Author Spotlight: Vincent Antonio Rendoni
December 2022 | Catamaran Literary Reader | $20 |
LLB2: Can you describe the environment(s) where you wrote your book? This could be the room, the desk, the city, an MFA program, a fellowship, or any other environmental factor (you only wrote when it rained, you always wrote with fresh flowers in the room, etc.). What was your writing process? Your editing process? Did you adopt a unique process for this book, or do you have a “go-to” approach for all your writing?
Vincent Antonio Rendoni (VAR): A Grito Contest in the Afterlife was a COVID book for sure. It was written and completed in lockdown in my home office, on my work computer, piece by piece, lunch break by lunch break — all with a painting of my late father staring at me. If constant awareness of your own mortality doesn’t motivate you, not sure what will. LLB2: How did your relationship with your family influence your writing?
VAR: There’s not many writers in my family, but damn if we’re not all storytellers. My youth was filled with tall tales, folklore, and anecdotes told by flimflammers, used car salesmen, and loved ones who’ve seen some things. Not sure it’s all factual. Not sure it’s all lies either. The best story gets remembered, not the technically correct one, right? LLB2: What role does the poet play in the 21st century?
VAR: Poetry, like joy, is a subversive act. It’s our job to show that, maybe, not everything needs to be hustled, optimized, and sold for a profit. A poet shows it’s good to do things just because, to get ourselves — and hopefully others — thinking and remembering. Because when everything else winds down, poetry will be what’s left. LLB2: What type of poet do you classify yourself as?
VAR: Whatever you call a poet who doesn’t write for other poets. Civilians read too. I want them at the party.
LLB2: You can often tell a lot about a book by how it begins and how it ends. What is the first line and last line of your book?
First line: “Origin Story,” My grandfather went by many names.
Last line: “Sexually Explicit Skywriting,” There’s still time.
LLB2: Do you have any advice for new and emerging writers? Is there anything you wish you knew?
VAR: Have fun. The wins and publications will come later.
LLB2: What are you currently reading?
VAR: Currently in need of a little break from poetry. Almost finished with Kelly Lytle Hernández’s Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands. Always hungry to learn more about the event that brought my family from Mexico to Texas. But this incredible, often-ignored history about the magonistas, the radical migrant rebels that helped bring down Porfirio Díaz, is something else entirely. I thought I knew the Mexican Revolution. I did not.
Vincent Antonio Rendoni is the author of A Grito Contest in the Afterlife, which was the winner of the 2022 Catamaran Poetry Prize for West Coast Poets as selected by Dorianne Laux. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions multiple times and has appeared/will appear in Prairie Schooner, The Sycamore Review, The Vestal Review, The Texas Review, Heavy Feather Review, and So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.