Debbie: Andrea, please tell us a little about yourself.
Andrea: Well, I was just named the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of the Upper Peninsula! I moved to Marquette almost five years ago when my partner Zac got a tenure-track job at NMU, and I just love it here. The winters have taken me a little while to get used to—we moved from Los Angeles, but have both spent most of our lives in the Midwest—and truth be told, the winter can still be a little trying. But the UP is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived, and I love continuing to explore Lake Superior and the many hundreds of miles of hiking trails especially.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your books.
Andrea: I have one full-length poetry collection called Once, Then that was published by Red Hen Press in 2014, and one chapbook called The Grove Behind, published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. Much of my poetry interest to date has been centered around elegy and poetry of witness; the chapbook is entirely poetry of witness, really, and Once, Then is in part an elegy for my father and for a teenage friend who was killed in a car accident.
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Andrea: Yes! I just completed my PhD in Creative Writing and would like to publish my dissertation project, which is a book-length poem centered on the body in pain. It’s called Pain Body right now, but titles are my least favorite things, so that may change! But I’m also working on a book-length poem that uses fairytale and mythological imagery to try to get at the struggle of childhood. I’ve been really interested in the book-length form for several years now, so I’m loving exploring that form with different subject matter.
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Andrea: I’ll be reading on June 11 at 7pm at the Bayliss Public Library (Sault Sainte Marie) with several other Michigan writers, and then will be heavily involved in Art Week June 20-27 in Marquette. I usually keep my website up to date with appearances: www.andreascarpino.com
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?
Andrea: My favorite bookstore is Snowbound in Marquette—they have such a great collection of books and journals and notecards.
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Andrea: Any place within view of the lake! I’ve always loved water and have spent most of my life living near it, whether the Ohio River or Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean, so any time I can spend near the lake is good time.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Andrea: Well. . . . there’s Beer Fest. . . . .
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Andrea: You know, there are so many interesting people in Michigan! One of the best things about moving to the UP is that I've had the chance to meet so many interesting people doing a diversity of interesting things: amazing home gardeners and builders of all sorts and visual artists and musicians and local business people—everyone I've met up here has some sort of interesting project going on. Even if it’s a side, weekend project, it’s bound to be interesting!
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Andrea: I would like people to know this is a very big and diverse state! People think of Michigan as Detroit or maybe Traverse City, but the UP is hours and hours away from either place! And we have such a rich diversity as a state. The car industry, of course, remains an important piece of what happens here, but we also have agriculture, a dedication to arts of all sorts, a rich intellectual heritage, so much to do outdoors. . . this is a very dynamic and fun state.
Debbie: Last question. Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?
Andrea: Michigander. Because it sounds like a type of geese.
Debbie: Andrea, we'll add you to the Michigander column! Congratulations on being named U.P. Poet Laureate, and thank you so much for joining us today!