In our first installment of Vintage Sundress, a series which will check in with our authors in a “where are they now” style, intern Lauren Sutherland interviews Sandra Marchetti, author of Confluence, a book of poems published in December 2014. Sandra’s lighthearted dialogue is refreshing to take in, and her joy in sharing her story as an encouragement to others is such a sweet read. We hope you enjoy!
Lauren Sutherland: What has changed for you since Confluence was published?
Sandra Marchetti: Confluence succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and I am so grateful to the literary community for embracing the book the way they did. This is due in no small part to the commitment of Sundress—saving the day and publishing the book after my first publisher temporarily shuttered—and a lot of hustle and the goodwill of others. The book was reviewed in some of my dream destinations: The Rumpus, Rain Taxi, andThe Kansas City Star to name a few. The book sold almost 500 copies (I believe). I didn’t think that was possible for a poetry book from a small press. I took my book cross country (the South and the Midwest, really) on a reading tour that lasted a whole summer. Confluence was a dream-maker.
Sutherland: Has the publishing of Confluence altered your perspective on the literary community?
Marchetti: One thing I learned was that the literary community is willing to embrace you when you have something new to offer. It’s harder when your latest book-length work is a few years old (for better or worse). That’s natural. It’s the way consumerism works. On the positive side, it taught me that if you’re willing to hustle, assemble a good team behind you, build some connections, folks are willing to give you a chance and invite you into their digital and physical spaces.
Sutherland: Was your rise to publication smooth or a struggle? What obstacles did you face?
Marchetti: It was a struggle, but maybe it needed to be. Many first books are. The book was my MFA thesis, so I began work on it nearly 8 years before it was published. The book went through many iterations. I sent it to nearly 200 open reading periods/contests before it was accepted anywhere. I had very few encouraging notes from publishers, and the farthest I made it in a contest was as a “quarterfinalist” once.
The privilege I had was some money behind me to keep sending and to go on residencies. Without that, I might have been out of the game. Once the book was accepted, the press stalled, then shuttered (see above) and the book was homeless again. Erin Elizabeth Smith asked to see the manuscript and she took care of the rest, shepherding it into the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the story.
Sutherland: What is something worth noting about being published that you would want unpublished writers to know?
Marchetti: It’s cyclical. I’m in a down period right now—not publishing as much as in the years immediately before, during, and after Confluence came out. I’m still learning that that’s okay. The biggest thing is to gain trust in yourself. It was a long time before I stopped thinking during a dry spell, “I’ll never get published again,” or “I’ll never write again.” I always do. It takes time to learn that, and publishing does help to boost confidence, for better or worse. My first chapbook publication, The Canopy, in 2012, pushed me to finish Confluence.
Sutherland: Have you published other full-length works or chapbooks since being published at Sundress?
Marchetti: I have published two chapbooks since Confluence. Heart Radicals, a collaborative chapbook of love poems,and Sight Lines, an e-chap that’s part lyric essay and part poetry. Before Confluence, I probably wouldn’t have pursued either of these projects. Publishing Confluence really opened me up to other kinds of books—collaborations, cross-genre work, publishing a book entirely online—none of these things were projects I saw myself participating in previously. Once I got my “dream” publication, I decided it was time to “play.”
Sutherland: What are you working on now?
Marchetti: I’ve been drafting two full-length manuscripts since the week after Confluence was first picked up, and they are finally gaining some maturity as projects. Aisle 228 is a book of baseball poems about the Chicago Cubs, going to ballgames with my dad, and listening to baseball on the radio. I’m also working on a book of poems about influence—poetic and environmental—that’s sort of akin to Confluence. The second work is on the back burner right now as I’m starting to send out Aisle 228 to publishers. It’s an exciting time.
Sandra Marchetti is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from SundressPublications (2015). She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays, including Heart Radicals (About Editions, 2018), Sight Lines (Speaking of Marvels Press, 2016), A Detail in the Landscape (Eating Dog Press, 2014), and The Canopy (MWC Press, 2012). Sandra’s poetry appears widely in Poet Lore, Blackbird, Ecotone, Southwest Review, River Styx, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Whiskey Island, Mid-American Review, Barrelhouse, Pleiades, and other venues. Sandy earned an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from George Mason University and now serves as the Coordinator of Tutoring Services at the College of DuPage in the Chicagoland area.
Follow these links to find more of Sandra’s recent work on the web:
Lauren Sutherland is a recent graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN and proudly has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a writing emphasis and a Deaf Studies minor. Lauren enjoys reading and writing poetry, but her ultimate passion is for editing. She has been interning with Sundress since July and loves getting the opportunity to have a hand in the literary community.