Fall 2015 Redesign: An Interview with Poet, Jeff Alessandrelli


On July 15th, the BACKWORDS Press team gets the extreme pleasure of re-releasing the work of our Fall 2015 poets, Jeff Alessandrelli, Wes Solether, and W. Vandoren Wheeler—this time in collaboration with graphic designer, Maria Regine Cabbab.

In keeping with the continual expansion of our own artistic vision for the press, working with Maria on our Fall 2015 Issue seemed the perfect partnership for us at Backwords. We’re delighted to share redesigns with you all; it’s our hope that they’ll compliment and carry these incredible poems out into the world with a presence more reflective of their own unique style and skill.

A little about Maria—who we are equally pleased to acquaint you with. Maria is a Hawaii transplant now living in Portland, OR. Drawing is her first love, but, according to her bio, she’s “in a long-term relationship with design.” Maria considers herself a thinker first and then a doer. “Basically I take my time to think things through,” she says, “but once I'm committed I'm all in. I love (to create) beautiful things with purpose.” Our team was deeply impressed with her professionalism, poise, and inventive sense of play. You can hit her up on Instagram at @mvregine, or visit her website to collaborate or commission some work with her.

Like we did with our Spring 2016 Issue writers earlier this year, today we bring you a short interview in honor of the Fall 2015 redesign—with poet, Jeff Alessandrelli. You can refresh your memory of Jeff’s bio on our Author Page. And don’t forget to visit our Shop on July 15th to get a tote or tee featuring the new design!

Read the interview for a preview of the redesign below:

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BACKWORDS Press: How do you begin a poem?

Jeff Alessandrelli: If you’re curious about the longish version I actually wrote about that process over on The Kenyon Review blog. But mostly I type up a first draft of a poem sitting at my desk and then all subsequent ideas are derived while walking my dog, Beckett Long Snout.

BACKWORDS Press: How long have you been writing?

JA: I’ve been writing seriously since late 2005…really 2006. So 10 years, give or take. But I’ve been reading and thinking about writing since 4th grade, in Mrs. Tetzlaff’s class. Both her and my mother instilled a great love of reading in me at a young age, something for which I’ll be ever thankful.

BACKWORDS Press: Which poets do you continually go back to?

JA: Sarah Manguso, Samuel Beckett, David Markson, Suzanne Buffam, Chelsey Minnis, The Book of Lieh-tz’u, Biggie, Billie Holiday, Bill Knott.

BACKWORDS Press: Why Backwords Press? What made you want to submit?

JA: My friend Kevin Sampsell, who was published as one of your first Backwords authors, actually told me about it. I thought the idea was both amazing and subtly innovative, and I was excited to submit. Lyric poems are also my fav to read and try and write, and it seems like the shortness of that poetic form translates well to the brevity of a t-shirt.

BACKWORDS Press: Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media platforms? How does this affect your writing, community?

JA: I am on Facebook, as well as Tumblr, and my poetry-only vinyl record press is on Twitter. That all being said I don’t really have anything to say about social media that, pro or con, hasn’t been stated before. I guess the only thing I’d mention is that, regardless of the social media platform, I try and make up a point of only going on 2 or 3 times a week, for my own mental sanity’s sake.

BACKWORDS Press: Anything else you like our readers to know about you or your work?

JA: I’m currently writing this from Bruges in Belgium in Europe and I’d thusly like to recommend Martin McDonagh’s film In Bruges. It’s a righteous cinematic experience. For a vasty amount of reasons I’d also recommend visiting this town. Finally, I’ll also plug Eileen Myles’ new record Aloha/irish trees from my poetry-record label Fonograf Editions and Drew Scott Swenhaugen’s chapbook Big from my chapbook press Dikembe. Both are very different from one another and 100% all the way around.

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Alessandrelli’s poem, “Poem for Bjork,” is one of three original poems featured by working writers in the Fall 2015 Issue. The entire Issue is currently available on our website in the Shop; however, the re-designed poem (in collaboration with Maria Regine Cabbab) will be released officially on July 15th, 2016.

Please enjoy this preview of the new design above, courtesy of Maria and the Backwords Press team.

Be sure and check out the upcoming interviews with the two other Fall 2015 poets, Wes Solether and W. Vandoren Wheeler, in the weeks to come. And Happy Fourth of July, for all you "Americans" out there...

Stay Backwords!

The Backwords Press Team

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