Don't let the flawless exterior of Deborah Ager's poems fool you: there is a lot going on those lines. Her attention to form, lines, sound and detail, all add up little storms of speech acts. It's as if Elizabeth Bishop and Paul Celan met at a lobster roll stand in Maine and swapped shop secrets.
Deborah co-edits 32 Poems, one of the best poetry journals in the country, with John Poch, another fine poet. Ager's first book, Midnight Voices, is a treat and a half: When she visited Frequency North, the reading series I help run at The College of Saint Rose, the crowd was wowed by the confidence and self-deprecation with which she rocked the mic.
We caught up with Deborah the other day to ask her these Tisdalean questions, drum up a little Sturm und Drang, and we're real glad we did.
Age: This is a highly guarded secret.
Birthplace: Bethesda, Maryland
You may know me because: I played you in ping pong or met you at a poetry reading. Or you are one of the many people who attended my high school.
My house is: seething and ready for social security.
The first thing I do every morning is: eat.
My cell phone brand is: 19th century. I still have a flip phone. My four-year-old child has asked
me to get an iPhone. She even knows which model she wants.
I exercise: when I can. Yesterday, I hiked for two hours at Little Bennett Park in Maryland.
Lately I've been surprised by: the law.
Book I'm reading: I’m between books. I just finished Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
I was so excited when this came out on DVD: It used to be Six Feet Under. The Sopranos before that. Then, I became interested in The Wire. I’d never had HBO, so a good show set in Maryland--based
loosely, it seems, on Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh--was addictive.
The cereals in my cupboard are: Cheerios. I rarely eat them. My favorite is oatmeal with cinnamon and stevia.
Heaven on earth is: spending time on a beach with old friends or drinking wine on a porch with rowdy singing writers.
For dinner, I like to make: Vietnamese summer egg rolls. Roll the following into a rice egg roll wrapper: Fresh basil, chicken or tofu and carrots sliced into matchsticks. Dip into a sesame oil-vinegar sauce, and you’ll be amazed. If you’d like, you can rent my husband to make you the sauce of a lifetime.
I'll eat sushi, but not: pho.
My coolest article of clothing: is deceased.
My most prized possession: A desk that belonged to my great grandfather.
My TV screen is: reflecting sunlight.
When friends come over, we: keep the kids from killing each other.
My favorite TV channel is: I watch DVDs of HBO shows, so I guess I could say HBO.
My first financial splurge was: an Apple Mac Classic 2.
Wackiest fan encounter: The wackiest fan I ever encountered was in my grandmother’s basement in Baltimore. You could easily chop a finger off. They weren’t long on safety features in 1955.
TV show I never miss: I miss them all.
Before I die, I want to: live in Costa Rica.
The best perk of being a celebrity is: no one recognizes me. It’s great.
Celebrity whom I'd ask for an autograph: I’d ask for their autograph if they made me dinner first.
Dream car: A 1960 Mercedes 300D or a 1965 Cadillac.
When I fly I have to have: a writing book, water, a peppermint Luna Bar, and a book to read.
People would be surprised that I: do not practice yoga.
Favorite cartoon: Popeye.
My iPod playlist: If I had an iPod, it would have Wilco, Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Neko Case, Sonic Youth, and Roofwalkers.
I can't start my day without: some kind of food.
If I had to spend $10 at my favorite fast food joint, I'd order: pancakes with fresh blueberries just to see what they’d say.