4 Questions with Joanna Valente.

Joanna Valente

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1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

​I’m just a weirdo. I think that sums up basically everything about me. I love the strange, the unusual (hi, Beetlejuice!), and am always interested in people who live life on the fringe, who see things a little differently. In general, I also tend to focus on bodies, involving the deconstruction of gender and sexuality, and how stereotypes influence how we make choices. ​My influences, of course, range widely, but anyone from David Lynch ​to Audre Lorde to Werner Herzog to Kim Hyesoon. I like all the weirdos.

2, What are some of the ways you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

 ​Usually on my social media accounts, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and my personal website. I feel like m​edia has become such a huge part of our lives and identities that it often just feels like me updating my friends about what I’m doing. So in many ways, it doesn’t interrupt any writing time, since you can’t be writing all the time anyway. And I think, in many ways, being a good writer means going between different types of writing – and finding various identities.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

  ​So many! Currently, finalizing a poetry collection called “What White Men Tell Me About My Body,” another poetry collection called “Werner Catzog​,” and a novel called “Baby Girl and Other Ghosts.” There’s other things in the works, but some secrets are good.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

​It’s about the exploration of the self, of the world around us, trying to find a way to not speak to void, but to the world around us. It’s just about communicating. Finding ourselves. This is what all good art does.

Sexting Ghosts is a collection of poems by Joanna C. Valente. ‘In Sexting Ghosts, Joanna Valente invites us to join them in their haunted psychiatrist’s chair for a cinematic Q&A with the ghosts and gods of the future past. These poems together form an epic flush with oblique strategies for survival. Valente’s arguments sear then soften, become inquiries, persistent efforts to either understand or to cut ties with what time has shed. Ghosts and humans alike know the exhausting experience of being a human trapped in a body. Ghosts, too, are jailed in their forms.’ – Jasmine Dreame Wagner, author of On a Clear Day and Rings

Joanna C. Valente is a ghost who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017), and received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, Them, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere.


My thoughts on Small Stones from the River by Kat Lehmann ( @songsofkat )

  • Publisher Createspace.com
  • Release Date 29th June 2017
  • Average Rating 4.2 / 5 🌟

Available on KU


Lehmann describes the writing in her book as meditations and micropoems. They seem made for fridge magnets, bookmarks, and greeting cards. In a world that seems increasingly cruel, inhumane, and barbaric Small Stones from the River is encouraging, thought provoking, and inspiring.

The limitations
I place
On the dreams
Of others
Are the same limitations
I place
On myself

One that I personally believe in

Your legacy
is your love

that’s the best thing you do

If ever you needed some word medicine I believe Lehmann’s words, if you truly try to believe in them, will help heal you.

This one:

if you feel
your heart
is eager to rain
bring it a gift
of sunshine instead
and marvel
at the glorious colours
it makes

made me think of the beauty of the rainbow patterns on rained on concrete when the sun comes out.

make a certain peace
with stagnation

ask it to tea
and stare patiently at one another

when it is time to get up
both of you
will know

Further Reading


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