Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Writer Wednesday: Kristin Garth

If you read varied enough, once in a while you come across someone whose voice is so unique and authentic that you can’t help but pay attention. Knowing so many indie authors, I’ve been blessed to read some really unique voices in both prose and poetry. In the case of Kristin Garth, she is another very unique voice and an interesting human for several reasons. During these times of polarizing topics and the fight for equality and expression, Garth presents us with a unique version of what sexuality can be and it’s my pleasure to have her on For Writing Out Loud. So let’s get to it and dive right into the questions.

1. Hi, Kristin and thanks for visiting our corner of the net. Tell us, who is Kristin Garth, how do you describe yourself and what should people expect if they read you?
Thank you, JD. Wow, that’s a question I could write a novel about and not entirely answer. Kristin Garth is a complicated creature – she’s a womanchild, as you’ve read before. The definition of that, to me, is a chronologically mature adult woman but with aspects of a younger person. In Pink Plastic House, my first chapbook I quantify that emotional age with a poem called Sixteen. For those of you who would like to read it, you can at Speculative 66 here: (page 17). I tell people in the annotations in Pink Plastic House (I write my thoughts in pink ink about the poem's teenage diary style to people who buy the books through my Twitter or my website ), though my chronological age is decidedly too shocking to mention, my emotional age varies on a good, confident day from about 16 (as this poem describes) and dips on a sad, insecure day to about 12. 

An example of this womanchildness you are aware of from reading Pink Plastic House is that I stripped for a living for five years of my life, a very womanly career, of course. However, I did this in catholic schoolgirl and cheerleading uniforms accessorized with things like heart-shaped sunglasses and Blowpops. And at night when I was done taking off my clothes for a living, I often played with my Barbie Dreamhouse or purchased items to acccesorize it from a Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. It was how I engaged both sides of myself in this career. There are always these two sides of my nature.
This womanchildness, as I call it, is a direct result, for me, of my abuse history which I talk about often in my work. I spoke with a friend recently about abuse and how, for the two of us, we had a part of ourselves stunted that we very much feel in our day to day lives. It sounds totally negative speaking of it this way. It certainly started negative. I’ve learned though that this stunted part of me deserves a life and pleasure, like kneesocks, lollipops, and dollhouses. I try to keep her nurtured and let her heal.
For my last birthday of draconian digits, I wanted to forget because they don’t define how I feel at all, I wrote myself a birthday sonnet. It’s called Nymphette, which defines how I feel and isn’t, for me defined by a number. You can read it here.

2. It’s always a treat to have you participate in #SockItToMe with the #SockFamily. Tell us, when did your fixation with socks begin and what do socks mean to you?
I’ve always loved socks. It partially comes from an insecurity about my toes that stems from some childhood playground commentary. I wrote a CNF about that will be in Sidereel Magazine in November. It’s called "Toe".

I grew up in Florida which for a good part of the year is incredibly hot and a sandal mecca. I’ve never felt so happy about my feet. In fact, I made a joke with a girl on Twitter that inspired this CNF piece actually where I tweeted, “I stripped for five years and never showed a toe.” It really only struck me then how deep this psychological compulsion to wear socks is for me. I stripped for five years down to a g-string and high heels, but I always wore either ankle or knee socks. I never showed a toe.

I’ve always thought socks are my security blanket. A sock loving friend of mine said once “socks are hugs for the feet.” I like that a lot. I’m sure the security blanket feel, for me, comes from feeling like I was hiding something I was teased about (a longer second toe – scandalous). I think it’s ironic that I’ve become very known in the Twitter community for my socks and my legs because the sock obsession started as a way to hide what I saw as a deficiency. I think it’s a fundamental part of my personality that I turn negatives in my life into trademarks. I think I’ve done that with the stripping – a thing a lot of people might hide but I embrace in my writing.

3. Your poetry definitely feels as real as it gets. How personal is poetry to you and how much do you enjoy people wondering what’s true and what’s fiction in your verses?

