Smoking With Glenn Shaheen

Read the Story March 15, 2008

This is a story about incompatibilities. Does the ending imply that incompatibilities can be a good thing, as in the saying “opposites attract”?

Well, certainly incompatibilities of the trifling manner at least. Sometimes people get obsessed with those sort of minor incompatibilities, though, and let that destroy a relationship that is full of love. Maybe that’s part of our nature, too, to trick ourselves into thinking something of little consequence is much more important than it actually is.

What does the second person point of view do for this story?

In flash fiction you don’t have a lot of time to make your readers invested in your characters. I thought using the second person point of view allows the reader to be located closer to the emotional center of the story, thus creating the illusion of being embroiled in the conflict with the characters. It did some work for the story that the space prevented.

You are an MFA student in poetry. Do you think poetry techniques help you write short-short fiction? Longer short fiction?

Short-short fiction for sure. In narrative poetry you have the same issues of space to contend with as you do in the short-short. I can’t write longer short fiction unless I break it up into small vignettes. That may be indicative of some kind of clinical ADD, but I’m not sure.

How long were you a language arts teacher before you moved on to pursue your MFA? Any plans to teach again?

I taught 7th grade for a year out of undergrad, and decided that was enough. I did a couple of odd jobs before going back to school, but now, years later, I can see myself teaching again. Probably older than 13 year olds. Those kids can be harsh.

Congratulations on placing in the Kathy Fish Fellowship contest! Will you share a bit about your experience in applying for the fellowship? Preparing the goal statement, selecting the stories, the wait, etc.?

The application process for the Kathy Fish Fellowship was a dream. It had a great notification time, and also it was free which was a real bonus. Preparing the goal statement wasn’t too hard, because I was working on a project and it’s always kind of fun to put that kind of thing into words. Additionally, the biggest plus was being able to submit it all online, rather than having to organize a bunch of printed forms and probably forget something in an envelope. It was terrific!

About the Author:

Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collections Predatory (U of Pitt Press, 2011), and Energy Corridor (U of Pitt Press, 2016), and the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). Individual pieces have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and elsewhere.