Molly Gaudry is the author of We Take Me Apart and Desire: A Haunting. She is a core faculty member at the Yale Writers’ Conference and creative director at The Lit Pub.
Geosi Gyasi: You are a core faculty member of the Yale Writer’s Conference. Could you tell us what it is all about?
Molly Gaudry: The YWC began in 2012 and is directed by Terrence Hawkins. Every summer, writers from around the world gather to participate in Session I, which is ten days, or Session II, which is five days. Some writers even stay for both sessions. Since 2013, I have taught Flash Fiction workshops during Session II, and this year I will also teach a Fiction workshop during Session I. I love this job, and I love my students, who continue to inspire me long after our time together in New Haven.
Geosi Gyasi: Could you share with us your work as the Creative Director at The Lit Pub?
Molly Gaudry: My job is to basically oversee everything related to the production of each new title that Lit Pub publishes. In addition, I manage the book recommendations that are published on the website.
Geosi Gyasi: You were the founding editor for Willows Wept Review between 2008 and 2010. Is Willows Wept Review still in existence?
Molly Gaudry: Troy Urquhart took over in 2010, and, to my knowledge he has kept it alive.
Geosi Gyasi: You were also a book reviewer for American Book Review in 2011. What sort of work did you do as a book reviewer?
Molly Gaudry: I haven’t written many book reviews, and one of my goals for 2015 is to become a lot more critical of the books I read and choose to write about. In the past, I was most interested in helping to spread the word about books that I really enjoyed reading, but now I want to contribute to conversations about books whether or not I actually enjoyed them.
Geosi Gyasi: You were a reader for the Ronald Sukenick/FC2 Innovative Fiction Contest in 2013. My question is, was your task only to read?
Molly Gaudry: My task was to read and consider a number of manuscripts that had been submitted to the contest. These manuscripts were passed around and read many times throughout the process.
Geosi Gyasi: Are you a great reader? Which books have inspired you most?
Molly Gaudry: I have always read a lot. I loved to read when I was young, and I never lost that love for books. I was lucky because my parents believed reading was important, and they bought books for me for my birthday or as gifts, and more frequently they took me to the city library so I could check out books, and I also checked out books from my school’s bookmobile. The first book that reshaped my writing into what it is today was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. My work usually includes elements of magical realism, and I always write about flowers. When Marquez died, I had a yellow flower tattooed on my left wrist. After Marquez, Anne Carson and Marguerite Duras are my biggest influences.
Geosi Gyasi: When did you get into writing?
Molly Gaudry: I have always written. I used to write stories on scraps of construction paper that I sewed or taped together. In elementary school, I often turned in stories for extra credit. In junior high, my English teacher Mrs. Watson taught me how to speed read. In high school, my English teacher Mrs. Berry taught me how to write essays about literature that she taught me how to read more critically. And at that same school, I began to take creative writing classes, which I never stopped taking, in college and graduate school.
Geosi Gyasi: What is the best poem you’ve ever written?
Molly Gaudry: My private diaries, my heartsongs.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you get rejections from publishers?
Molly Gaudry: Yes. Frequently.
Geosi Gyasi: Could you briefly tell us about your chapbook, “Anatomy for the Artist”?
Molly Gaudry: “Anatomy for the Artist” borrows its subtitles from a drawing book, and from those phrases I wrote individual sections that all together became a long, semi-narrative poem. I submitted this poem to JA Tyler at Mud Luscious Press, hoping he might consider it for his chapbook series. Instead, he published the manuscript that emerged from that chapbook (and bears no resemblance whatsoever) as MLP’s first full-length title: We Take Me Apart. “Anatomy for the Artist” was published online by Blossombones.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you get the inspiration to write “We Take Me Apart”?
Molly Gaudry: The words “we take me apart” haunted me, followed me everywhere I went, echoed in my head anywhere I was. I began to write lines that borrowed words from Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, and these lines began to form into a narrative that made sense of the words “we take me apart, we take me apart, we take me apart.”
Geosi Gyasi: Is it appropriate to describe “We Take Me Apart” as a verse novel?
Molly Gaudry: Yes, I think “verse novel” is the best descriptor for that book — long like a novel but looks like poetry.
Geosi Gyasi: “We Take Me Apart” was named 2nd finalist for the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. How did you feel at the time?
Molly Gaudry: Absolutely thrilled! Kimiko Hahn won that year, and she had been a visiting writer at my school not long before the announcement. When I found out her book, Toxic Flora, took over ten years to write, I couldn’t believe my little verse novel was in the company of her work. It was humbling and validating simultaneously.
Geosi Gyasi: Why did you have to reprint “We Take Me Apart” by Ampersand Books?
Molly Gaudry: JA Tyler’s Mud Luscious Press stopped publishing books and all of the titles that had been released were going out of print. Jason Cook at Ampersand Books offered to reprint We Take Me Apart, and I accepted with gratitude.
Geosi Gyasi: What kind of relationship do you have with Ampersand Books?
Molly Gaudry: Ampersand Books is my home. Jason Cook, the publisher, is the midwife to my words, my scenes, my characters, my books. He is a wonderful editor, and I am thrilled that my work is in such loving hands.
Geosi Gyasi: Between fiction and non-fiction, which one of them is difficult to write?
Molly Gaudry: Fiction is more difficult for me, because of the time it takes to construct a believable psychology. Nonfiction is difficult, too, though. Phillip Lopate says that you don’t have to tell the truth in nonfiction but you should strive to be honest, and sometimes that honesty is really hard to expose to others. That’s why my diaries are private!
Geosi Gyasi: Is it easy to write poetry?
Molly Gaudry: No. I think poetry is the hardest, because there is so much pressure on every single word.
Geosi Gyasi: What is the most boring part about writing?
Molly Gaudry: Adding a comma. Removing it. Putting it back. Rewriting the line. Deleting the rewrite. Putting the first line back. Adding a comma. Removing it. Putting it back. Sometimes this goes on for days.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you feel fulfilled as a writer?
Molly Gaudry: I do. And I’m grateful for it every single day.