Abigail Welhouse’s writing has appeared in the Heavy Feather Review, The Toast, Yes Poetry, Lyre Lyre, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She studies poetry and translation in the MFA program at the City College of New York, where she received the Meyer Cohn Graduate Award for Literature. To see a photo of her drinking wine with a polar bear and read more of her poems, please visit about.me/welhouse. She would also love if you would tell her your all-time favorite word via Twitter: @welhouse.
Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?
The moments when I read something, and wish that I had written it.
What are you reading?
Poetry by Elaine Equi and Amy Gerstler, and essays by Joan Didion. I just finished The White Album and next I plan to slouch through Bethlehem.
Can you tell us what prompted your poems in HFR?
I think a lot about St. Mary of Nazareth. I’m never sure what to call her, because she’s either defined by virginity (“The Virgin Mary”) or motherhood (“Mary, Mother of God”). “St. Mary of Nazareth” isn’t a perfect name, either, because then she’s defined by where she came from. HFR published several poems of mine in issue 2.2, including a few of these Mary poems. I like to imagine her secret thoughts, as well as how she would react to modern conundrums such as whether to become an egg donor.
What’s next? What are you working on?
Right now, I’m in my final semester of my MFA at the City College of New York, writing nonfiction and working on my thesis project—which is a collection of poems about God, celebrity, and desire. I hate the word “desire,” but there you go. You know what word I love, though? “Endling.” It’s a word for someone or something that is the last of its species.
Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?
Someone recently teased me at a party for being both a food co-op member and a credit union member. I’m a parody of myself. Also, my entire freezer is full of compost that I haven’t been able to convince myself to lug to the farmer’s market in winter.
If you’re lucky enough to know someone who wants to make you happy, you should tell them how. Here’s how to delight me: arrive early at the poetry reading, save me a seat, and have pizza and bourbon ready when I arrive.