An Interview with Sandra Anfang

Hello, dear readers! It’s been a crazy week and we’re behind, but we’ve got another author interview for you. Today, we’re talking to Sandra Anfang. Frequent contributor to Unbroken, we love Sandra’s style. I like the way Sandra brings a simple scene to life with clear language and strong imagery. Her work has appeared in several issues of Unbroken, and we nominated Sandra’s beautiful Tuesday for the Best Small Fictions. Be sure to check out Sandra’s work in our Issue 2 (March/April 2015),  Issue 3 (May/June 2015), and Issue 4 (July/August 2015). And watch for more in our upcoming issue  8 in March.

RLB: Sandra, I’m so happy  you agreed to talk to us about the prose poem. We always like to know, what attracts you to prose poetry?

SA:  I’ve been attracted to prose poetry since I entered a flash fiction contest about eight or ten years ago and won first place. I had to look up the term “flash fiction” because I didn’t know what it meant. I think flash fiction and prose poetry are fraternal twins. They’re alike and different at the same time. Prose poetry differs from more typical, short-lined poetry for me in its impetus. It carries a different energy charge, like a small tornado, and the delivery and crafting of a prose poem feels very different, process-wise for me than more traditional forms of poetry.

RLB: Which brings me to my next question. What is your process for writing a prose poem? Do you start with a title, maybe a prompt, or an idea?

SA: My prose poems usually start with a strong feeling, sometimes a rebellious feeling. They can feel like rants. I’ve written prose poems in response to prompts, since I belong to an online prompt group and write a lot of prompted poems. Titles almost always come last for me, and I change them several times before settling on one that feels right.

RLB: How do you determine that a piece needs to be in prose poem form, rather than lined poetry, or being fleshed out in a flash fiction piece?

SA: I allow the content and mood of the poem to determine its form. My prose poems seem to know that they’re meant to be prose poems! Sometimes I will convert a prose poem into a more traditional form and vice-versa, to see which one works better. It’s exciting for me to witness the poem having a mind of its own and determining its own form!

RLB: Absolutely! If we’ve learned anything through these interviews, it’s that the prose poem has, like you said, a mind of its own. Do you have any tips for those who would like to try writing a prose poem?

SA: Write about something you feel passionate about, whether your feelings are negative, positive, or ambivalent. Don’t hold back during the drafting stage—let it rip! There will be plenty of time for tailoring your poem during the revision phase, which is often ongoing for me. I’m a wordy writer, so my process is to put everything into the draft, and then cut, cut, cut. Other poets are more economical with words at the outset.

RLB: Great advice! What are you working on now? What will be seeing from you in the future?

SA: In the past, I’ve written a lot about childhood issues, and from the viewpoint of a child. I’m moving out of that phase now, into poems about relationships, cultural oddities, and the challenges of feeling like a curmudgeon in this world of speedy, abbreviated virtual reality. I’ve been exploring my love for the desert and also Latino culture in my newer poems, and writing some poems that incorporate Spanish words. I’m also having fun with the hilarious gaffes produced by autocorrect features of computes and smart phones.

RLB: Sounds like fun! We’ll be watching for your work. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, we wish you huge success in everything you do!

Guys, be sure you go check out Sandra’s prose poems, you can learn so much just by reading her work. And go order her latest poetry collection, Looking Glass Heart, available from Finishing Line Press. See you next week!

SANDRA ANFANG is a poet, teacher, and visual artist. Her poems have appeared in Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, Tower Journal, Clementine, Corvus, Unbroken, Silver Birch Press, and many others. She is a California Poet/Teacher in the Schools and hosts a monthly poetry series in Petaluma, CA.