you for the depth (either heavy or shallow) of a reader’s interest. I guess, I simply hope that readers feel.
13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
I hope people will read this swirling confusion and give themselves permission to breathe and fuck up and try again. It’s a phenomenal collection of failures that drive this non-narrative, but I still plow on.
14- What is the best writing tool, program, or reference book you've ever bought?
One of my favorite professors gifted me the Taschen Book of Symbols when I got into UC Berkeley. I read a lot of non-fiction books to learn about science / nature and I think that helps develop my writing. You can’t buy curiosity, but you can fuel curiosity by learning something weird.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
My answer here is a heavy one, and I hope this sentence serves as enough of a content warning.
This book explores my struggles with mental and physical health. I have fibromyalgia and experience migraines. When I was studying at university, I began medication for the migraines when they escalated to the point that I was experiencing full migraines every few days and a low-level headache that stayed constant. The medication I was prescribed and the rigorous unending studies / constant digging-up of unprocessed traumas as a lit major caused my (at the time undiagnosed) bipolar to throw me into chaos. I rapid-cycled for over a year. I was in my thirties, and I had no idea what was happening to me; because I was undiagnosed, I didn’t believe there was anything beside myself to cause this behavior. I stopped eating because I was ill all the time, became increasingly paranoid, and I walked into busy traffic one day. I lost eighty pounds altogether during my time at Berkeley. This book shows glimmers of my mental health issues as they compound in grief. Time shifts. There are pushes and pulls—the voicing morphs. All of this is intentional. I am showing what it is like to not trust yourself, or the people around you. On the surface these are love poems, but they are doing more work than that if you scrutinize them. They show the fractures. I hope that people will read these and feel a sense of empathy or care for people who struggle with mental health issues in their lives. I am not saying it is an excuse, but I am saying that most people know the chaos they are causing and have no mechanism to stop the works once they’re in motion.
16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?
I really enjoy The Poetry Question. They feature such a wide array of reviews of all types from so many different writers. Plus, they share these wonderful Power of Poetry essays which delve into artistic statements of all kind. I believe they recently added a few new columnists, so I am excited to see what new insights and voices that brings to their offering.
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
The press that first accepted this manuscript folded because of the misconduct of a new editor. I ultimately had to pull the manuscript and was heartsick. But I couldn’t have hoped for a better situation than the one I have experienced with the press who picked up the book. Femme Salvé Press is a new small press who heard my story and approached me. They put so much energy and care into what they are doing and I am really grateful.
18- Which author, past or present, do you feel most resembles your work?
I think I have emulated a lot of the artists I have read in order to learn their tricks. But I have never quite landed on any of them. Once, a man followed me into a café in Berkeley where he excitedly assured me that I was Janis Joplin. I think there might be something there. Maybe Lorine Niedecker or Leonora Carrington?
19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?
I will give you a writing exercise, instead. I want you to take a recent sentence you have written and ask yourself “what does this mean?” Then write another sentence that answers that in some way. (Form doesn’t matter here, use it or don’t. However, you think writing into the world.) Share it if you’d like or keep writing it for yourself.
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
The book is dedicated to two entities I loved, who died. I miss Jo’s memorial in “I Will Miss Your Memorial”. Oscar is mentioned in “I Grow Numb”. The last line of the book is a reference to “Under Pressure”.
The Gull and the Bell Tower
In her stunning debut collection, Kari Flickinger maps the elemental displacement of trauma and heartbreak through a journey of triumphant reclamation of the self. These delicate, but complex poems interrogate and redefine the dimensions of love. This collection is for anyone who is ready to change the way they view themselves in their world, and to restore and fearlessly embrace their identity.
Obtain your copy here: https://femmesalvebooks.net/the-gull-and-the-bell-tower-by-kari-flickinger/
Visit my website to keep up with my work: http://kariflickinger.com
The Gull and the Bell Tower by Kari Flickinger