Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Next Big Thing: Interview With Howard Faerstein

What follows is a self-interview entitled “The Next Big Thing” that is making its way through the blogosphere. Every Wednesday, writers who have a recent or forthcoming book answer the following questions, post them on a blog somewhere, and tag five more writers to do the same the following Wednesday. This interview is of and by Howard Faerstein.

What is the working title of the book?

Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn is the title of my book.

What genre does your book fall under?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to see my poems collected in a book…(Actually, I did have a chapbook published, my juvenalia, but that was 36 years ago.) I guess the question could be focused on where the idea for some/all of the poetry comes from, and to that I’d answer: from my life. There are poems about childhood, my parents, my living through the sixties, the jobs that I’ve had. There are political poems that were written in response to political events; poems of exile and return; poems of love and the end of love; poems evoked by the natural world, poems that attempt to paint every space of white on the canvas and those that focus on the tiny corner hidden by clouds.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
 movie rendition?

Have they started making movies out of poetry collections? No one told me…damn. Well, most of the actors that come to mind are dead: Sal Mineo, W. C. Fields, Paul Newman, Harpo Marx…How about Pacino or DeNiro?

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Wrong question for a book of poetry, especially for one like mine that isn’t a “themed” work. Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn is collection of poems that come out of my experiences. It is one possible way of being & surviving as a human being in a beautiful, terrifying and absurd world, in this case, being Howie Faerstein who has lived for 65 years (and counting).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’ve been working on & revising the book for about a decade, maybe longer…Some poems go back at least that far while others were written over the past six months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Gerald Stern, Michael Waters, Larry Levis, Allen Ginsberg, are some of the poets who have inspired me by their writing and by their teaching. Old rock & roll (doo wop even), the great jazz of the 1960s, and delta blues are other sources of inspiration. I’ve wanted to write the book for as long as I can remember…and I finally found a publisher willing to take it on.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you’re interested in reading poetry of place you’ll find works that are set in Brooklyn, the Berkshire Hills & Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, Taos & Santa Fe, New Mexico, Southwestern Colorado, to name a few of the many locations.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book has been published by Press 53. (Check out their website: As of now it’s in the pre-order stage. I expect that it will be available in a few days…It can now be purchased on & Barnes &…

And here’s a poem from the book—(originally published in Nimrod)


On October Sundays
when we lived in Colorado
we'd drive to watch the osprey

in Vallecito,
to see if they'd left.
We'd pass the ridge

burned 2 years before,
buffalo & grama grass
rising toward somber foothills.

Under a Neanderthal moon
blackened pine lined the lake's rim
& the raptors flew on

both sides of the darkening road.
We weren't there for the fire,
we were in New Mexico

with its orange-furred bumblebees
& ring-tailed cats
in the ruthless Sandias.

It was a roaming time, my late 50s,
I was always thinking of other towns--
of Roanoke, its crepe myrtles

& I'd begun dreaming of the rain in Brooklyn
& the Italians
wrapping their fig trees in burlap

& a doctor at my daughter's birth
diagnosing an enzyme deficiency
he said would lead to retardation.

He was wrong,
but we spent a day in Bellevue
finding that out in a closet-sized room

filled with broken parents.
Months before Vallecito,
in the dining hall

by the Contoocook,
a phoebe flapped in panic
below the ceiling.

Its mate in a willow outside a window.
In the wildfire
the ospreys stayed with their chicks

as flames slapped at their tree.
I saw the charred
wingtips. Then

they plunged
into water.

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