BT: Did you ever buy a poetry book just because of its title?
JANICE: I have not bought poetry books because of their titles, but I will admit to being swayed by very convincing in-person sales pitches/author photos. Most of the poetry I buy is bought because I like the person who wrote it and I want to know more about what goes on in their head. Or because they are very very cute.
BT: After I've read a really good poem, I always find myself in a writing mood. How do you feel after you've read a really good poem?
JANICE: I feel like something just popped. I lift my head up like a prairie dog to see what the new sound was and survey the surroundings from this different place, different mood, different awareness. I also feel, usually, boggle-eyed appreciation, if not downright jealousy.
BT: On the website Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos, tattoos from literature are showcased. Is there a poem or line from a poem that you'd consider getting tattooed on you?
JANICE: I would consider getting a temporary tattoo of Frank O'Hara's "Lana Turner Has Collapsed" on my back, or maybe some Whitman, or some Sappho. Never any Erlbaum, though, because she's a hack.
BT: It's 9 p.m., are you...
a.) just putting the finishing touches on a poem? b.) just beginning a poem? c.) reading a poem? d.) not even thinking about poetry?
JANICE: If it's 9pm, I'm probably on the couch watching a TV show about hoarders, or reading a book. I consider both of these activities to be "researching my next poem."
BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?
JANICE: If I could suggest Bobby Miller, I would, but he suggested me! I will suggest a slam poet I recently met, Ceez.
Janice Erlbaum is the author of GIRLBOMB (Villard, '06) and HAVE YOU FOUND HER (Villard, '08). A former member of the Pussy Poets, she's been published in several anthologies including ALOUD: Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, for which she was the cover girl.