Vending Machine Press Presents Interview with Quinn White

What was your early life like? Where did you grow up?

I drove my kiddie four-wheeler around the neighborhood while listening to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” I didn’t realize the song was sexual. I liked the sound, the energy.

Geography, Alabama.


What made you want to write?

Fall, a yellow tree. I was around nine. I sat on the back porch that faced our little forest. The tree was so bright—I had to say something, record that moment, pay homage. I wrote a poem about it. My first poem.


What are your writing habits like? Are you always working on a story or poem?

Up around seven, coffee, write. I spend anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours on a poem. Then, unless laundry, cat, or email calls, I find places to submit fresh work.


Can you discuss your literary influences, or at least name some writers whose work you greatly admire?

Some of my favorite poets are Eavan Boland, Charles Simic, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Rae Armantrout, and Mahmoud Darwish.


How important is community amongst fellow writers, do you get along with other writers?

Community is important because it pulls. Like in The Little Mermaid when Ursula extracts the golden ball of Ariel’s voice. But in a good way.


If you haven’t already, do you think you will ever write a novel?

I don’t know. I’ve written chapbooks and full-length poetry collections. Never finished a short story.


Do you feel a sense of home? Is there a place like that to you?

Yes. Upstairs to the right is the room in which I work. Between two windows, my desk. Vines and fairy lights circle my ceiling. The walls are purple. On them hang paintings: a pig playing the ukulele, a boar dressed in a wedding gown, a calico cat. Also, a giant whiteboard.


Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions, before you start to write?

Yes. I am super superstitious. I don’t look at the Internet, watch TV, or talk to anyone before I write. I don’t even look at my computer until a thought sparks. The only parties welcome are other people’s poetry.


Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Yes and no. Depends on the content.


Are you a science fiction fan? If so what attracts you to the genre?

I’m not a fan of sci-fi literature. I enjoy SF movies and TV shows, though.


Do you think literature can help readers make sense of their lives?

Yes. For example, pigeons having sex. One wriggles on top of the other, flaps its wings, hops off. I saw them at it while I was in line for coffee. These pigeons could be last night’s fight with a friend, might remind someone of how their relationships do or don’t last, could be a lost job.

Literature helps readers make sense of their lives because it offers something that through its otherness reveals them to themselves.


How autobiographical are your stories/poems.

Very. Even the dog in love with a snowman, the singing jellyfish, the closet full of puppets.


I would be remiss if I did not ask. What are your favourite films and TV shows?

Some of my favorite films are The Godfather I and II; Ponyo; Bridget Jones’ Diary; Auntie Mame; Best in Show; The Women (1939 version); The Dark Knight; You Can’t Take it With You; Orlando; Mean Girls; Desk Set; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Nanny McPhee; and The Prince and the Showgirl.

Some of my favorite TV shows are Paddington Bear (1976-1987); The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack; Adventure Time; The Ren & Stimpy Show; Rocko’s Modern Life; Over the Garden Wall (2014); Curb Your Enthusiasm; Downton Abbey; and Louie.


Are you political? What do you think of the current political climate?

It’s complicated.


How do you hope your stories/poems will affect people? 

I hope people like them. Hope they hearten. When I’m wicked, though, I hope they confront readers, say look, look what you/they/I did.

Quinn White is the author of My Moustache (Dancing Girl Press, 2013) and Orienteering(Origami Poems Project, 2013). Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from journals such as The Healing Muse, Sixth Finch, and Amethyst Arsenic. Quinn earned her MFA from Virginia Tech. She lives in Alabama with her husband and their three cats.