Rosebud Ben-Oni with Jen Fitzgerald

Rosebud Ben-Oni and Jen Fitzgerald
Rosebud Ben-Oni and Jen Fitzgerald

On her website, native New Yorker Jen Fitzgerald describes herself as a poet and essayist who “comes from a place that is lawless. Her family has been there for 200 years and refuses to integrate into normal society… Vivaldi gives her goosebumps as do some Jay-Z songs. She is proud to be a poet of witness and class activist.” Her first full collection The Art of Work is now out from Noemi Press. Here, we discuss the influences of her family, the rights of the worker and why she believes “[l]ife is the greatest art project.”

Rosebud Ben-Oni: In your long poem Last Totem of Tradesmanship, you explore the art of butchery as a trade that propel[s] the human engine/ forward and the rigorous labor involved with pulling a “knife body down/ the hung body,// ridging along ribs/ to remove flank steak. You also explore the relationship between worker and customer whom are no constant;/ a slideshow of flipped/ faces on repeat as well as the economics of salary cuts,/ store managers, about the bullshit //folks eat to stay fed. You explore similar images in The Killing Floor is Slick. I can taste the blood in the collection as a whole— it pulses on the page, carrying purple veins/scarlet muscle and “the history of necessity;/ hunt, fire, communion. Can you discuss the peculiar communion in more detail?

Kate Greenstreet with Megan Kaminski

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Megan Kaminski

Kate Greenstreet interviews Megan Kaminski about her writing life and her second book, Deep City, out in October on Noemi Press.

Kate Greenstreet: We’ve been friends for a while but I realize I don’t know: how long have you been writing poetry?

Megan Kaminski: While I have always loved reading literature—from reading Little House on the Prairie as a kid to falling in love with Shakespeare and Faulkner in high school to studying poetry as an English lit major in college—I didn’t start writing poems until I was in my second year as an undergraduate. I was very busy playing sports (field hockey and track) in high school and then college, and I never really considered myself a creative person. But one day in class, during a discussion of Emily Dickinson, my professor took me aside. Somehow she saw something in me that I didn’t yet see in myself; she assumed that I was a poet and suggested that I take a poetry workshop in the department the following semester. I was too shy (and flattered) to tell her otherwise, so I signed up for the workshop and wrote my first poem. I’ve been writing poems ever since.