Digital Book Tour: New Book by Kate Gaskin
Fam, times are weird—so many of us have to figure out new ways of doing old things. Book launches, an established feature of our wonderful community of writers, have been particularly hard hit, and we’d love to make room for authors to share their work with the world. Our limited Digital Book Tour series will serve that end! Today, we’re sharing an excerpt and interview from Kate Gaskin’s Forever War.
An Excerpt from Kate Gaskin’s Forever War
Elegy with the Gulf of Mexico and the Persian Gulf
Here there is air same
as any other, twilight, sundog
haloing a different gulf
but water the same, sand
the same, same keening wind
same hollow in the body
scraped clean by loss. I am not
who I thought I would be
with the difference between leaving
and being left. Wife
is a reductive word, gossamered
bereft, both passerine
and passive, the downy distance
between sky and ground. In war
all men are alike. They leave.
They go. Below: the sand, the water
the tide, this life I agreed to
even as I was being left behind.
On What the Reader Will Walk Away With
Kate Gaskin:I want readers to understand that Forever War is not about a niche subject (being a military spouse) but that it’s about love and loneliness and longing and family and the responsibility we all share as witnesses of and participants in both large and small-scale kinds of violence. I also want readers to really enjoy this book, to feel changed by it and seen in it. That’s the dream, isn’t it? To write something transportive and true.
On What the Writer Walked Away With
Kate Gaskin:In some ways, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to poetry. I didn’t attend an MFA program, and I didn’t write poetry regularly or seriously until I was in my thirties, so I basically taught myself how to write poems as I wrote this book. I also learned that I’ll never be finished learning how to write poetry, which is a realization that is as daunting as it is exciting. Writing this book also showed me my own tenacity and the daring I have to believe I can write something worthy of other people’s time.
On The Book’s Biography
Kate Gaskin:Forever War began as persona poems because I was having difficulty writing about my personal experience witnessing the U.S.’s wars through my spouse’s military service. Eventually I wrote “What the War Was Not, What the War Was,” which is a poem mostly about the things that didn’t happen, some of my greatest fears that were never realized. Once I had articulated those fears, I was able to write from a more personal perspective, and I wrote the rest of the book fairly quickly after that, within the next year. My manuscript was in circulation with a handful of contests and open reading periods for another year before it won YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize.
On The Book’s Family of Support
Kate Gaskin:Obviously, Forever War would not exist without my spouse, Dominic. If he were a lesser person he might feel threatened by this book, but he has never been anything but supportive and proud of me. I’m also indebted to AWP’s Writer to Writer mentorship program and my mentor Christina Olson. Being a military spouse means I have moved often—sometimes every year—usually to towns without active writing communities. Being a mother of a small child means that it’s difficult for me to leave for long stretches of time to attend conferences or writing residencies and retreats. Christina’s willingness to simply talk to me about writing was a huge gift because I was lonely for writing friends. She also helped order my manuscript, which was no small thing. Similarly, being given a scholarship to attend Sewanee Writers’ Conference opened up a whole literary world for me. I had been so isolated in my writing until then. I had always felt weird (and sort of ashamed???) about writing poetry because it can be so misunderstood by others, but suddenly I was in this space where poetry was treated as seriously and joyfully as it deserves to be, and that was transformative.
Kate Gaskin is the author of Forever War, which won YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in Pleiades, 32 Poems, Passages North, and The Southern Review, among others, and her work has been anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019. She has received support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center, and in 2017 she won The Pinch’s Literary Award in Poetry. Currently, she is a poetry editor for The Adroit Journal.