North Texas Daily

Q&A with 2013 UNT Rilke Prize winner Paisley Rekdal

Q&A with 2013 UNT Rilke Prize winner Paisley Rekdal

March 22
00:26 2013

Courtney Garza

Staff Writer

English professor at the University of Utah, Paisley Rekdal, won the 2013 UNT Rilke Prize for her poetry book, “Animal Eye,” published by the University of Pittsburg Press. The $10,000 prize named for the great German poet, Rainier Maria Rilke, was established two years ago to recognize books written by mid-career poets.

The North Texas Daily spoke with Rekdal, who worked on the book, and UNT creative writing assistant Lisa Vining.

With Rekdal:

What was your inspiration for your book and where did you get the initial idea for it?

“I got the idea from living for the past 13 years in the West, seeing the many and complex interactions between the human and natural worlds that take place here.”

What were some challenges, if any, you had while writing and publishing it?

“The largest challenge was figuring out which poems to keep, which to cut. My publisher rejected it the first time I sent it to them, saying they thought it wasn’t quite right. My editor, Ed Ochester, was correct.”

How successful would you say the book ended up being?

“It depends on what you mean by “successful.” Am I completely happy with it? No. Are others happy with it? Maybe. But I’m never happy with my work. If I’m completely satisfied or happy, I won’t progress as a writer.”

Why do you enjoy writing and how long have you been a writer?

“I’ve always loved reading and language, for as long as I can remember. But I remember taking the idea of being a writer seriously first when I was 16, when I decided that to write I should do it as much and as often as possible. Today, I try to write about an hour to two hours on average a day”.

What do you plan to do with the money that you won from UNT?

“The money has already been spent: my roof had huge leaks in it and needed to be torn down and replaced. The cost of the roof, sadly, was twice the amount of the award, so the money REALLY will come in handy to help pay for these expenses”.

With Vining:

What’s your part in the contest?

“I help coordinate the event and the visiting writing series. I collect and go through the applicants and organize the data for the judges to view.”

How many applicants do you receive?

“Since it was our first year running the contest last year, we didn’t have too many. But I’m happy to say that our numbers have doubled in this year’s entries.”

What do you find to be an interesting aspect of this contest?

“It’s a huge prize for a mid-career poet and it’s exciting to see work come in and the authors be rewarded in such a big way. I also think it’s pretty amazing that the prize comes from UNT and it’s pulling applicants nationwide.”

Rekdal will read at the University of North Texas on April 9 and at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture on April 10. Rekdal will also judge the Voertman Prize , which will be awarded to a current creative writing graduate student.

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