Contributors’ Corner: Ace Boggess

Welcome to our new interview series, “Contributors’ Corner,” where we open the floor each week to one of our contributors to the journal. This week, we hear from Ace Boggess, whose poems appear in 2.2 and HFR 3.3 (preorder) and story, with Jessica Lynn Hall, “You Shouldn’t Have Done It,” appears in 3.1.

Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?

I laugh to think of this now, but I owe much of the direction of my writing to Fangoria magazine. Early on, I wanted to write horror, and even published a few terrible stories and poems in small horror mags. I always stopped in to the Waldenbooks (remember those?), squatted down in front of the magazine rack and read through Fangoria, or sometimes just looked at the pictures for cool horror movies coming out soon. In one issue, I saw a photo of Peter Weller in fifties get-up standing next to a slimy green alien-looking thing, and thought, I have to see that. The movie was David Cronenberg’s interpretation of Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Young and not knowing any better, I rented that movie and it amazed and disturbed me, although frankly I couldn’t understand half of it. So, young genius that I was, I thought I would understand it better by reading the novel. What a mistake. That was like trying to wash mud off my shoes by rinsing them in the sewer. To this day, it’s the craziest thing I’ve read. But I loved it. It completely changed my way of looking at the world. My writing after that took more and more literary turns, as did the types of movies I watched and books I read. So, thank you Fangoria. I mean, why not, right?

What are you reading?

Right now, I’m rereading Kawabata’s Snow Country for prose, while enjoying Matthew Lippman’s American Chew in poetry.

Can you tell us what prompted your work in HFR?

For the most part, my poetry has two steps: photograph and meditate. I look for a moment or a scene or a person, describe it or her and try to figure out what this means by writing about it, or at least what it mean to me. That’s what these three poems are—waiting for the mail to run, a squirrel dropping his bounty, and the death of a teacher I hadn’t thought about in years—they’re visualizations and explorations. I guess it’s like watching Naked Lunch that first time. I’m still trying to understand what eludes me. It’s just that now I look for the source material inside.

What’s next? What are you working on?

My second book, The Prisoners, should be out any day now from Brick Road Poetry Press. I’ve edited galleys and a proof copy that was gorgeous. So, I’m focusing on that at the moment. But I try to write every day: poetry and short stories mostly now, though I’m also trying to find homes for a few novels I wrote before my incarceration. That they never sold still haunts me. Anyway, there’s always work to do.

Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything.

At the risk of offending my target audience, I believe the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup this year. Their greatness is astounding. But that’s enough controversy for one day.

Read Ace’s poems in HFR 2.2 and HFR 3.3 and his story, with Jennifer Lynn Hall, “You Shouldn’t Have Done It,” in HFR 3.1.

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