The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Gabrielle Calvocoressi, our Senior Poetry Editor. 

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been with LARB since the beginning. Matthew Specktor took me to coffee at Joan’s and started telling me about Tom Lutz and Evan Kindley and the dream of a major arts and culture magazine that looked at the literary world from our Western perch.

Claudia Rankine and I were brought on to be the poetry editors. I still have to pause and get over my amazement when I write that last sentence. Anyway, for the first couple years Claudia and I worked on the poetry section together and then I became Senior Poetry Editor. I couldn’t have done it without Evan and Claudia. It’s also been wonderful to get to build this world of poems, a hothouse of poetic minds blooming. [Read today’s roundtable discussion of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, featuring Carmen Giménez Smith, Mark Nowak, Ruth Ellen Kocher, and Nicky Flynn.]

When I’m not in the hothouse I’m working on my third book of poems, Rocket Fantastic as well as a nonfiction project called The Year I Didn’t Kill Myself. I left LA in 2013 to teach at UNC Chapel Hill. LA’s still home, though.

Talk about a book you read this year you’d recommend – could be recent or old, well-known or unknown. As long as you read it this year and you think it’s worth reading. 

I’m reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform, and CA Conrad’s ECODEVIANCE (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness. It’s a litany I highly recommend. I think a lot in our poetry section about building a world that considers poems and poetics and also the lives of poets. What are the various pressures poets are facing in their everyday lives? How does a poet’s access to healthcare, gainful employment, a decent living situation affect their ability to make their most essential work? Each of these books challenge us to consider systems of power and our own complicity in the bounties and profound inequities of the world. I’m learning a lot and it’s helping me think about where our section will go next. We’re going to start a radio channel and also do a number of other projects that really dig deeply into the inner workings of poetry in these United and otherwise States. I’m grateful to Tom and Evan and my wonderful editors Joshua Rivkin and Elizabeth Metzger for all of their help and support in my endless dreaming.

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