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Verse Unleashed: An Interview with Travis Hupp, author of Faster, Annihilators!

Travis Hupp

I’ve been writing poetry for 25 years. Growing up as a gay man in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, watching progress toward equality happen too slowly, poetry has long been a way for me to reconcile the persistent bigotry endemic to small southern towns with who I factually knew my LGBTQ+ peers and myself to be. It’s also a way for me to relate to life in general, celebrating joys, successes and all forms of love and turning failures, pain, loss and all forms of despair into vigils.

You can buy Faster, Annihilators! here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.


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

Faster, Annihilators!” is both the title of my book and of one of the poems it contains. Rock music is a huge influence on my work, so I liked the idea of naming the book after a “title track”, much like a rock band might name their album. Settling on “Faster, Annihilators!” to be that “title track” was pretty easy. I think it says a lot, and I love that the “Annihilators!” can represent different individuals or forces to different people, and even to myself, depending on the perspective you’re coming from and what entities seem to be destroying the world around you at any given time. To me, saying “Faster, Annihilators!” is a way of giving the middle finger to those forces and saying “Bring it on, if you must. I’ll be as resilient as necessary. I will survive you, and manage to thrive doing so.”

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

The graphic design team at Atmosphere sent me 19 amazing pieces of art to pick from for my cover. I loved them all but the moment I saw the one I ended up picking, it just spoke to me. It seems to represent more the more I look at it. There were 2 other pieces I loved so much that I had to have them as interior illustrations. Then when I first held my book in my hands, I just thought “OK. This feels right. This is what I’m meant to do.”

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

It was confronting bigotry and oppression, and having an outlet to give myself time and space to do that on my own terms, without being interrupted endlessly by the voices in society who were doing the oppressing, even if unknowingly. A way to not be shouted down by the same voices whose perspectives everyone has already heard. From there, it became a way of turning my experience into art, and just a habit I made a point to foster, so that I wouldn’t just be writing when I was angry about something or felt like there was something I should do my part to fight.

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

I spent about a decade working in bookstores, which doesn’t pay enough, but is immensely rewarding in a lot of other ways. I worked other types of retail, which were less rewarding and also don’t pay well enough. I did telemarketing for about a year before I couldn’t stand the guilt I felt over being good at it

I have repented to my creator for my time spent in that swindle-centric line of work. I worked printing designs on t-shirts briefly. I sold cutlery door to door. Worked food service. The commonality in all of them is that none of them paid well enough to rise above poverty level, even working overtime. And that’s a problem we as a society need to address. Something my readers wouldn’t know about me is that I have a tattoo of a burning ace of spades on my wrist inspired by Gambit from the X-Men.

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

The whole process. Curating the collection to decide what to include. The phone calls and emails with the editorial, design and publicity teams. The moments when I knew that Atmosphere Press actually understood what my work is driving at. The times they offered constructive criticism that made the book better.

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

Oh, wow, this is gonna be hard to narrow down. Nirvana’s whole catalogue, but maybe “On a Plain” especially. “Not the Doctor” and “Reckoning” by Alanis Morissette. “Soul One” by Blind Melon. “Hey, You” and “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd. “Face to the Floor” and “Take Out the Gunman” by Chevelle. “Wrong Side of Heaven” by Five Finger Death Punch. I’ll stop there, even though I really want to list a thousand more.

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

Art can help you survive and help get society to a place where the people growing up after us hopefully don’t have to survive as many injustices. Conformity is, more often than not, an evil in this world. God has a use for transgressive art and artists of all forms who defy censorship. The Bible even says, in Romans 12, “Conform not to this world.” Whether Christian or not, I urge every creative person to keep that in mind whenever they’re at work on their art. My “perfect reader” is anyone with an open heart and mind.

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

I’m finishing up the manuscript for my second poetry collection, Sin and I, and I’m hard at work on my first novel, called Strange Flesh. It’s horror/dark fantasy and part of an intended trilogy I’m calling The Omnipresence.

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

The whole team had a palpable passion for the process of creating literary works of art that made me feel really good about the whole thing. I would definitely encourage other authors to get their work out there by trusting Atmosphere Press.


You can buy Faster, Annihilators! here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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