Jeff Fleming, author and editor of nibble, interviewed Leah in his weekly Eight Questions column on his nibble blog:
“Eight Questions with Leah Angstman:
I first met Leah back in September of ’08 when nibble wanted to review justin.barrett’s book [untitled] (published by Leah’s Propaganda Press). We contacted Leah, who was super cool from the start: she immediately mailed us a copy to review.
Pretty soon the emails were flying (talk about publishing, who we knew in common, and what poets we read. Plus there was a hand-drawn cartoon by Leah in there somewhere, too). And then the chatting began.
After only a few weeks, I felt like I’d known Leah for years. She is an amazing force of nature, a serious power, a tireless advocate of small press poetry, a lover and promoter of all forms of art, and a true Renaissance woman.
We are thrilled to have met her and proud to call her a friend.
And now, here are Eight Questions with Leah Angstman:
What is your role in the small press?
Pretty much to take charge and kick ass. I am here to provide an outlet for artists of all different kinds to be able to promote their works for dirt cheap. I run Propaganda Press, a seriously ass-kickular little press that never fails to amaze me with the amount of flowers it springs from its garden, ready to be plucked by filthy hands and eyes. We stay away from the mainstream, away from academia; but at the same time, try to bring the small stream of fishies to the big stream of whales. How is that? Too pretentious? Well … suck it. Cuz it’s a hell of a lot of hard work, and I am as far from pretentious as they come. Wait … was that … too pretentious?I say second that I am a writer. Unfortunately, my role as writer has to come second for now. I wish it could come first, but I just don’t have time to write enough to keep up. I have a lot of demanding deadlines, about which I can’t complain, since I set them myself … but those deadlines mean that finding time for myself is a difficult task. [sniff.] [I need a beer.]
My third role is to scream loud enough to be heard. I make a big noise, draw attention to myself, stick my nose in a lot of places, plaster my URL and face and poems and boobs all over the place. That’s the only way we’re gonna get this poetry on the shelves. See? I said boobs. Twice. And you probably just reread it.
What is one thing people should know about you?
I think you should know that I used to scrape gum off the school parking lot as a child and eat it; and that one time I tried to sniff glue, resulting in a huge sneeze that blew snot into the glue bottle, thrusting the glue out in a burst all over my face and hair and clothes, while I was sitting in the back of an elementary classroom. Everyone turned and stared, and I just sat there, covered in glue, staring back. These events stand out in my mind as something you should know. I’m sure they shaped me in some way and probably say quite a bit about me.
What are you working on right now that has you excited?
Are you kidding? Nothing in the small press excites me!
Ha. My comic book, Jack. After a long hiatus away from my comic book writing world, I have decided to break back into it, since the resurgence of geek-chic all over the blockbuster screens is giving me moist panties for my comic book lust! I am writing a very detailed comic book story, with characters I love madly, characters I am eating, sleeping, breathing. Once the writing is finished, I will pen every word by hand, ink every line, and paint (yes, paint!) every single panel with acrylics. This may take years, but the end result will be my comic baby.
Name one thing you wish you had.
I suppose it’s too cliche for me to say money, even though with that, I wouldn’t have to work a day job, and I could just stay home and do my work here and become a weird, reclusive cat lady. So I’ll skip that. Mike would kill me if I said I wish I had more kittens, but that’s pretty true. I wish I had time, endless amounts of time, and the ability to control it, slow it down or speed it up as I need it. I wish I had some superpowers… just some small ones to mess with people. The ability to move small objects closer to me, like my stamps or address labels or staples or letter opener, probably because when I am sitting, I become a lazy blob and don’t want to move. The ability to hover over the sidewalk to my destination with very little effort, the ability to open doors without touching them (Acchh! Germs!), the ability to make people’s hands repeatedly slap themselves in the face. Oh, and I also wish I could sit in one place, eat whatever I want, and have a supermodel body. Can you make all this happen?
Name one thing you have that you could do without.
My day job. It’s stressful and not a very supportive environment. I’ve just been there so long that I could do it blind … so I’m too lazy to quit and go find something else and start all over at the bottom of the stack.
Who is your favorite small press poet?
Oh, uh, gee … As an editor, this doesn’t seem like a very fair question to answer. Also, the answer changes from day to day, depending on what I’m reading, and what moods I’m going through. I am an incredibly moody person and a heavy PMS’er, so I like stuff that really moves me, often to tears, followed by laughter. So since I am answering this question today … well, my favorite poet today, who achieves all of these emotions, is Rebecca Schumejda. Her new book out from sunnyoutside, Falling Forward, is just phenomenal. She rocks something fierce.
Name one small press poetry mag, other than nibble, that everyone should read?
Are there poetry mags other than nibble? Huh. Interesting.
I think maybe Chiron Review, as it never disappoints and is always so packed with amazing stuff. I find a lot of cool material between those covers, and Michael Hathaway has been plugging away at it for so many years and works so tirelessly to promote the small press, he deserves some freakin’ awards already! Buy that man a beer! Seriously, always makes my day when I get the latest issue.
And I suppose I should toot my own horn and mention Poiesis, no?
Where do you want to see your own poetry?
Freakin’ everywhere! Bathroom stalls, graffiti. I would love to see it in the hands of Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. On the shelves of City Lights and cool indie bookstores worldwide. I want to see it on a plaque somewhere, engraved in some stone, on some gravestone or something (but not just mine), and to have someone from Thailand or Russia or Moldova write me an email saying they loved my book. That’s freakin’ everything, man. Of course, just to have my mom actually read it and appreciate it would make my day, too.
Here are Leah’s poems as they appeared in nibble:
“alice on your pillow”
to a lover’s gaze
squinted amber eyes
an orange outstretched hand
in my hair
“seventy something percent of women have mismatched breasts”
perhaps some genes or
parts switched around at birth
there are no bras mismatched
dressed in discomfort
with the dilemma of the d
or the c
flapping like a jaw
too roomy on the left
chaffing against padding
or squished into the c with
right nipple perched
across fabric’s edge
bunched to the inside
appearing a cyclops breast
fighting for air
squirming to wink
“even cats slip on the ice”
walking as ginger skidding steps on slippery slopes
gliding and mirrored even in non-slip soles
into the reflection of yet other souls
grip into the ice of the frozen layers
a sudden slip and for a minute
i have blades and i catch the grace of the swan in my throat
the balance of a cat taking my centered body
to that day you didn’t jump from ledges onto all fours
instead landing on top of me with a swanless thud
my frozen hands and thighs embedded in you
our feline instincts swallowed in gravity
the ice not giving way no blink no nudge just once you say
if you go down i go down
and when we get back up we lift each other
balance driven into me like the snow
keeps these thighs now from ever going down
keeps these shoes like skates firmly dug in
for who would lift me
when you are sheathed beneath this glacial ground
the last of your nine lives handed to the ice”