Melissa Broder is the author of When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother (Ampersand Books, February 2010).
Broder received her BA from Tufts University and is getting a slow, scenic MFA at CCNY. She won the 2009 Stark Prize for Poetry and the 2008 Jerome Lowell Dejur Award. Her poems appear, or are forthcoming, in many journals, including: Opium, Shampoo, PANK, Five Dials, The Del Sol Review, Word for/Word, Miracle Monocle and Swink.
She lives in Brooklyn.
How do you think your collection fits into the larger tradition of poetics? In other words, do you consider yourself the next Billy Collins?
Rumor has it Mr. Collins got ahold of the poem “Dear Billy Collins” and he liked it, but he also said I shouldn’t be so sure he’s above using the word “fingerbang.”
Usually when I ask authors to help define what the reoccurring images signify in their collection, I’m referring to trees, birds, or bunnies. But with your work I must say “what does finger banging mean to the collection as a whole?” (I feel weird now. I also feel strangely liberated. Thanks.)
You’re welcome. But Nicelle? Fingerbanging is one word, okay.
Thematically I think the book addresses a very human instinct to elevate ourselves from the material world by using what we have: the material world. Tattoos, gurus, the perfect cheese board, it’s like, right intention, wrong door. The fixes that quell the big questions of our lives end up comprising our lives.
How did you decide on the order that the poems would appear in the collection?
I have poets Jason Scheiderman and David Groff to thank for that, as well as my editor Jesse Bradley and my publisher Jason Cook. They also gave the poems some serious pruning. I believe their exact words were: “Too many exclamation points make baby Jesus weep.”
Romancing the Detox seems to resist closure—almost like a cliffhanger. Will there be a sequel to When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother?
The poems I’m writing now continue to contend with what we use to stuff the hole in the donut of our lives. So yes, it looks like “Mother” might have a daughter one of these days. But whether the narrative voice in “Romancing the Detox” will “burst into flames” still remains to be seen.
Did you find poetry? Or did poetry find you?
Poetry found me binge-eating Fruit Roll-Ups in Third Grade. I thank Mrs. Hovey in the book’s acknowledgments.
What advice would you give to the beginning poet?
Get down with O.P.P. (other people’s poems) and steal nouns.