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Connected Through Death: On an Interview With Wendy Mnookin

new-Mnookin-photoWHAT HE TOOK author photo courtesy of In a recent interview that goes straight to the heart, Wendy Mnookin (author of What He Took, The Moon Makes its Own Plea, and To Get Here, etc.) and Patricia Caspers of Ploughshares Literary Magazine, are bound by a unique and unfortunate commonality: both of their fathers were killed in car accidents. Caspers says she first came to this realization when hearing Mnookin read her poetry at AWP, and while the details and circumstances surrounding their fathers' deaths are very different, they both share a similar (ongoing and insatiable) impulse to reflect on, analyze, and write about death. In writing on death, especially out of personal experience, Caspers says there is a shared necessity between Mnookin and herself to be both "grieving daughters" and "cool-eyed editors," both on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, but both crucial. She also says that always when the cool-eyed editor wonders "how long can this go on?" the "grief always has an answer." Although Mnookin was in the car when her father was killed, she was less than three-years-old, and thus writes poetry for a kind of "permission to experience [her] father’s death in whatever way [feels] true." She shares that she is never sure whether they are memories, things she's made up, or things she's been told. Mnookin admits to never intending to write a full-length book of poems about her father's death, but has realized in piecing her manuscripts together that so many of her poems link back in some way to the accident, which is how her What He Took came to be. She describes her grief as a "stillness, a blank despair rather than a frantic outpouring, as if catastrophe swallows sound." Read the whole interview (and featured poems by Mnookin and Caspers) here.
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