Checking In: phafours poet: Allison Armstrong

Allison Armstrong appeared in Air Out/Air In (phafours, 2011). She ran the Voices of Venus series. More recently her poems appeared in Long Con magazine, L’Éphémère Review and Yes Poetry.

PP: What have you read lately that lit you up? Why or how? 

AA: TBH, what’s been lighting me up lately is novels. The Locked Tomb series (Tamsyn Muir) and The Scapegracers (H. August Clarke – Part 2 due out this Summer, iirc). One is gothic science fantasy and one is New England misfit teen drama, but the world building in both is wonderful and the writing itself is so alive. Looking forward to the next instalments in both cases.

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?

AA: These days, my focus is on my people. Two partners, plus a close friend with some sudden health problems.

PP: What is underway or forthcoming? 

AA: I have five glosas forthcoming in Bonemilk Volume 2 (Gutslut Press). This is one of the rare times when all of the pieces in a multi-piece submission have been accepted, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m slowly chipping away at my Femme Glosa Project, polishing and sorting out layout. I’ve got a chapbook on sub, and the beginnings of a microchap in the works.

PP: That all sounds exciting. What’s the Femme Glosa Project?

AA: So, a Glosa is a type of formal poetry that takes 4 sequential lines from a pre-existing poem by a different poet and builds a 40-line, 4-stanza poem around them, using each line in sequence (backwards or forwards) as a line in one of the stanzas. Traditionally, that line is the 10th of each stanza, but other placements are fine too, as long as the lines appear at the same point in each stanza.The idea is to have your glosa be a response to, or exist in conversation with, the original poem that you pulled those four lines from.

I find glosas to be particularly reflective of the ways queer femmes riff on, respond to, promote, and encourage each other so, in the case of my Femme Glosa Project, each of the poems I’ve glossed (60-ish) has been written by another queer femme. Some are poets I know personally, many are poets whose work has shaped my own, some are new-to-me poets whose work I chose just because I happen to like that particular poem when I found it in a magazine or an anthology.

In a number of cases I’ve actively chosen to gloss a glosa that a particular femme poet has written on the work of yet another femme poet, specifically to draw attention to the idea of “femme lineage” and how its reflected in our poetry.

Here’s an example of a glosa:

PP: Cool. What other work do you have out where we can read it?

AA: My most-recent publications are in erotica anthologies (The Big Book of Orgasms: Volume 2 and Scandalous).

PP: Any author site or social media urls you’d like to drop? 

AA: Follow me on twitter @amazon_syren

PP: Thanks for your time. Look forward to what’s next.

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