Welcome to the first installment in our special Q&A series with Old Iron Press authors.
We are thrilled to present Playing Authors contributor, Frances Cannon.
I am a writer, artist, and educator. I teach at Burlington City Arts and the Current: A Center for Contemporary Art. I recently served as the Managing Director of the Sundog Poetry Center. I have previously taught at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Vermont Commons School, Champlain College, University of Iowa, and the Shelburne Craft School. I have an MFA in creative writing from Iowa and a BA in poetry and printmaking from the University of Vermont. My published books include: Walter Benjamin: Reimagined, MIT Press, The Highs and Lows of Shapeshift Ma and Big-Little Frank, Gold Wake Press, Tropicalia, Vagabond Press, Sagittaria, Bottlecap Press, Predator/Play, Ethel Press, Uranian Fruit, Honeybee Press, and Image Burn, a limited edition art book. I have worked for The Iowa Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, The Believer, and The Lucky Peach. My work has been published in The New York Times,Poetry Northwest, The Iowa Review, The Green Mountain Review, Vice, Lithub, The Moscow Times, The Examined Life Journal, Gastronomica, Electric Lit, Edible magazine, Mount Island, Fourth Genre, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
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?
I was named after Frances the badger in the children's book series, my favorite of which is of course Bread and Jam for Frances. It's lucky that I also love bread and jam, otherwise it would have been an unfortunate namesake.
My favorite novel has, for most of my life, been Housekeepingby Marilynn Robinson. I love how dark and lonely it is—the story of orphaned two sisters who live in a dilapidated house and are looked after by a vagabond aunt—yet also contains humor and beauty. Films, off the top of my head, Rushmore, Wes Anderson, Down by Law, Jim Jarmusch, and randomly The Secret of Roan Inish.
What inspired your piece for Playing Authors?
I spend most of my time reading, writing, and illustrating, and I wanted to depict the combination of these activities in a painting.
Favorite word / font / letter?
The word that I seem to be using the most frequently in 2023 is "arbitrary".
Where would your adventure be set: underwater or in space?
I admit to being a Star Wars fan, and the enterprise presents so many compelling visions of other planets; adventures abound!
Snacks while you work? If yes, what’s your go-to?
I'm a snack fiend. I've been eating a lot of yogurt with maple lately, and I drink way too many cups of coffee every day. A good slice of toast with an egg is also a beloved treat.
What are some of your favorite tools-of-the-trade?
Watercolor paints and micropens
You are hosting a party. Who’s coming? Where and when? What’s being served? (Fictional characters and locales are welcome.)
Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville West, the fictional character Orlando, Carson McCullers, David Bowie, Tilda Swinton. We'll start with negronis and a massive cheese and charcuterie board, then handmade pasta and a few bottles of wine, then flaming pudding for dessert, served with amaro. Then a long game of Scrabble.
What mashups do you wish existed?
Princess Bride meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
What are some things you enjoy doing off-screen?
I have an active little dog who is a good excuse to get out of the house and into the woods, many times a day.
Any recommendations for the OIP community? What have you been enjoying lately?
I recently read Everything the Light Touches, by Janice Pariat. It's part-historical-fiction, part invention, and each section contains an appreciation for botany. The first section takes place in India with a young Indian woman trying to solve the mystery of secret Uranium mines in remote villages, second section follows a young female botanist traveling from London to India in search of a plant, and so on. There are references to Goethe and Linneaus and watercolor botanical illustrations, what more could I ask for! In any case, I recommend it.
Thank you so much, Frances. We love what you make, and we’re so excited to publish your work.