An Interview with Kristian Ashley Macaron

Kristian Ashley Macaron's debut collection of poetry, Storm, is out now from Swimming with Elephants Publications. She was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about writing, love and the inclement weather of her past.

[The BAR] Tell us a little about your bad self. Where are you from? Where did you study?

Kristian Ashley Macaron: I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, went to college at the University of New Mexico out there as well. Then went to Emerson College in Boston for my MFA in creative writing.

I’m sure you could have gone anywhere for graduate school. What drew you all the way up to Boston?

Well, I did apply to several different places, but Emerson had the best program. I’d already been to Boston, too. I love being there. It’s very, not just writing focused, but art focused, you know? So many passionate writers and performers. I like that atmosphere.

Plus there was this great, out of place cemetery across the street from Emerson. That really was cool. (Laughs)

Really? That locked it up for you, huh? That’s awesome. So all you need is a little mystery and magic in your life.

Yep. When I told my dad about it he said, ‘Well of course you want to go there.”

Of course! What drew you to a chronological telling of the great storms in your life? Did your new setting impact you?

I wrote this collection after my time in Boston. I was up there for four years, August 2010 to August 2014. I had just moved back to Albuquerque, and I was starting to feel like I had just dreamed my time in Massachusetts. My life there was just so different.

So these huge storms were interesting to me because, you know, I had grown up in the desert. Experiencing the hurricanes and blizzards and tropical storms fascinated me. And every year I lived up there the whole city watched for, waited for, at least one big storm. It was so new to me that, I think, my memories are anchored there in a way that’s a little different from the rest of my time in Boston.

What does the destructive side of a storm mean to you? Do they ever freak you out?

I don’t think they were ever scary to me. I know these storms caused massive destruction in some places. New York and New Jersey are still feeling some pain from Hurricane Sandy, which is one of the storms I wrote about, and I try to keep that in mind. For the most part though, my goal in this collection was to capture their magical and mythical side.

For example in the poem, “Nemo: 2013” Boston was shut down for this beautiful blizzard. It was down for a couple days, really. We played in the snow and built igloos and things. It was magic. And then you add to its power and beauty that it was named after Nemo, a legendary character who is sort of a storm force in his own rite. I thought a lot about that character’s mystery and where I was in my own life at the time.

There is an unnamed “He” in the collection, a love interest. To my mind the feelings exchanged between you and He are the heart of the collection—the storm within the storm, if you will. What can you say about how you married the “He” with the Storm?

I wrote each of these poems separately. I didn’t plan them all from the beginning, but when I was writing them I thought a lot about, not only the storm at hand, but the time in between. I found a lot had changed in our relationship. These poems are more like snapshots of me and of us in that time.

During every storm, He and I were in different stages in our relationship. In the poem, “Irene: 2011” we were supposed to be celebrating the wedding of a friend that was set to be on a boat in the Boston Harbor, but it was, of course, postponed. That same day He got some news that affected him, and he just lay in bed. He just didn’t know how to react to it. And I didn’t know how react to him.

How did you write this once you had the concept set in your mind? Where did you start?

I started with the Hurricane Cake, also found in “Irene: 2011”. Again my friend’s wedding was postponed, and she still had all this cake. She was especially excited about it, so a few of the people who lived in the area gathered at her house to ride out the hurricane. It was such an interesting reaction to the storm and to the wedding being rained out. I had to write about it. The rest flowed naturally from there.

I started thinking about Hurricane Sandy after that. That one affected a lot of people down the coast, but for me, for a lot of people in Boston, we all had to go on with our day. I mean, I still had to go in to work. Schools were shutting down and as the day went on more and more things closed. It was an amazing experience to see that process.

And where my then boyfriend is concerned…you know, I couldn’t fit the whole relationship in the collection. It was too big. Too important to me. I honestly didn’t even try. It’s just a snapshot of my life at the time. And at that time He was a huge part of it. Storm explores those specific times, and leaving him out would have made it as incomplete as if I’d left out the actual storms.

Storm is your debut collection of poetry. How did you go about getting it published?

So this was a very exciting and surprising opportunity. It came from Swimming With Elephants Publications. The managing editor there, Katrina Guarascio, saw me at a reading, and a few days later, emailed me and asked if I wanted to put together a short collection. I knew her a little before this. She’s part of the Slam of Enchantment in Albuquerque. It’s a group I love. I love going to their readings and slam events. It’s an awesome community.

I’m extremely honored to have this opportunity. And I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

What do you tell younger writers when they ask for advice?

Find a community of writers. I don’t think I could have found my voice or recognize the power of language out there on my own. Finding a community, not even necessarily to get heavily involved with, but to just go and hear writers read their work is immeasurably important. To just go and sit and listen…and sometimes read…are some of my favorite things to do.

What’s next for you?

Well, right now I’m writing a screenplay about pirates. I’m also working on a novel about giants, New Mexican giants, actually.

New Mexican Giants would be a great title for that book.

(Laughs.) That is not going to be the title. Sorry.

You can buy Storm at Amazon or through any major book dealer.

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