WHAT TREES DO YOU PREFER IN THE CENTRE OF BOULEVARDS?
Maple trees are such fine trees. They’re the trees of my growing up. And Oak trees. Now I live near beautiful London Plane trees with thick smooth gray trunks like a giant mammal’s leg — something the cousin of an elephant or a rhino. This is what I prefer.
WHAT TYPE OF READING DO YOU DO ON TRAINS (OR AEROPLANES)?
Paperback nonfiction, sometimes my GQ magazine, poem drafts from students, subway advertisements, search results on my phone about how to be better.
WHAT BUTTERFLIES DO YOU THINK GIVE THE MOST SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCES?
Unexpected butterflies, to be sure. Lightning bugs, if they were butterflies.
WHAT MOVIE DO YOU WATCH IN SECRET?
Pornography? What movie do you watch in secret?
WHAT LITERARY WORKS DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST UNDER-RATED?
Oh the impossible questions. These days, most all literary works are under-rated. Perhaps banning a book is a way to under-rate it, but isn’t it also a sinister tip of the cap? An acknowledgement that the work could do truth-telling.
WHAT COLOURS DO MOST FOR YOU AFTER SIX P.M.?
I like it when the sun is still in the sky after six p.m. The longer before setting, the better. Dusk makes me blue. The colors of a good sunset do a lot for me. In Montana, aching hours of forest-fire sunset colored electric cantaloupe, strawberry concentrate, every undiscovered orchid, the throat and wing of a hummingbird.
WHAT ANIMALS DO YOU PREFER TO HUMAN BEINGS?
WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR STATE OF MIND (MOOD) WHEN READING FICTION AND YOUR MIND WHEN READING HISTORY?
When I start out reading fiction, I worry about whether or not I will like the narrative— which I think means whether or not I will feel invested and moved by it, but also hoping it will feel real to me. When reading history, I don’t have this worry because I know the narrative to have actually happened. This may be a flaw in my character or in my brain.
CAN YOU HEAR ANYTHING IN A SEASHELL OTHER THAN THE ROAR OF THE OCEAN?
The sound of someone breathing with their open mouth on a cold winter window to fog it up.
WOULD WINGS BE AN IMPROVEMENT FOR THE HUMAN BODY?
Would these be bird wings or mammal wings? Would we still have arms? I don’t want feathers and I want to be able to hug. If the wings brought with them the knowledge and skill required to fly without fear, then perhaps a bat wing. I like the fly-squirrel design, though that might not count as wings.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO MOST FREQUENTLY?
Road trip playlists, WQXR classical at 105.9 fm in New York, whatever house-y remixes accompany my little fitness videos, the soothing meditation-y tracks that loop on my calming app.
WHAT TWO HISTORICAL CHARACTERS WOULD YOU LIKE TO BRING TOGETHER?
Audre Lorde and Pat Parker; they were friends and they were missing one another at the end of their lives.
WHAT ARTICLE OF CLOTHING DO YOU WISH TO BRING BACK FROM HISTORICAL OBSCURITY?
Very short basketball shorts on male athletes.
WHAT BUILDING DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST BEAUTIFUL IN THE WORLD?
I don’t quite have an answer, but I do love Quaker meeting houses.
WHAT SIZE CITY DO YOU THINK THE MOST DESIRABLE?
The size in which housing, food, childcare, healthcare, safe outdoor spaces, freedom of movement and expression, can be provided for all the people.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ESSENCE OF FEMININITY?
Trick question— essentialism ain’t the thang.
WHAT WORK FROM A PREVIOUS CENTURY WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE WRITTEN?
I’d like to have written Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
WHAT FORM OF AFTER LIFE — IF ANY — DO YOU ANTICIPATE?
A letting go, I think a relief, I hope. I like the idea of being a part of the plant world, soil world someday.
WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE USED AS A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION IN OUR DOWNTOWN STREETS?
Sled dog-in-training; slap some wheels on the sleds and we’re off!
WHAT ARE THE MOST OVER-RATED LUXURIES?
Golf courses. Ew. And also bad.
WHAT DOES WILLIAM BLAKE HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?
An oracular vibe. Go Tygers!
WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE ADDED TO THIS INTERVIEW?
I’d like to hear about respondent’s ideal pies. I’m thinking fruit pies, but cream pies, tarts, quiche, savory pies, and pizza pies are among the enticing subjects we might cover.
Alicia Mountain tries very hard to understand feelings and sensation and to live without shame. Alicia Mountain is one of three sisters. Alicia Mountain wants bright eyes / like wet stones for you, and deceit only that / the stones are slick small frogs in disguise / for you, admitting truth in that they rustle and / breathe. Alicia Mountain wrote the book Four in Hand (BOA Editions) and she also wrote the book High Ground Coward (Iowa). Alicia Mountain lives and teaches in New York while missing the mountains.