Stacy Skolnik Tells Us the Only Reason to Get a MFA
Did you have fun tonight? I hope you had fun tonight.
Are you Russian? A lot of Russians look like that.
What is your name? Steshy? Steshy? Ehhh…nice name. Nice name.
You live here or there? Just visiting?
Where are you from? Where are your parents from? Born in New York?
Did you have a good time tonight? Now is a very important time to enjoy life.
You must enjoy life.
I’m giving it my best shot.
He fondles my 20 and inspects it, as if it’s a forgery.
Do you want my card? Here take my card, if ever you need help, my card, my card.
HAVE YOU EVER
We were watching a movie
and there was a scene
where an old lady and her man
try to seduce a young guy.
The kid runs out of the room
I turned to my boyfriend.
“Have you ever
He smiled his smug smile.
“Well, a couple of years ago,
right around this time of year,
I blushed and
bit my tongue.
“What, are you getting
not jealous exactly.
Not of the deed, anyway.
Maybe just of the telling.
I’ve had a few older men, myself.
There was that guy from the bar,
that other guy from the bar.
And remember The Italian?
I’ve fucked my share,
you should know,
and the stories are all good.
Tender at times, comedic, crude,
filled with characters.
I want to tell him
all about my sordid little secrets,
I want him to really know me.
He’s too smart to ask.
Who rose up in me
like a pale sun.
Like a nauseous flower
that I clipped and saved the petals of
in some sour box.
Who I never knew
but knew to be small as the size
of a poppy seed.
Eddie, who came to me in a dream,
once I had killed him confidently.
Who I would have kept,
tiny and tucked away
inside of my bellied body
forever if I could. But things grow,
so I slew him without question.
I squashed him, sucked him
out of myself like a dust bunny, like a bug,
quicker than he came.
To my surprise
he has only grown bigger
and bigger, tall as any man
with a face.
Q & A with Stacy Skolnik and editor Joanna C. Valente
JV: Talk to me about your line breaks. How do you determine them?
SS: There might be a dual meaning to a larger “sentence” and a line break can help to delineate the meanings, or there is a natural pause for breath that I want to make room for.
What would you say is your obsession right now? As poets & artists, we are sometimes defined by these obsessions in our work.
I’ve always been, and continue to be, obsessed with simplicity, and with touching on subjects that are somehow, at once, both base and grand.
You studied creative writing in school as an undergrad. Would you recommend this experience to others?
I went to school for poetry because I really didn’t have an interest in going for much else. I’m currently halfway through my first semester in the Poetry MFA program at Brooklyn College, and I went back for the fun of it. I would recommend going to school for writing if you want to write, obviously, and if you want to try to find out who you are as a writer. You should also realize that it probably won’t help you get a job related to writing. Go for kicks, if that’s how you think you’re gonna get your kicks.
Who writes your poems—what part of you?
It’s mostly just me, and a little bit of my alter ego.
I’ve always felt my poems come alive after they’ve been edited—as if I’m carving a poem, rather than writing it. Would you agree or disagree with this?
I agree. When I first write a poem it’s like laying out a skeleton, and it isn’t always pretty. Editing gives the poem color and flesh, and yes, brings it to life.
Editor's Note: These poems originally appeared on our old site.
Stacy Skolnik is a poet currently living in NYC. You can find some of her work, for better or worse, scattered about the internet on various websites such as Red Fez, The Caterpillar Chronicles, The Poet in New York, and Josephine Quarterly.