The Author: A. Light Zachary
The Book: More Sure (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2023)
The Elevator Pitch: Poems and interruptions on self-realization, love, and survival; often in queer, trans, and neurodivergent lives
The Rumpus: Where did the idea of your book come from?
A. Light Zachary: It’s a collection of the best poems I wrote in my first few years of writing poetry. Some poems mirror what I’ve been doing in life: clarifying and obfuscating ideas of self-love, self-realization, and living in/around/after language, gender, and community.
Rumpus: How long did it take to write the book?
Zachary: Seven years, six months
Rumpus: Is this the first book you’ve written? If not, what made it the first to be published?
Zachary: It’s the first full-length book I completed. I previously wrote a very short novella, which was published by a Canadian micro-press called Metatron.
Rumpus: In submitting the book, how many no’s did you get before your yes?
Zachary: It was picked up by the first publisher who read a near-final draft. Years earlier, three publishers read incomplete drafts; two declined to join me in the process, and one made an offer which I did not accept.
Rumpus: Which authors / writers buoyed you along the way? How?
Zachary: Stephanie Burt, Jos Charles, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, and others
Rumpus: How did your book change over the course of working on it?
Zachary: I gave up on “speaking truth to power” when I remembered our oppressors will never read my poetry.
Rumpus: Before your first book, where has your work been published?
Zachary: My poems have appeared in various Canadian and American magazines, including this one.
Rumpus: What is the best advice someone gave you about publishing?
Rumpus: Who’s the reader you’re writing to—or tell us about your target audience and how you cultivated or found it?
Zachary: Me. Nobody else was writing my favourite book, so I had to do it myself.
Rumpus: What is one completely unexpected thing that surprised you about the process of getting your book published?
Zachary: The extent to which I would have to fight for my vision at every turn. Remember: even the greatest, most attentive publisher will have a dozen other books to worry about at the same time as yours. You won’t be special to them if you don’t make yourself special.
Author photograph by Saul Freedman Lawson