An Interview with Sonia Greenfield

Posted in: Books

Sonia Greenfield is the author of our newest collection, All Possible Histories, which is now available for pre-order! The book will be published on 1 December 2022, and pre-orders will ship mid-November. We interviewed her so you could get to know her a little better!

Sonia Greenfield

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How long did it take you to write All Possible Histories? What was your process for pulling it together?

I probably started APH about ten years ago, if you consider a manuscript started with the first poem written from the collection. The book was originally called A Pony Called Loneliness, but then it grew and grew and had to become two manuscripts. In the way that it morphed over the years, the original title no longer unified the collection.

In terms of “pulling it together” and distinguishing the poems for this book and for the other manuscript, Mist Connections, I tried to select poems that were more maternal and less bitter for All Possible Histories, and I saved all the angry shit for Mist Connections. I do try to thread ghosts through All Possible Histories as a kind of glue along with the vagaries of fate and chance as the webbing that holds it all together.

Sonia Greenfield’s manuscripts

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What’s a favorite poem from the collection? Why?

I love “I Want a Pony” because the poem enacts the accompanying epigraph. I also love “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn” because it reimagines what the original story was meant to imply. Poetry can rewrite reality and make magic that can last for as long as you live in the realm of that poem. Whenever I have to read the poem out loud, I always tear up at the end when I imagine the mutant baby’s tentacle caressing his mother’s face. I feel more affinity, always, for outsiders.

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What’s your writing routine look like? How has the pandemic changed it?

It’s chaos. I’m chaos. I’m really beginning to understand how much ADHD has affected my ability to complete anything. This just means that I have to keep meticulous weekly to-do lists that actually say things like “write new poem” and “revise old poem,” but if my life is noisy with the needs of others, I can’t get anything done. It also just means that I need more time than just what is necessary for writing a poem. I need to ruminate and hold it in my brain for a while. This is all just to say that my routine is anything but routine.

With regards to the pandemic, that’s when I started with the to-do lists and also when I went back on Welbutrin. I had taken it for a while to deal with depression triggered by miscarriages, but the pandemic affected my ability to get anything done. I would pinball around my house all day and not get anything done. It made me feel unhinged. Thus, Welbutrin, which is also used off-market as a non-stimulant medication for ADHD.

The best thing I ever did for my writing was take a trip last summer for four days with three very good friends who are also mothers. This is something I will need to make time for more often in my life. Just all of that dedicated time and space just for writing. It’s a kind of selfishness I crave while paradoxically wanting to give all of myself to my family.

Who are your favorite poets?

I have a lot, but I’ll just mention two dead ones for now: Brigit Pegeen Kelly and Larry Levis. Kelly for her use of allegory and Levis for the exploratory nature of his poems.

What are you reading right now?

I just got done reading and reviewing Liar by Jessica Cuello. It’s so good, and I see so much of my own life in the experiences of the speaker of her poems. I’m reading Matthew Olzmann’s Constellation Route. I’m also slowly and deliciously working my way through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’ll add that I made it through my entire backlog of New Yorker magazines that had grown into a daunting pile. I feel like I deserve a fucking medal or something. 

What’s your favorite non-writing activity?

Alpine Skiing. I also like sleeping.

The poet and her husband on the slopes!

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What is one good thing that came out of the pandemic for you? (We hope to stop asking this question soon but sadly, we’re not there yet!)

A better understanding of how my brain works and, therefore, being less hard on myself for what I have perceived as shortcomings when, in fact, it’s always been neurodivergence.

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