Welcome back to our special Q&A series with Old Iron Press authors. Today, we are thrilled to present Playing Authors contributor, Devon Balwit.
Devon Balwit walks in all weather. Her most recent collections are Rubbing Shoulders with the Greats (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020), Dog-Walking in the Shadow of Pyongyang (Nixes Mate Books, 2021), and Spirit Spout (Nixes Mate Books, 2023).
At OIP, we love the fact that everyone has their own set of “classics” (i.e., books, songs, recipes, comics, food, objects, movies, shows, etc. that shaped you). What were some of your favorite childhood classics?
As a teenager, I loved sci fi. It was one of the few genres which examined and questioned gender expectations and offered alternative worldviews. In addition, the authors played around with linguistics to create functional languages, which, as a language lover, I enjoy! Sci-fi authors I especially like are Ursula K. Le Guin [Left Hand of Darkness] and Mary Doria Russell [Children of God and Eye on the Sparrow].
What inspired your piece for Playing Authors?
As an adult, ironically, I've gone backwards--revisiting canonical literature. I wrote a chapbook and a poetry collection inspired by Moby Dick, another inspired by Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, another inspired by the works of Thomas Mann. Another great Victorian novelist I highly recommend is George Gissing, who wrote about social class like no one I've ever read before as well as gender roles. [i.e. New Grub Street and The Odd Women]. I love Eastern European writers--Olga Tokarczuk and Tadeusz Konwicki. Love to read in both Spanish and French. [Authors writing in Spanish that I love are Guadalupe Nettel, Mario Vargas-Llosa, Javier Cercas.] I keep a journal in which I respond to quotations which catch my eye. All of this feeds my poetry.
Thank you so much, Devon! We love what you make, and we’re so excited to publish your work.