The Next Big Thing Interview: Caki Wilkinson

March 13, 2013

By now, most of us have come across an interview or two from the ongoing series called “The Next Big Thing.” Over the last few weeks, I’ve been tagged by two poets I admire very much, Dan O’Brien and Malachi Black, both of whom are 32 Poems contributors with forthcoming poetry collections. I hope you’ll check out their interviews—and more importantly, their poems, some of which can be found here and here. Below, I’ve done my best to answer the questions, and I’ve tagged poets Carrie Jerrell, Laura Eve Engel, and Gibson Fay-LeBlanc for next week.


1. What is the working title of the book?

Welcome to Wynona. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up changing it though.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had just wrapped up my first collection, Circles Where the Head Should Be, and I was at a loss as to what to do next. I wrote a poem that featured a woman who would later become known as Wynona Stone. I liked her, so I wrote another and then another. By then I was starting to understand her better, and little by little a world grew up around her. I kept thinking, okay, that was fun, time to move on, but I couldn’t stay away from Wynona for long.

3. What genre does your book fall under?


4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a tough one. There are quite a few characters, including Wynona, the local weatherman (with whom Wynona is romantically involved), various members of Wynona’s family (the Stones), and a handful of secondary characters. For Wynona I imagine someone like Greta Gerwig, but a bit older and more of a spaz. For the weatherman, I’m thinking John C. Reilly. That said, the cast might be better served by the puppets from Crank Yankers. 

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

“Wynona is having trouble broaching.” This is also a refrain in three of the poems.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I started it in 2009 and I’m still fiddling with it, though I’m working on some new stuff as well. So: four years and counting.

7. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was reading a lot of fiction when I started this project. Prior to this, I’d been in school and on a pretty strict diet of poetry. Suddenly I just went crazy reading fiction, mostly contemporary stuff—Aimee Bender, Padgett Powell, Jennifer Egan—but also Flannery O’Connor and Sherwood Anderson.

8. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Poems that feature basketball games, bikini waxes, the tri-state’s largest ball of twine, soap operas, and a dead woman named Nancy.

9. My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Carrie Jerrell, Laura Eve Engel, and Gibson Fay-LeBlanc.

Caki Wilkinson is the author of the poetry collection Circles Where the Head Should Be (UNT, 2011), which won the 2010 Vassar Miller Prize.

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