Saturday, February 5, 2011

Interview with Neil de la Flor

Neil de la Flor and a pocketful of
Almost Dorothy dolls, ruby slippers
and all.

Neil de la Flor is in in town for AWP, so I had opportunity to harass him in person, catch up, giggle, complain, and pinch him.

Then I went home and e-mailed him some interview questions, which he kindly returned, so our virtual interview is below.

Official, snazzy bio stuff, lifted from his website: Neil de la Flor's first book, Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010) won the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize. Neil co-authored, with Maureen Seaton, the forthcoming book Sinead O’Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds (Firewheel Editions), winner of the 2010 Sentence Book Award. He also co-authored, with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass, Facial Geometry (NeoPepper Press), a poetry chapbook of triads.

His literary work, solo and collaborative, has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Barrow Street, Hobart Pulp, 42opus, Sentence, Pank, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Court Green and other journals. Neil lives in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College, Nova Southeastern University, and Barry University, and works as a freelance journalist for the Knight Arts and ArtBurst Miami.

Cynthia: When is your next book coming out?

Neil de la Flor: My next book is a collaboration with Maureen Seaton called Sinead O'Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds. Yes, her coat is made out of a thousand bluebirds. At least the blue coat of our joint-imaginations. The book comes out soon, March or April 2011.

C: How can I get an Almost Dorothy doll? And the book?

N: The new Almost Dorothy Voodoo Doll is in the test phase. We're trying to create a doll that can take a poking and keep on ticking. You'll be able to order it from soon. The book is available at SPD books or

C: What's with the ham obsession?

N: I have no idea what you're talking about. If you're talking about my frequent references to ham, it's because ham is scarring. It's pink. That is gross. Pink ham? It seems so alive. Anyway, I think the word ham is so ugly-beautiful-bombshell cool.

C: Why are all my questions this length,
and what is the weirdest thing about your writing process?

N: Size doesn't matter. The weirdest thing, which is probably very common, is that I think of things when I'm driving. When I arrive at my destination, it evaporates. I've been noting stuff down now at stop lights and it's helped.

C: How old is Nico [his Pomeranian] and does he juggle?

N: Nico is 10, but he is hotter than hell. He juggles but only when he is naked.

C: What did you want to do when you grew up and how does that translate into being a writer? For example, I wanted to be a baton twirler as I liked the flash and circumstance, but I had trouble practicing, so that baton keeps bruising parade attendees when it flies out of control [like that question].

N: I wanted to be a businessman/woman and own my own business. I think I wanted to be this because my family has their own business and I grew up around them working all the time and it seemed like the thing I should do and wanted to do. That evolved into me wanting to be a fashion designer, so I started a fashion business. But, in the end, that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to write and I wanted to make films and be a photographer. I went back to writing and I'm making my way back to film.

C: Describe what happened during a really great class you were teaching.

N: Wow, every class I teach moves me in some way, usually in a good way, even when I'm cursing them left and write. I often give my students a simple assignment: write about someone who changed your life. In this one particular class, I had the students share their stories, most did, but not everyone. I left the lights off except for one overhead light. The students read. The stories were sad, happy, funny, gripping--what you would expect from a class of 30 students who lead very different lives. Anyway, we come to the end, and a student reads his story. It was the muscle boy, the butch boy, the bad ass. He read a story about his mom. His dad. About her struggle with cancer. Yes, the big C, cliche. This boy starts to break down, cry, and the bad ass disappeared. Everyone cried. We became human again.

C: What should I read next?

N: Good question. I'm reading V for Vendetta. If you read it before me, let me know what it's all about, so that I won't have to read it. Save me a little time!

C: Would you send me a palm tree if I asked?

N: Only if you send me a snow cone.

C: [you make it up]

N: Do you care to restate your position on diving into sugarlips (aka love)?

N: What? That's none of your business. What I do with my love life is up to me and the people involved. I'm not a magician, but I want to be one, one with a hat and a bunny, one who has the power to make it all come true.
Almost Dorothy looking up the skirt of the pink pizza gal. 
In the midst of photographing Almost Dorothy's exploits, 
we were approached by a DC graffiti artist who showed us
pictures of his work, more evidence that art connects.   

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