Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney (who have two collaborative pieces in Issue #1) are interviewed by Neil de la Flor (who, with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass, has two collaborative pieces in Issue #1).
Neil de la Flor: What are the rules of the game when you collaborate? Or, is it total anarchy?
Kathleen Rooney: The first rule about collaboration club is you do not talk about collaboration club. No, wait. That’s something else. Actually, rules are pretty central to our game. EG and I typically pick at least one rule or constraint to guide our composition, which we do exclusively through email, never in person. In our going-on-four years of collaboration, these constraints have included everything from traditional forms like (or at least closely approximating) sonnets and ghazals to Oulipian forms like beautiful outlaws to forms of our own devising. For example, we wrote our resolutions as Mad Libs where one of us would write a line with several blanks and the other would fill it in.
NDLF: Is collaboration the end of the world as we know it or an end in itself?
Elisa Gabbert: Isn’t the end of the world an end in itself? All poetry is a collaborative process. Some may look at it as an end in itself, like dancing. Others may see it more like war, wherein the outcome has a marked effect on whether or not one regrets getting involved. I tend to fall in the latter category. War too is collaborative.
NDLF: What kind of kitten was used in your poem “The One About Violence” and does he know?
EG: A Siberian, like this guy. He knows everything. Don’t fall for that innocence crap.
KR: That’s the kind that was used, but no kittens were harmed in the making of this poem.
NDLF: In your opinion, will CCTV ruin reality television?
KR: No, but only because YouTube ruined it first.
NDLF: Final question: If you could be an extinct animal, which one would you be and why?
EG: Who the hell would want to be an extinct animal? I’d rather be a kitten. That said, I identify somewhat with the Antarctic wolf. And the white-footed rabbit-rat, which was kitten-sized. The Sydney natives called it “rabbit-biscuit.”
KR: A unicorn. Because some people think it is extinct, whereas others think it is imaginary. But if I had to pick a “real” extinct animal, probably the Caspian Tiger, gone forever since 1970. It would also be a good cat to include in a poem—very majestic, very violent.
Eisa Gabbert’s and Kathleen Rooney’s New Year’s Resolutions:
I resolve not to become apoplectic about minutia unless it’s truly borderline not-minute.
I resolve to take better care of my houseplants, because maintaining a fragile connection with nature is important.
I resolve to clean out the backyard every two weeks even if it looks like the animals are having a garden party.
I resolve to be less vain about seeming too vain; vanity is the ambitious woman’s best offense.
I resolve to resolve the story, or at least to end it.