Pigeon Pages Interview with Marisa Siegel

Marisa Siegel (1).jpg

Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

My son’s first word was penguin—one of his BFFs was a stuffed penguin named Mr. P who went everywhere with us. It came out as a one-syllable sound like “gwin” but he was only seven months old and so I was pretty damn impressed. I should’ve recognized it as an early harbinger of the nonstop conversation we’d be having all day, every day soon after—now, at four, he never stops talking, even when asleep!

 To commemorate his first word and early love for penguins, I got a tattoo of a mama penguin and baby penguin.

What is your most memorable reading experience?

I lived at the library as a child—it was just up the street and I was allowed to walk there and back alone from a young age. I’d come home carrying wobbly piles of books that towered over my head, and a few days later, return and do it again. Around age 8 or 9, I was wandering the stacks and somehow noticed a worn copy of e e cummings’s 1950 collection Xaipe high up on a shelf. I dragged over a stool, climbed up, and pulled the book down. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that moment changed me forever; from that moment on, for better or worse, poetry mattered most. I still remember what the cover felt like in my hands, and the scratchiness of the library’s thinly carpeted floor on my legs as I sat, reading and re-reading each poem.

What makes you most excited about The Rumpus?

Hands down what makes me most excited is making space for beautiful, urgent writing that might not have found a home elsewhere. The Rumpus aims to change the literary landscape through the work it publishes—what is more exciting than that?!

To tweet or not to tweet?

Oh but that it were a choice! Twitter is a necessary evil made bearable by funny gifs and photos of cats.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden, The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan, something bright, then holes by Maggie Nelson, Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace, Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I can tell you, from an editor’s perspective, my least favorite rejection story: getting a several-paragraphs-long explanation from a writer as to why we made the wrong call rejecting his work, why he never wanted it to be published with us anyhow, and why we’d come to regret our decision.

What literary journals do you love?

I have much love and admiration for Guernica, Tin House, and Catapult. Also: Split Lip, Hyphen, No Tokens, Ep;phany, Paper Darts, these are just a few of the scrappy and smart journals publishing important work right now.

What shakes your tail feathers?

Honesty, transparency, cherry pie, rare book rooms, live music, loose leaf tea, kindness, cats, and my kiddo.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

I’m a fledgling writer, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Find your writing community—not any writing community, but one that makes you feel supported and challenged. Read widely, both within the genres you’re working in and outside of them. Get words down on the page as often as possible, even—especially—when it feels impossible to do so.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

Between keeping The Rumpus running and running after my four-year-old, I’m just trying to keep my basket from tipping over! (I do have a book manuscript I’d love to return to, just as soon as I figure out how to add more hours into a day.)  


MARISA SIEGEL lives, writes, and edits near NYC. She is Editor-in-Chief and owner of TheRumpus.net. Follow her on Twitter @marisasaystweet.