Behind The Scenes
Welcome to Marcelle Newbold’s author interview blog, in which we share glimpses behind the making of poetry collections, artistic collaborations, novels and anthologies. This week Marcelle chats with Kari Flickinger about her new collection CEILING FAN.
Ceiling Fan is your second collection, tell us a bit about the history of this collection . . .
Ceiling Fan is a weird one. It’s a hyper focus on a night when I waited for a phone call and stared at the ceiling fan in my living room. It’s basically a film noir exploration of an extended period of limerence. Of recognizing obsession in myself and how that obsession can lead to repetitive behaviors in my environment—you know, those cycles and loops we make for ourselves. It’s really about the displacement of grief and heartbreak worsening psychosis that I didn’t know I was experiencing. It took 35 years to find out I was actively dealing with extreme symptoms of mental illness. Finding out about mental illness that late in life is a bit like being lost in Wonderland for a bit and then waking to find Toto growling at you. You’ve lost the story you’re in and even the genial bits are menacing.
Will you tell us about the major themes and ideas explored, and why you were compelled to develop this body of work ?
Limerence. Repetition. Elevation of the mundane. Sometimes a ceiling fan is a ceiling fan. Sometimes it’s an exercise in slow time. Sometimes it’s a placeholder for quantum entanglement. Sometimes it stops and stares back. Someone once told me to ‘look up’ and it was good advice. It reminded me of the times I had looked up and become stuck to the ceiling. In a lot of ways, this body of work developed me more than I developed it. It took about ten years to get it out, but when it did come, it was a needed catharsis. I wanted to let it be conversational and a little messier than usual because the work required that. Sometimes it loses meaning, words, makes extra space, or confuses punctuation. This is all by design. This story goes a lot of mundane or daily places. A call-center. A third-floor walk-up. The desert. The underworld. The living room. Into the body. Out of the body. It taught me a new kind of love and I hope that journey resonates for others.
What has been the most enjoyable or satisfying part of the process ?
I read from this book at an open mic night and I could feel the words connecting with the audience. It made me feel like this is a really special body of work. One of the most enrapturing experiences for a writer is that chance to witness the connection to something you’ve created. If someone sees themselves in it, or tries to interpret the work, or even just reaches out and says they really felt it. Creation is its own reward, but sometimes that chance to see the connection or impact makes it feel so worthwhile.
CEILING FAN by Kari Flickinger
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