Library Journal Q&A with Devin Becker on SHAME | SHAME
Library Journal recently published a refreshingly candid Q&A with BOA poet Devin Becker, author of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize-winning collection Shame | Shame. The piece touches on a bit of everything, from inspiration to the MFA experience, to the nitty-gritty details of publishing a book. When asked what inspired his debut collection, which humorously focuses on the everyday sort of shame born of small, socially clumsy moments in life, Becker says, "A lot of the things are mundane. Me and my coworkers sitting outside of a building having coffee, or my wife and I at a smoothie joint in a nearby town. And I think I started really paying attention to those moments that I hadn’t ever paid attention to before. Something awkward happens. Not terrible, but just a little bit off. And I would come back and really want to write about that. That’s the 'Shame' part. Some sort of invisible social cue being played. I thought that was an interesting way to write. To really describe, in minute detail, that moment." This focus on the mundane and socially awkward highlights Becker's connection to his audience through devastatingly relatable writing--something that has always been important for Becker. "The real thing I learned [from teachers and mentors]," he says, "was the importance of considering the reader . . . That's the goal. That's the community you want to create --the reader-writer dynamic--and that's what I've found is easily the most rewarding part of [writing] the book." Becker also remarks on his use of humor, saying the best poetry readings are the ones that are self-deprecating, where people laugh, which again displays his acute attention to the reader's experience. "I do think comedy can get at some things, in a kind of sideways way, and give a reader a deeper examination of life and the different ways of being that people have." A large part of the Q&A delves into what it takes to put together a collection of poetry--how Becker went about choosing and cutting poems, how themes were developed, the process of line-by-line edits. In general, Becker describes it as "a gradual and organic process." And once all of the editorial elements--both exciting and tedious--are gone through, "you get a big box of your own book at your door." For the complete Q&A with Devin Becker, head over to Library Journal. And be sure to check out his engaging, humbling, and impeccably funny debut collection Shame | Shame, available at the BOA Bookstore.
- Categories: A. Poulin Jr. Prize, Becker, BOA Editions, interview, Uncategorized