Interview with Marvin Shackelford

This might be our last interview for Issue 2, but at least it’s a good one. Marvin contributed two poems to the last issue, one of which is my wife’s favorite poem Bop Dead City’s published so far.
Describe your poetry in 25 words or less.

Hopelessly narrative. Desperate for images. In love with everyone and everything.

Who influenced you most as a writer?

Brett Eugene Ralph and Kevin Canty are two of my personal heroes. I come back to their wisdom and their writing on a regular basis, along with folks like Flannery O’Connor, James Wright, and Denis Johnson. The Incognito Lounge is like a safety blanket for me.

Tell us about your poems “Anniversary” and “Say Nashville Had An Angel.”

“Anniversary” is particularly autobiographical, coming from an actual conversation with an ex-fiancée who jilted me. “Say Nashville Had An Angel” is from a series about Nashville, Tennessee. Started as a classroom exercise focused on playing with form and exploring personal experiences with cities–I was born and raised in the boondocks outside Nashville, have lived and worked there, sometimes listen to country music on the radio–and some of the poems turned into pleasant surprises.

What do you usually write about?

I used to say I write about well-meaning white trash, and a woman once told me I write about male loneliness. I think more than anything I like to write about the generally-small, personally-meaningful moments at which changes take place. I like figuring out the words and aligning all the stars.

Do you keep a blog?

Dead at the moment but in the process of a resurrection:

I also just climbed into the new millennium and started tweeting: @WorderFarmer

What are you reading right now?

Just finished Carrie Fountain’s Burn Lake and loved it. Right now working on Ann Lauterbach’s Or To Begin Again and Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I often tell folks to be sure to keep doing what they’re good at doing while throwing new elements into the mix, too. I have to watch myself–I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, by any means, but I’d like to think my wheelhouse is expandable. Lot of the time people don’t trust their talents enough, or on the other hand don’t look past their strengths, and I think it’s important to strike that balance.

What are you working on right now?

A series of poems built around the nameless wife and sister of the Biblical Cain, first to farm, murder, and build a city. I’m still feeling it out but am enjoying the research into different sources that expand the story and am pleased with some of the early drafts.

About bopdeadcity

Bop Dead City is an independent, quarterly literary magazine. We are seeking new writers who have a great story to tell. Sound craftsmanship couldn't hurt either. All of our issues are available for purchase here on the site through Paypal. If you’d like to know more about what type of work we publish, reading a back issue would be the best way to do it. View all posts by bopdeadcity

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