We're honored to feature poems by Candace Hartsuyker in Issue One of Orson's Review. We're also very fortunate for the time Candace took to sit down and chat with us about her journey as a poet.
*The following interview involves Orson's Publishing (OP) and Candace Hartsuyker (CH).
OP: Is being a poet your primary occupation?
CH: Originally, I was more of a fiction writer than a poet, but after I took a poetry class, I began to admire the way a poem can play with language and must be concise in a way that most short stories can’t. Right now, I am a first-year MFA fiction candidate at McNeese State University, so I would say my primary occupation is being a student and my second job is working on improving my skills as both a poet and fiction writer.
OP: What about "Close Enough to Smell a Bear" and "Brother" are you most proud?
CH: I define a good poem as one that elicits an emotional response from the reader and takes risks with word choice or imagery. I’m proud because I think I was able to accomplish both of those things in “Close Enough to Smell a Bear” and “Brother.”
OP: Tell us about your writing process. Do you approach all pieces of writing in the same way?
CH: Whenever I’m writing a poem, I generally start with a first draft that is too long. While I’m revising, I usually end up cutting a lot of what I originally wrote and instead keep the strongest images and then rearrange them to see what would be most effective.
OP: Where do you see your journey with the written word going?
CH: I’d like to eventually publish a collection of poetry and a short story collection. I am particularly interested in telling stories from a feminist perspective.
OP: Do you believe that an MFA is crucial to success as a writer today?
CH: While I don’t think it is crucial for all writers to have an MFA, I think there are many benefits. One of the advantages of pursuing an MFA is that it gives you two or three years to devote your time solely to writing and being mentored. You become part of a community of writers. The benefit of the MFA is that it brings all these resources to one place and is readily available. There are plenty of accomplished writers who have been able to do this without an MFA, but I think to be successful, they have to work harder. This isn’t fair, but I think it is the reality of what writers are facing today.
OP: Do you attend poetry readings? If so, tell us about the best one you’ve ever attended -- what made it so good?
CH: I was fortunate enough to see Natalie Diaz read some of the poems from her book When My Brother Was an Aztec. One of the poems she read was “My Brother at 3AM.” I admire the imagery in Diaz’s poem and also her ability to take risks by working with multiple points of view. My favorite line in the poem is “stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.”
Candace Hartsuyker is a first-year fiction student in McNeese State University’s MFA Program. She has been published in Foliate Oak, Foxglove Journal, The Ginger Collect, Former Cactus and Anti-Heroin Chic.
Be sure to check out Candace Hartsuyker's poems in Issue One of Orson's Review.