September 2010

Simone Muench

[Poet, Editor, Fan]

This issue features a “microinterview” with Simone Muench, conducted by Daniel Handler. Muench is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Orange Crush, published this year by Sarabande Books. She is an editor at Sharkforum and is an ardent, thoughtful, die-hard fan of horror movies. Her thirteen favorite horror movies are Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Don’t Look Now, Braindead, Suspiria, Halloween, The Exorcist, Alien, The Descent, The Thing, Possession, À l’intérieur, and Romero’s original trilogy: Night, Dawn, and Day of the (Living) Dead. She lives in Chicago.

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DANIEL HANDLER: Horror movies currently reach a larger audience than poetry, to put it mildly. Does your admiration of a very mainstream art form ever cause you to doubt your practicing of a somewhat marginalized one?

SIMONE MUENCH: No, never, actually. Poetry may be one of the less-lucrative careers, to put it mildly, but it is poetry’s marginality that allows for it to be commercially untainted. The idea of being pressured to dramatically alter my book to generate capital (in the way that some directors have to tack on “moneymaking” finales for their film to get financed) is disagreeable to me, and, fortunately, I’ve never had to hack up my poetry just for the sake of financial influx—because there is no cash flow in poetry. Of course, ask me that when I’m out of a job, and I may respond much differently.

DH: There’s now a well-established tradition in horror movies—it seems like this started in Japan, but it’s certainly spread—of a long, long stretching of suspense and then, in the last twenty minutes or so, a lot of gore. (Like, a lot.) Structurally I find this appealing. Often it’s the final lines of a poem that can clinch the thing, almost retroactively enhancing the reading of the prior lines.

SM: If I don’t finish watching a film or reading a novel, I often feel that I haven’t the right to be dismissive, because sometimes, as you said, it is the end that asks us to retrospectively reassess the entire work. So it’s a journey I often enjoy taking in film and also in poetry. La Cérémonie and Audition are films that come to mind that structurally create these last-minute blowouts—however, it’s less about shock than it is about resonance.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Daniel Handler has a new book out this fall as Lemony Snicket.

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