This Side of West Interviews Sophie Crocker
Interviewed by TSOW 2022-2023 Director of Social Media, Sarah Lachmansingh.
brat is an anthology of forest creatures, lost girls, and tiny precious moments. In this collection of poetry, smallness begets uprising, rats signify life rather than death, and bunnies are slutty woodland sprites. brat makes smallness into power, resilience, and survival. In these poems, to be a brat is to be a scamp, an upstart, an agent of mischief: to cause trouble; to riot; to right wrongs; to enact change because it is right, regardless of a corrupt legal system. If brathood is the irreverent claiming of ownership over all good things, then this collection is the quintessential brat.
Sarah Lachmansingh: The language in your poems is so precise. What does your drafting process look like?
Sophie Crocker: Thank you! I read a lot of poetry while drafting. I remove any word or line that doesn’t feel necessary or that rubs me the wrong way. So much of my drafting process is about writing a lot and then removing most of it. I think that the impact of writing is as important as the intention, so I’m careful — and a little obsessive — about my words. I write at least a few lines every day to keep my creative muscles working and try to cross-train by doing other forms of art.
SL: What did your revision process for these poems look like?
SC: I continued to revise until right before publication. I don’t know from whom, but I once heard the advice “edit until you don’t have a ‘least favourite’ poem in your book,” so that’s what I try to do. I don’t want any poem to be the standout weak poem. Ideally, all my poems have a moment of transcendence or elevation, so I edit until I actively feel startled by the poem. Whenever I have spare time at my laptop, I move words around on the page. I save all the cut lines in a separate document full of orphan lines so that I don’t feel too bad about all the cutting I need to do.
SL: What is your advice for students who are looking to publish their work? Any advice for students who may want to compile their work into a book?
SC: There’s a lot of inherent humiliation in being an artist. You get incredibly vulnerable, and half the time this just results in rejection anyway. Accepting that reality is necessary. I think of every rejection as an opportunity to submit that piece elsewhere. Multi-submit wherever you can, and submit often. Read the submission guidelines carefully.
When it comes to compiling a book of poetry, it took me a long time to realize the unifying thread in “brat.” For me, much of compiling a book involved identifying a theme and being unafraid to cut a lot of poems that didn’t fit or weren’t quite up to snuff.
SL: Are you currently working on any writing projects?
SC: I’m working on two magical realist novels and a second poetry collection, which is written after Danez Smith’s poem a note on the body. I’m planning for one of these to be my thesis project.