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Fall 2016 Issue: An Interview with Poet, Bianca Flores

This October, on the 1st of the month, the BACKWORDS Press team has the distinct pleasure of sharing the work of our Fall 2016 poets: Bianca Flores, Stephanie Adams-Santos, and Janice Worthen. We're collaborating with a new graphic designer for the issue—we'll introduce you to him later on—because right now we'd like to acquaint you with our new writers.

Like we've done with past issues, our Fall 2016 Issue writers have helped us to gear up for the October release with a series of brief interviews—which will be posted over the next three weeks. Today, you'll be meeting poet, Bianca Flores.

Here's her bio: Bianca Flores grew up tan and barefoot in Hawai‘i where she worked as the Managing Editor of Hawai‘i Pacific Review. Her most recent publications include Sigma Tau Delta’s The Rectangle and Crab Creek Review as a semi-finalist for the 2015 Poetry Prize. She currently lives in Portland, OR where she reads poetry for Tin House and does publicity and editorial work at Future Tense Books.

Read the interview below:


BACKWORDS Press: How do you begin a poem?

Bianca Flores: There’s no fixed start for each poem since inspiration (whether I’m hunting it down or it comes to me willingly) strikes differently each time. Sometimes poems arrive in the shape of a childhood story told by a coworker or boyfriend—an image from the tale normally rooting in my mind until planted on the page. Other times it comes directly from my own life experiences or observations when I’m able to see a connection between two different things that when brought together in a poem hopefully reveal some hidden insight into the human experience. It can also be purely based in language: I’ll get a phrase—sometimes even a single word—stuck in my head and I’ll write it down and build it into what I hope can be considered a poem.

BACKWORDS Press: How long have you been writing?

BF: I suppose I’ve been writing seriously since high school when I would spend hours and hours a day devoted to sweet, young attempts at writing novels. While that’s the major starting point, I was still playing around with form much before that, writing poetry lines here and there in the margins of journals without really realizing the effect it would have in the long run. Another short version I tell people is that I started writing poetry to become a better prose writer, to learn how to be more economical and striking in language, but fell in love with the form and never went back.

BACKWORDS Press: In terms of prosody or form, what really makes a poem tick for you? What makes it speak?

BF: A poem speaks when it never ceases to speak, when it’s stuck in my vertebrae in the form of damn. I want a poem to teach me something I’ve known my whole life without ever realizing it—a strand of the human condition I’ve experienced time and time again but have never been aware of until expressed by the poet. I’m a sucker for poems so stripped to the bone, so piercing and intimate, that they abandon the slow strangle and hit me with a bullet. A poem speaks when it isn’t afraid to expose me and the world, when it makes me cry on the bus and in the Blue Room at Powell’s.

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

BF: If we’re talking about poets that got me going, then I’m always and forever reaching into the many poems of Dorianne Laux. More recently, however, I have books by Ocean Vuong, Danez Smith, and Ada Limón on my desk to keep me in check. I do my best to look forward, to be in the constant search of the upcoming when it comes to writers in general, especially as someone working in publishing.

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

BF: To put it in simple terms, I f*cking love poetry and in result love what Backwords Press does. Finding effective ways to bring all literary art forms to the public is a fire-breathing need of mine, and seeing Backwords Press do it in such a creative (and fashionable!) way made me know that I had to be a part of it one way or another. (Plus I’ve met you lovely Backwords Press founders at the remarkable literary events here in Portland and love how you treat your readers, your writers, and the literary community as a whole.)

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

BF: I should probably dabble some more in social media for the sake of staying better connected, but for now I find that Facebook keeps me linked and allows me to talk and build rapport with writers and publishers from around the nation that I have yet to actually meet in person.

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

BF: I’m blessed to say that my work not only comprises my own material but the work of other writers I’m involved with because of my participation in the publishing world. When it comes to this, I’m eternally grateful for Tyler McMahon for getting me started at Hawai’i Pacific Review and for Kevin Sampsell for keeping me going at Future Tense Books with Monica Drake’s stunning collection The Folly of Loving Life and—coming soon!—stories by Meredith Alling and Gary Lutz.


Flores's poem, “For a Moment We Are All Awake,” is one of three original poems written by working writers for the Fall 2016 Issue. The full issue will be released on October 1st, 2016, everywhere, available online in the BACKWORDS Press Shop.

For the Fall 2016 Issue, we're grateful to be working with graphic designer, Costner Cude, freelancer and graduate of Idaho State University. You can connect with Costner on Twitter here.

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