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Verses that Transcend: An Interview with Anne Harding Woodworth, author of Gender

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Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of eight books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her book Trouble received the 2022 William Meredith Award for Poetry. Gender was a Literary Titan Silver. An excerpt from her chapbook, The Last Gun, won the COG Poetry Award and as a result was animated: Anne is a member of the Board of Governors at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. She and her husband live in Washington, D.C.

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Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I wanted a word that would straddle both novellas. Gender is a subject especially prominent today, unfortunately also overly-political. The word came easily to me as the perfect title. It fits both novellas in its own way. Martin/Martina is about a woman who dresses as a man and is accused of fathering a child. In Aftermath, a character who belongs to an asexual group gives birth to a child.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I was very pleased with the cover choices that Atmosphere provided. And I was particularly happy with the choice we made. It is always a thrill to hold one’s new book in one’s hands.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Of course, I look back to my childhood when I wrote poems for any occasion at school or within my family. However, I did not get serious about writing poetry until I lived in Athens, Greece. There, my first book of poetry, Guide to Greece and Back, was published. There was a hiatus while I worked at Chrysler Corporation for eight years and then I married a man who had more poems memorized than I will ever have at once in my head. I returned to writing, but mostly about soccer, and edited an anthology called Soccer Zones: Writings out of American Soccer. After that, I returned full-time to poetry. It was an irresistible urge.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I worked at McGraw-Hill in trade book publishing, at Oakland University as an editor, and at Chrysler Corporation in P.R. My readers might not know that I am a soccer fanatic, mother of two former professional soccer players, Greg and Alexi Lalas, and have written a World Cup poem every four years since 1994.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

This was my eighth book. Thinking back on my third book, Spare Parts, also a novella in verse, I am particularly pleased that another book of novellas in verse has seen the light of day. I am also pleased that Atmosphere saw the immediacy of my book at this time in our history.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Any lullaby, especially one sung by a man, like All My Trials, sung by Harry Belafonte (for Martin/Martina), or medieval music of any kind. And for Aftermath, The End by The Doors, and any Jim Morrison.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Enjoyment of the two stories, acceptance, and an understanding of the different ways people choose to live their lives. My perfect reader is someone who likes a good story, likes poetry, and appreciates both content and form.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am working on a manuscript called Merely Players, a title I borrowed from Shakespeare’s line, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” It encompasses poetry about performances in general, which includes theatre, film, and even sports, especially soccer. Men and women, or “players,” are what I study carefully and write poems about, whether they are living today or yesterday or are fictional in books and movies.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

It was a pleasure. My experience with Atmosphere was very positive, and I found the staff responsive. I think I would tell others that it’s important to find a publisher that understands them and grasps the message of their book.

You can buy the book here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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