I write a lot of poetry – almost every day for the last two years. I recently took a two-day break, meant to be a week. That didn’t happen. The point of me telling you this is I write a lot of stuff. Some of my poems are very autobiographical. Usually when those are promoted on Twitter I own that. Pink Plastic House has a lot of autobiographical poems in it like the title poem that was originally published in Anti-Heroin Chic here.
However there are plenty of poems in there that I didn’t live through, too, like the definitely fictional poem Little Brick House (that is one of the first sonnets I wrote after coming back to writing after a 15-year-plus break. I joined a writing/critiquing site to get back into writing after I made the commitment to write again. A man contacted me on social media, whom I’d been involved with when I was in grad school. I knew him before I dropped out to strip, to have financial freedom from abuse. He was dying of a brain tumor, had lost most of his ability to write and reminded me who I was. I started writing a novel, joined this site. Inside the novel I wrote sonnets for one of the characters. This was one of them.
I’m sure in this example, it’s hard for a lot of people to tell the difference between my fictional poems and my non-ficitonal poems, free standing in journals. That doesn’t really bother me. I have two books coming out that I call poetic memoirs because they are poems that tell true events. Candy Cigarette (Womanchild Noir) tells the story of me stripping in the Deep South in pigtails and cheerleading uniforms, dating, living as a sex worker in a highly  
puritanical society. Puritan U is a book about my sexual assault at Brigham Young University many years ago. It’s a prequel of sorts to the former book, how a very sheltered Mormon girl becomes a stripper – for me that path was abuse as a child, Utah, sexual assault.

4. If you had to design your own lollipop or lip gloss flavor, what would you call it and what would it taste like?

I would call it Unbearably Hot but I’d have to get licensing from Jelly Belly because that’s the trademark of my favorite Cinnamon Bears, they are so tiny and incredibly hot. So it would be an homage and require me being very wealthy (as I’m not at all) to pull it off. It would taste like the hottest cinnamon and be super glossy red, but it would be sweet like a teddy bear, too. This is all totally me and my aesthetic. This may be my favorite question ever asked in an interview. I love it.

5. Ageism, sexism, and so many isms have a way of trying to silence us. What’s your response to all the naysayers and all the isms you have to face?
I’ll start with ageism. I think it’s so prevalent. I feel like it’s the luckiest thing in the world that I have a young looking face though I used to hate it when I was young. When I was in college back in Florida after I returned from Brigham Young, I was 22, and I went to dinner with my parents and the waitress brought a 12 and under menu. I wrote a sonnet talking about this incident called Your Body Is His Blessing, how at this time of my life it was just one more thing about my body that I felt oppressed by.

Now, I do see my youthfulness as a blessing because I think society has a big obsession with youth. I think it helps me that for the superficial they see my socks and my babyface, and they read the work. If they read it closely, they’ll pick up on that I am clearly not a girl in my 20’s, but they’ve read me and then they can judge me on my work.

I think ageism and sexism are prevalent and terrible. Artists should be judged on their work – not the year their parents decided to have a child or the gender they were born into. No one should discriminate against a poet because they are a certain age, old or young or a certain gender. We all have our own stories to tell reflecting the lives we live, and they are all valuable, unique, and extraordinary if we are brave enough to tell them.

5. Every day, women of all colors, ages, and creeds have to face scrutiny, censorship, and inappropriate behavior from the male population. How freeing is expressing yourself under your own rules and if you could share a message with men and women of all ages, what would you say to them?
There are a lot of problems women writers have to face when we put out intimate details of our sexuality or abuse into our poetry. The power of poetry is truth, candor woven artfully with words into something else, but it’s that truth inside of it that resonates in the heart. To be a poet, you have to be vulnerable and trust people with information that can be used against you, if a person has malicious intent.

I wrote a poem called Preditor about my own experience when I was new, submitting my first manuscript (Pink Plastic House.) I was led on by someone who read my works, was well aware of my abuse history and made me feel that I needed to keep him interested in me in order to pursue a publishing deal.

None of that ever came to be. It was a learning experience. There are power imbalances in any community, the literary community as well.

Editors have a lot of power, and people want to please them, want their books and poems published.

Some editors abuse their power, and when they do I think in our community poets can be uniquely exposed and vulnerable, many with histories, triggers, published and searchable. I would say that people that abuse the privilege and responsibility of being an editor to gratify themselves are predators. They take people’s greatest dreams and defile them with their desire for sexual gratification, and they make me very angry.

I am now an editor of my own poetry column that is becoming in March a mini-journal within a larger journal that hosts, Rhythm & Bones Lit. It’s called The Sonnetarium. I take the privilege of publishing people very seriously. Art is a refuge for a lot of people who have suffered terribly, and we should not play a part in creating further suffering. We are privileged to make and publish art, and we should all treat people with respect. 

6. Poetry is definitely your strong suit but it seems very cathartic. How important is poetry in your life and what role has it played in your evolution as a human?
Poetry is everything to me. It is how I get through a day, process pain. It’s how I make sense of the world. I’m not in therapy, and I haven’t been since college when it was included with my tuition. Poetry is my therapy. I know it’s that for a lot of people. It’s another reason I feel it’s very sacred and should not be violated by abusers because for some very wounded people this is what we have.

