For Feminine Inquiry’s Fall 2015 issue we published two fantastic poems by the very lovely and very talented writer Audrey T. Carroll. Well Audrey has gone on to do some super rad things including having her first collection of poetry, Queen of Pentacles, published!
FI: Tell us about Queen of Pentacles. How did you come up with that rad title?
AC: Right before I put Queen of Pentacles together I started getting into tarot. I’ve always been into all things witchy. The pentacle is my favorite symbol. Partly it’s just aesthetically pleasing, but I also like the ideas of elemental balance and protection that come with it. Because of this, I especially paid attention to the pentacle cards in tarot. There’s a spread where you can pick a card to represent you. I chose the Queen of Pentacles as my representative card. She’s very tied to the Earth and looks contemplative in the classic Rider-Waite deck. A lot of my poetry collection is reflective, and the poems explore connection to the Earth as spirituality, as well as finding a way to personal balance. To me, this card blends a lot of those themes nicely.
FI: What kind of topics and styles of poetry do you explore in your collection?
AC: I wrote these poems over the course of a couple of the darkest years of my life. Some are written about my struggle with mental illness—Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression. Of course, in dealing with those things, I reflected a fair bit on my past, on what formed those conditions in me. I got to examine what it meant to be a woman in my home growing up and then what my female identity meant after leaving that home, my journey with anorexia, how I did (or didn’t) explore my sexuality when growing up, and, as I mentioned before, my spiritual journey as well. One of the keys to understanding this all was writing about some of the dreams that preoccupied me.
It was while writing this collection that I first experimented with prose poetry. There are definitely traditionally line broken poems in there as well, but I felt really taken in by prose poetry as a style. It started, funnily enough, because prose poetry was discouraged/dismissed/generally given shit in a critique group. It wasn’t taken seriously as a form of poetry. So, naturally, I started to write it regularly and to dedicate myself to learning how to craft it well. My stubbornness coming out, I suppose. The surest way to get me to do something is to say that I won’t be able to do it.
FI: What was the process of writing and putting together a collection of poetry like for you?
AC: I actually didn’t set out to write a collection at first. I wrote a bunch of poems for an MFA class after years away from poetry (while concentrating on my fiction almost 100%). Then I noticed Hermeneutic Chaos was open for chapbook submissions over the summer. I had more time for writing since I had no classes to worry about. I sat down with the poems I had and then wrote a poem every day until I hit the page requirement. I tried to pick an image, a theme, or a word in each one and make that the inspiration or link for the poem after it. The chapbook was (very, very kindly) rejected. At that point, I realized I had quite a bit of composition done toward a collection and used it as a way to work through some of the hard stuff I previously mentioned.
FI: When will the collection come out and how can we get one?
AC: The collection released on August 16th, and you can order it at http://ctspress.com/new/shop/.
FI: What other projects are on the horizon?
AC: Right now I have a fantasy novel under review with a couple of publishers. It’s planned as a trilogy. While it’s an ensemble story, it definitely focuses on a young woman who’s a witch in a Pennsylvanian college town and how she has to navigate tradition vs. innovation and teamwork vs. individuality while coming into her own power.
I also just edited my second poetry collection with the help of my friend Erin. This time I very much sat down wanting to make this a collection. It’s sectioned off and is all about identity narratives and intersectionality. I think of Queen of Pentacles as an unearthing of self and this new collection as a way to understand how each of these pieces of myself fit together.
Of course, I’m always working on tons of things (I’m Leslie Knope with a healthy dash of April Ludgate). I have a bunch of short stories I’m shopping around to lit mags, as well as the poems from that second collection. I have an outline for a memoir about my fibromyalgia. I’ve got the beginning of a YA queer novel that I’m probably going to mostly scrap and rewrite. I like having the wheels on different things turning at once.
Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native whose obsessions include kittens, coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Rooster Teeth community. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, The Fem, Feminine Inquiry, the A3 Review, and others. Her poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is available from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter.