Bookmarks

Andrea McGuigan speaks with poet and instructor Brian Fanelli about the release of his new poetry collection All that Remains available via online retailers, locally at Barnes & Noble and from the publisher at www.unboundcontent.com.

How long have you been working on the material of this book?
I started working on the poems in this collection back in 2009 and 2010 when I was still a student completing my M.F.A. at Wilkes. I had poems that did not end up in Front Man, the manuscript and published chapbook that I completed while at Wilkes. Ultimately, some of those poems ended up in All That Remains. Other poems in the book were completed in 2011, and a few were added to the manuscript in 2012, after the book was accepted for publication. I’m grateful that Unbound Content, the publisher, allowed me to add a few more poems and make revisions as late as a few months ago. They were really wonderful to work with and open to changes.

Is there a narrative thread that sews the poems together, or does each piece stand alone and do its own work?
This collection doesn’t have a single narrative thread like Front Man did. Some of the poems explore what happens when relationships unravel, and some of the others poems have a working-class undertone, but there is not narrative thread. A majority of the poems were published in various magazines and literary journals before collected in this manuscript, so, for the most part, I would say they stand alone and do their own work.

Tell me about your writing process. What’s a day in Brian Fanelli’s writing space look like?
Most of my writing is done in the morning because that’s when I have the time to write. My afternoons are filled with teaching, and two nights out of the week I drive up to SUNY Binghamton for classes towards my doctorate. I get the writing done when I can, and more often than not, it’s in the early morning, before I have to go to work. I also save a lot of time on the weekends for writing and reading, and I think it’s important to make the time for writing whenever you can, no matter how hectic your day-to-day schedule is. I suppose that’s one of my favorite aspects of poetry — a few lines can be written on breaks, during those short silences. William Carlos Williams used to write lines of poetry on prescription paper when he worked as a doctor in New Jersey. He squeezed in writing during whatever free time he had, even during his busy work days.

Tell me about your influences. Do you think astute readers will be able to track these influences?
My influences are broad. William Carlos Williams is a major influence on my work, especially for the way he wrote about the every day person in his poetry and the way he used every day, colloquial speech. I also enjoy poets who use the rhythms of music in their work, particularly William Matthews and the way he used jazz rhythms to build his lines, or crafted beautiful elegies to jazz musicians. Langston Hughes is one of my favorites too, and I find myself returning to him again and again lately, not only for the way he incorporated blues and jazz in his work, but also the way he used the music as an act of protest against racial oppression, or to show how music can be an escape from hardship. I also like his depictions of Harlem and how, like Williams, he used the speech of his neighborhood in his poetry. As far as contemporary poets, I really like Terrance Hayes, Major Jackson, David Wojahn, John Murillo, and several others. Contemporary American poetry is so expansive right now, and so many exciting things are happening. There are so many different strains and movements or extensions of movements at work. I could go on and on!

Tell me the technical aspects of this collection: can readers expect experimentation, from poems, etc?
There are a few loose sonnets in the book, very short, compressed poems. Most of the poems are lyric and narrative, though. They employ an “I” speaker.

Lastly, give me all the details about your book launch.
My book launch will be Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Vintage Theater, 326 Spruce St., Scranton. I will have books for sale, and I’ll be happy to sign them. I will be doing several readings locally, including at the Hoyt Library on Monday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m., and several readings out of the area over the next few months into 2014. All of my readings can be found on my website,www.brianfanelli.com.