Publishing poetry in the last two years since I started doing that has connected me to the earth again, to artists. I live in a small town. I’m a recluse. I’m not a person who is in circles with artists in my day to day life. I write a poem, publish it and sign on to Twitter and engage with other artists about it. It’s magical. It’s given such a confidence as a human I never had before.

I love to read other people’s work and find familiarity and communion there. I feel less alone even if I don’t know these people as bodies in the physical world.

They are my Twitter soulmates, and when I’m alone in my house, when I’m breaking into tears on a bad day making small talk at the grocery store, I know that I am more than this crying mess in real life. I have people that love me, read me, support me and feel as isolated in ways as I do. Poetry has given me a universe.

7. I had the utter delight of reading an annotated copy of your collection “Pink Plastic House”. How did the idea to annotate come about and describe people’s response to having something so wonderfully personal with their collection?
Thank you so much for responding to my annotation. I’m really honored that you enjoyed it. I got the idea of doing annotations from some female poets I saw on Twitter, two in the matter of a week I saw offering annotated copies. I knew people signed copies, but I had no idea that people annotated them. It was an idea though that I instantly fell in love with. I made a little tweet offering annotated copies for $15 including shipping and I instantly got my first order. I’ve made so many of them now, and I love doing them.

When you write sonnets (which I primarily do – I have now published more Shakespearean sonnets than Shakespeare), you only have 14 lines to play with. As you can tell from this interview I am very long winded. I like the constraint. It makes me be dense and get to the point. It is, of course, by its very nature limited. What I love about annotations is that you have the beauty and brevity of the poetry, but then I write little notes explaining other details just conversationally on the page. Someone compared it to watching a movie with a director’s commentary track. I always love those, and so I love that comparison.

People have been so kind about the annotations. I feel like it’s a chance for them to get to know me outside of 14 lines, kneesocks, and provocative or emotional tweets. They feel like penpal letters with my Twitter friends, and it always feels like a gift from the universe when I get to do one.

8. You are given the opportunity to do a Broadway or theater show. What would be the title and what would be happening on stage?
Shakespeare for Sociopaths, for sure, would be the title, and is the title of my chapbook being published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in January of 2019. It is a chapbook of all Shakespearean sonnets on sociopathic characters in true crime, movies, my imagination, some who were in my bed. When I came up with the title for this chapbook, I told a friend, and he said that is such a great title it sounds likes a broadway show. So it’s the obvious choice. 

The action on the stage would be a series of vignettes -- historical figures, serial killers, boyfriends, horror movie villains, family members acting out, singing songs about some of their sociopathic deeds. Of course, there would be perhaps a heightened level of absurdity attached to singing sociopaths. They made a Broadway musical of American Psycho though so, you know, I think it’s possible. 

9. You’re extremely prolific in your writing, give us a summary of what you’ve written so far and where people read you and connect with the amazing, socktastic, and powerfully poetic Kristin Garth?
I have a website that has links to a lot of my published poetry, sonnets, creative non-fictions and even a short story. It’s – it’s lacking about half of my published work. I’m always too busy writing to completely keep up with it, and I’m not great at tech. I’ve done a lot of work on it recently though, and it’s improving a lot. It has links to all of my books which include Pink Plastic House (available now, on my website or through Maverick Duck Press), Shakespeare for Sociopaths (January, via Hedgehog Poetry Press), Puritan U (March, Rhythm & Bones Lit) and Candy Cigarettes (April, Hedgehog Poetry Press). I also have two collaborative chapbooks, one on abuse, Pensacola Girls, with the poet Elisabeth Horan (available now through Bone & Ink Press) and an erotic collaboration, Good Girl Games, with the poet Yara S. Nerida (available now through my website and through Maverick Duck Press.) I have two anthologies I’m editing one on the Slenderman called Mansion, co-edited by Justin Karcher, that will be published by Dancing Girl Press in February of 2019. Then I have another, You Are Not Your Rape, co-edited by Tianna Hansen, a sexual assault anthology being published by Tianna’s press Rhythm & Bones Lit. I have 311 publications since I started writing again less than two years ago. You can always catch up with those on both my Twitter: @lolaandjolie and my website


Here are links to a few poems I really like:

What is Dead

The Lady Who Loved Lightning

Ophelia Interrupted

Pink Plastic Houses



My sincerest thanks to Kristin Garth for this amazing interview and the generosity with time and her answers. Below is some info on things to keep an eye out for and places where you can contact her. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart & Best of the Net nominated sonnet stalker. Her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Yes, Five:2: One, Anti-Heroin Chic, Former Cactus, Occulum, Luna Luna, & many more. She has a chapbook Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), three forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Lit March 2019) Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press). 

Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie), her weekly poetry column ( and her website (

No comments:

Post a Comment