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Smoke & Mirrors with Lindsey Pharr

Interview by Karen Craigo (Read the Story) September 18, 2023

Lindsey Pharr

Lindsey Pharr

You achieved a self-portrait that is weird and awkward with the two wineglasses—such a telling detail! It’s refreshing to know someone who can let go of the constant state of cool. How do you feel about keeping your own company?

Well, Karen, Lindsey crumpled under the pressure to be hilarious and brilliant in this interview, so she handed it over to me, the blue jay whose feathers she found that inspired the piece. And I have to say, it’s lonely being a muse. We’re very social birds, us blue jays, but we get a bad rap. I myself often get told I’m “a bit too much,” even by other jays, but we can’t all inspire essays, can we? Pardon me while I preen a bit.

There’s a lot of color in this small piece. It’s like a moment from your life is cast in stained glass. Why was color essential to the essay?

Color is extremely important to us birds! All those colors that Lindsey pointed out in her essay are only a sliver of the colors that birds can see. We can even see ultraviolet light! I’d love to read the poetry and essays humans would write if their range of vision were expanded. I flew into a stained-glass window once, though, and I honestly don’t understand why you’d ever want to cast a moment of your life in one.

The straightforward sex of the essay is met by the appreciation for the sexual poetry of the final reader. Death is also “bold as brass.” Is there a message here about what good writing should do?

What should it do? To be clear, and I don’t think Lindsey emphasized this enough, the “bold as brass” bit was about me. Well, about corvids in general. But let’s not lose focus on the star of the show here, OK? And if you ask me, good writing should have more birds in it. Well maybe not more ravens, that old poem really went to their heads and if they weren’t so bloody big, I’d like to take them down a peg.

You live in the woods, I see. Do the woods inform your essays and other writing?

Lindsey lives in the woods, and I suppose that works fine for her, as she’s a bit of a loner. I myself live behind a bookstore, which I think is quite strategically brilliant as I embark on my new career as a literary icon.

Current nonfiction needs more ______.

What, and why? Like I said, we need more bird stories. But not just the stories of the ravens, hawks, larks, etc. We need to bring focus to the birds whose stories haven’t been cawed from the rooftops. Now, I’m a huge fan of cawing, but there are so many complex and gorgeous birdsongs in the world! The movement in current nonfiction is there, but we’ve got a long way to go in amplifying stories from the birds whose voices have been silenced in the past.

About the Author

Lindsey Pharr (she/her) lives outside of Asheville, NC. Her work has appeared in X-R-A-Y, Ghost Parachute, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lindsey_a_pharr.

About the Interviewer

Karen Craigo is a reporter for the Springfield Business Journal in Missouri, where she was the state’s fifth poet laureate.

This interview appeared in Issue Eighty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighty-One

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