Oliver de la Paz | January 18, 2013

Oliver de La Paz 

1. Where are you now? 

I live in the Foothills of Mt. Baker, about 25 miles outside of Bellingham, Washington, and about 20 minutes away from the Canadian/US Border.


2. What are you working on and what have you got coming out?


I’m concurrently working on three book manuscripts at the moment. One manuscript is a series of inter-related prose poems that are loosely based on the Theseus/Minotaur myth, the second manuscript is a series of ekphrastic poems informed by the work of Eadweard Muybridge who pioneered many inventions that were seen as the precursor to motion pictures, and a series of epistolary prose poems currently entitled my “Dear Empire,” poems. I tend to write in long sequences and when I get stuck or bored with a sequence, I jump to another project. I’ll intermittently jump between projects to keep things fresh in my brain. When I find that I’m spending less and less time jumping back to a project, then I figure that it’s time to work on structure and send the work out.

3. Where do you write?

I used to have an office inside the house, but since the birth of our third son, I had been migrating from the living room couch to the kitchen table to the kitchen counter. My son kicked me out of my old office that we converted into a nursery. However we recently took out a loan and constructed a garage/office space which is roughly thirty yards away from the main house. I finished tiling, installing drywall, and installing shelving this past August, so that’s my new writing space. It’s really a great space. The office is about 12x12 with wall-to-wall shelves and an unreliable internet connection.


4. What’s the last best thing you’ve read?


I just finished Kevin Prufer’s In A Beautiful Country which was a book I had been meaning to read but didn’t start until my teaching quarter began again. I also finished Traci Brimhall’s Our Lady of the Ruins and Eduardo Corral’s Slow Lightning. All great books and all are books I’m teaching in my courses this Fall quarter.

5. What journals, poets, presses have you discovered lately?

For journals, I really like what Jonathan Farmer is doing with At Length Magazine. I tend to write in sequences and series—longer forms, and At Length has been publishing longer sustained pieces. I’m also a fan of Memorious. As far as poetry discoveries are concerned, I’ve been reading the work of Sawako Nakayasu recently. I’m really interested in the way she sustains her concerns over the duration of a book. I’ve also been really interested in what Gold Wake Press is publishing these days.


6. Care to share any distractions / diversions?

When the kids are awake, I’m a full-time dad. Basically all my attention is devoted to my three boys. When they’re asleep, my biggest distractions are Facebook and video games. I just finished playing Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City. I’ll probably stay away from the video games for awhile, though. The teaching year is starting to get very busy.


7. What are you looking forward to?


I’m looking forward to AWP in Boston. I haven’t been back to Boston since the late 80s. I’m looking forward to the Spring. We’ve just entered the rainy season and it’s been cold and blustery. I’m looking forward to having my four-year old moved into Kindergarten because he’s currently in a half-day of pre-kindergarten and I spend my mornings with him before the bus picks him up to go to school. Once he’s in kindergarten, I’ll have more time in the morning to catch up with all the house work!

Bonus Questions:



How important is music to you?

I’ve always listened to music while writing. I bought a pair of Sendheiser headphones for my son who needed them for his music therapy (he’s on the autistic spectrum and one of the therapies is desensitization to sound). I liked them so much that I bought myself a pair. And what’s great about them is they’re not noise-cancelling, but they’re noise and sound enhancing. They allow me to hear all the little clicks, hisses, and incidental sounds that a pair of noise-cancelling headphones would otherwise mute out. Anyway, I put these headphones on and listen to ambient music—Balmorhea, Explosions in the Sky, some Boris, The Dirty Three, The Books, and The Rachel’s—all bands that I listen to while I’m writing. I’ll also listen to classical jazz by Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Thelonius Monk.

Do you return to your books after they’re published?


Not really. I’m more interested in creating new work than I am revisiting old work. I will read one or two poems from the older books for a featured reading, but generally I find myself steering away from the older stuff.



What are you afraid of?

All my fears are fatherly and familial. I’m afraid for my son who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome this past Spring. We’ve been hopping between daycare situations and haven’t been able to find an ideal situation for him. He wants to be in school, but he has so much difficulty associating with kids his age. I’m afraid of my debts which are not insurmountable, but are slowly increasing due to the therapies we’ve been enrolled in for our son. I’m afraid of neglecting the other two boys while spending so much time with my child with special needs. I’m afraid of neglecting my relationship with my wife. You know, family and fatherly stuff scares me the most.

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