Kate Greentreet's first-book interview w/ Tony Tost
In an ugly but I think pretty understandable way, the knowledge of having a forthcoming book stood as evidence for me against the small but fairly vocal collection of peers and instructors at Arkansas who didn't think what I did was poetry, or that I would have any publishing success. A favorite example: Dave Smith visited our program and in our meeting he said, "the only thing I can tell you Tony is stop what you're doing." Or the first week of my first workshop, hearing about the older students taking turns reading my first poem at a bar and mocking it, etc. Or people walking out of workshop in the middle of my poem. This all fed into the ambition machine (which keeps humming).
I'd actually daydreamed about this exact sort of thing happening, getting some sought-after award or publisher, but that it'd happen right before my graduating reading and it'd be announced then, and then I'd laugh in everyone's face. But I think that's the kind of thinking that hyper-competitiveness can bring, or at least it's the kind of thinking that it bred in me. I feel pretty distant from that mindset now, but it was there, definitely.
Read the rest.