Quick Temper with Abigail Kirby Conklin


Abigail Kirby Conklin lives in New York City, where she works in public education and curriculum development. Her poetry can be found in The Lampeter Review (2017), Not Very Quiet Journal (2018), Curlew Quarterly (2018), and K’in Literary Journal (2018). She can be found on social media via her universal handle: @a_k_c_poetry.

Here’s our Quick Temper with Abigail-

Why do you write? 

I was a delayed reader; couldn’t get through a book on my own until I was about seven. But I could write. There was a parent night my first grade year during which my classmates and I had to read things we had written aloud to all the parents. When I was called up, I read a full-on poem called “Evening Feelings” to the room, the words of which I had memorized somehow while writing. The adults in the room all swiveled to stare at my parents like, “what in the whole hell…?”

That’s why, or how, I write. Because I do. It doesn’t make me feel better, or improve me much as a person. It’s an organ in me that has always had to be kept healthy in order to keep me healthy. Provided, since starting to purposefully put my work out in the world, I have tacked on a caveat: I also write because I want to translate human experiences into poetry in such a way that what I write is useful to someone. I want the poetry that comes out of me to valuable to other people. To help them feel seen, or at least less alone.

Who do you hope reads your work?

Folks who really don’t like poetry, or think creative writing is not meant for them. Also, teenagers who hate reading.

Where does the anger in your work come from? How does it manifest?

Being a woman is hard. Working in public education is hard. Being an unhappy person when you want so very much to not be one is hard. My fury is fueled by how bewilderingly difficult it is to be a whole, female-identifying person. By how endless the fights against social repression and erasure are. And by how exhausted I am.

Angry book recommendations for angry readers?

Poetry from Fatimah Asghar
Poetry from Clint Smith
YA novel Split by Swati Avasthi
Grown-up novel Sula by Toni Morrison
Grown-up novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Memoir Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
Memoir The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

Abigail Kirby Conklin will be reading with An Angry Reading Series on February 9. Come through!

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