1. Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)
My writing encompasses a lot of genres/themes from feminism, abuse sexuality, regional influence (the South, Pensacola, where I’ve lived most of my life), literature, film, documentaries, kneesocks , erotica, horror, erotic horror, pop culture, true crime, stripping, being a woman child, princesses and dolls. What I would say ties this all together is myself. These are all pieces of me, things that interest me, and I write about what interests me.
Frida Kahlo painted herself. She called herself her own muse. Commenting on this she said that she was the subject she knew best. I feel that way, too. My writing isn’t always about me personally (though it often is), but it’s usually about someone I know, something I’ve experienced, read, watched, a story that was told to me. I write things I know and feel intensely. I do have muses outside of myself that prompt me and guide me, and that’s the best resource in the world. Ultimately though I am often telling my story, a story of a close friend, a person who wounded me. I write from the heart, lovestruck, lovesick, broken or otherwise.
I was abused and have encountered other abused people, a little girl in my neighborhood who died recently, for example,. I have written a lot about that. Growing up, I lived in a “nice” suburban house where my family dressed well and went to church. I didn’t lack for anything financially, and yet I was in a horror movie. So I relate to that aesthetic in literature, the shiny apple with the worm beneath. I am attracted to stories that tell that story because it’s my story, true crime and horror. I incorporate a lot of these themes in my work because it’s just organic to me.
This is also true of stripping. I was a topless dancer for five years of my life in pigtails and cheerleading uniforms and plaid skirts. It incorporated my woman-child nature into a vocation, and it imbued me with unique experiences and perspective on men, sex work, psychology. Even when I wasn’t actively writing — I took a hiatus for some time — when I told stories of this period of my life, usually over some drinks and the requisite liquid courage, people always listened. Everyone was curious and fascinated. I think while a writer needs style and technique and education, having a unique story and voice is just a much an element of writing. I didn’t finish graduate school because I was “on the pole” as they say, but being “on the pole” was an education in itself.
When I decided to write, I decided to talk about the stripping. I still was a little shy about being so open about it, but I knew that if I was going to put it out there, I had to really own it. I have, and people have been very kind to me and receptive about it. It’s been an empowering choice. I hope that it empowers others, and maybe reminds some people that sex workers are humans with all kinds of goals, ambitions, backgrounds, obsessions with sonnets (of which I write an incredible amount.) These are the issues I like to explore in my writing.
2. What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?
As far as promoting my work, I am highly involved in Twitter. I am kind of known for my kneesock posts. It was a fun idea I started because I collect kneesocks and other socks. Since I embody a lot of woman-child themes in my work, I thought that the socks would reflect that. I have fun with it. I take a picture most days and put it on my Twitter of my socks. It doesn’t take a lot of time.
I do have a website, kristingarth.wordpress.com, and I’m working to get it better organized. I have had a lot of publications (179) since I started publishing last April. I’m a Capricorn, and I write almost every day and submit a lot. I’m a person who is not afraid of hard work. My website is always behind for this reason. This is a good example of not having enough time to both do the writing and promote it. I’m trying to balance things better. Writing most of the time, though, comes first.
My first chapbook Pink Plastic House came out in February from Maverick Duck Press. It’s entitled Pink Plastic House. The poems are organized into rooms, as the book is in fact representative of the Barbie dreamhouse I had when I was 25 and a stripper. To promote this book, I personally annotate copies for people who desire my 12-year-old girl style pink inked scribblings commentating the work. These annotations take me several hours to do because each one is completed upon order. All the annotations are unique and tailored to the individual I am addressing. It takes me some time, but I enjoy doing them. I don’t travel or read places, but I meet a lot of people on Twitter, and it gives me a chance to write to them like a penpal. It’s time intensive but worth it to me, and it has sold some books.
My second chapbook, Shakespeare for Sociopaths, is being released by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in January 2019. It’s a chapbook of exclusively Shakespearean sonnets on the theme of sociopaths invented, from the news and my life. I am sure that I will do the annotation strategy again because I enjoy it, and it’s brought me closer to faraway people.
3. What projects are you working on at present?
My newest project I am working on is my next book which is entitled Candy Cigarette: A Womanchild Noir. I love film noir, and I love teenage themes because inside I’m a perpetual teenager. I love the movie Brick, which is a noir set in a high school. I also love the show Veronica Mars and grew up adoring Nancy Drew. I’m using a lot of these influences to write a noir woman-child chapbook. I wrote a poem recently called Candy Cigarettes that Bone & Ink Zine is publishing. Much like when I wrote the poem Pink Plastic Houses that inspired my first chapbook, when I wrote this poem, it felt bigger than the piece itself. Candy Cigarette incorporated my love of mystery, candy, dolls, childhood, and dark romance. I’m very excited about it.
Before I came up with my newest book idea, I had to have a goal because I’m a Capricorn, and that’s how we roll. I’m still working on achieving this one, but I’m getting closer. When my second book publication acceptance was announced, a British sonneteer approached me who has a book of 155 sonnets he’s putting out, Lucien Young. Shakespeare had 154 published sonnets, so Lucien wants to have more sonnets published than Shakespeare. I hadn’t even kept count, but after talking to him I decided to check. As of this interview, I had 127 published sonnets. I have 151 accepted for publication by literary magazines awaiting publication. Obviously, I’d like to beat that number, too. And it’s a fun little goal. I love Shakespeare, and I’m well aware I’m not him and not even attempting to be, but it’s fun to play little games with yourself to keep yourself working hard. I’m ambitious and a hard worker, and I like goals.
4. What does poetry mean to you?
Poetry is truly my world. It’s crazy how much publishing has changed my life. In the Twitter poetry community, I have friends, a voice and a platform which makes me feel so empowered. I love the fact that you have regular readers of your works that are looking to see – what is she going to talk about today? And it’s not always serious. Sometimes I write something fun or sexy, and that feels like such a relief at times. But often, I write about things like power imbalances, abusive relationships, and when you hear someone tell you: you really hit this important point home, or you made me not feel alone, you feel like you’ve done an important thing. Poetry though in the day to day, for me, is creating life and reliving life – the good and the bad. When you get it right, it can transport you to the past, to new places and new friends. Poetry is magic.