Pigeon Pages Interview
with Diannely Antigua
Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?
Coincidentally I’m really fond of pigeons, and they often appear in my work. I remember as a kid feeding the pigeons in my neighborhood rice. My mother would be cooking, and I’d sneak outside with a metal cup brimming with the grains. I loved listening to the sound of the pigeons’ wings as they’d rush to the pavement, my little hands throwing the rice like confetti into the air.
What is your most memorable reading experience?
My mother was a children’s librarian, so there was never a shortage of books in our house, but my favorite as a child was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I always checked out the book with the accompanying cassette tape, following along with my finger as the narrator read each page. One night after an embarrassing fall at the local Skateland, I came home bruised and crying. And the only thing that could console me was listening to the book on repeat, imagining a world where food fell from the sky.
What makes you most excited about Ugly Music?
I’m excited to see where my little book will travel. Just about every day since the release I’ve received photos and generous words from readers. My biggest fear was that my unabashedly personal poetry would alienate my audience, but it has done the complete opposite. My book has connected me with such amazing souls.
To tweet or not to tweet?
I tweet endlessly about junk food, sadness, and everything in between. It’s a lifestyle.
What books do you have in your bag right now?
I’ve been carrying around Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights. I’ve read it in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, during slow shifts working at the restaurant, and in bed while eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. This book stops time like a devotional does. In the darkest of moments, it makes me believe in joy again.
Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?
All of my poems are rejection stories.
What literary journals do you love?
What shakes your tail feathers?
Selena. I can’t listen to “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” without shaking my culito.
What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
Stay true to your voice, lovelies. The right readers will find you.
What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?
Although I’m still writing poems, I’m beginning a memoir project based on my religious upbringing in a strict Pentecostal church. More than anything, religion has shaped my life, whether moving towards or away, praising or rejecting it. The memoir will be an extensive undertaking. I’ll need to revisit old journals, interview family members, and consult other religious-based texts.
Though not literary related, I’m hoping to handle more eggs soon, real eggs. I want to learn more about the culinary arts, baking especially.
Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize. A graduate of the MFA program at NYU, she was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. She is the recipient of additional fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program. Her poems can be found in Washington Square Review, Bennington Review, The Adroit Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. Her heart is in Brooklyn.