Quick Temper with KT Herr


KT Herr is or was: a queer poet, songwriter, and grilled cheese enthusiast; advisory board member for Write616; poetry editor for The 3288 Review; host of WYCE’s Electric Poetry; featured woman writer at Punch Drunk Press; Right-to-Write coordinator; teacher; MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College (2020). Her poems have appeared in SWWIM, MER VOX, saltfront, Pilgrimage Magazine, and more, and her nonfiction was featured in Goat’s Milk Magazine. She lives in Yonkers with someone else’s cat.

Here’s Quick Temper with KT:

Why do you write?

I always feel like this is sort of a dodge, but the first thing that comes to mind in response to this question is: how would I ever stop? Beyond this, though, I think writing is both a joyous and an efficient way to spend one’s time. It’s not just a way of processing one’s own life, but a way of creating lines of communication and communion between people. I write in order to parse as precisely as possible how I feel about a thing, and whether or not there’s anyone else feeling it.

Who do you hope reads your work?

I almost hesitate to say that this is something I hope for. When I write, I’m not thinking primarily about who I hope will read it, but about the act of communication itself, and what it means to the work. So I suppose I hope the people who read my work are those who are seeking that sort of connection, whether it’s conscious or unconscious.

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

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how compassion can coexist with anger. It’s monstrous to ask someone who has been wronged to have compassion for the wrong-doer, and yet–– what a reductive way to see the world, as though each person can be cleanly placed into the category of “doer” or “done-to”. There’s so much more to say about that, but I think anger is an oversimplified word used to refer to a vast spectrum of emotion, and we (writers) have an obligation to press our thumbs into the flesh of it and feel the structure underneath.

Angry book recommendations for angry readers?

I don’t know that they’re all angry, but currently on my reading/to-read list are: Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, feeld by Jos Charles, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and (finally!) the final book in N.K. Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy, The Stone Sky.

KT Herr will be reading with An Angry Reading Series on May 11. Come through!


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