5 Questions with Matthew Zapruder, Author of STORY OF A POEM: A Memoir

Apr 18, 2023

Matthew Zapruder  is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Father’s Day, from Copper Canyon, as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose. He is editor at large at Wave Books, where he edits contemporary poetry, prose, and translations. From 2016-7 he held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He teaches at Saint Mary’s College of California and served as guest editor for Best American Poetry 2022. He currently lives in Northern California’s Bay Area.

Matthew Zapruder will be celebrating the release of his new book STORY OF A POEM: A MEMOIR published by Unnamed Press on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. PST in Kerouac Alley, between Broadway and Grant Avenues, between City Lights and Vesuvio Cafe. Rebecca Handler will join him in conversation. Admission is free to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. This event will not be broadcast live, but an audio recording will be made to be posted on our podcast site.

Where are you writing to us from?

The East Bay, Northern California, Ohlone land.

What is bringing you joy right now, personally/artistically/habitually?

I don’t know if this is joy precisely, but I have been writing poems again for the past months since I finished the prose book, and remembering once again how singular and intense that experience is with language. I think, yes, I will call that joy.

Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?

So many. I am looking at my shelf right now and seeing (from right to left) prose works by Cathy Hong, Claudia Rankine, Paisley Rekdal, Diane Di Pima, Eula Biss, Celia Paul, Emmanuel Carrére, May Sarton, Eileen Myles, Ada Calhoun, Gerald Stern, Vivian Gornick, Sarah Schulman, Christopher Sorrentino, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Bob Hass. Those are just the books I can see. In the book I write about a lot of poets, but especially James Tate, Audre Lorde, Federico Garcia Lorca, Li Bai, Paul Celan, Isamu Noguchi, and W.S. Merwin.

What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others?

I just finished Hernan Diaz’s Trust, which I recommend to everyone. Same goes for Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still, which I just started. I’m very much looking forward to Sara Nicholson’s new book of poetry, April, from The Song Cave.

If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

It would be in a little cabin in the forest by a river. A short walk to the ocean. During good weather open windows to admit light and wildflowers. In the cold a wood fireplace. The bookstore would be open by invitation only. The best seller would also be the name of the store: Lost Domain Books.

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