Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Awesome Authors: Billy Merrell

Today's another Double Feature, as we have Awesome Author Billy Merrell stopping by for a chat. He is the author of Talking in the Dark, a poetry memoir (Scholastic, 2003), and a co-editor for The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About LGBTQ and Other Identities (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006), which received a 2006 Lambda Literary Award. He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University and is currently Web Development Coordinator for Poets.org, the award winning website of the Academy of American Poets. Visit him online at www.billymerrell.com.

Why did you start blogging, and how did you come up with the name for your blog? I started blogging in 2006 as a way to publicly participate in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). Both an informal offshoot of National Poetry Month and a blatant ripoff of National Novel Writing Month, NaPoWriMo challenges poets to compose and post a poem a day during April. I was studying poetry at Columbia at the time and writing poems most days anyway, so why not? A blog was born. Since then, I've posted many poems and the occasional link to something that inspires me. As my poems became longer, posting single excerpts made less sense, and it's been a while since I've posted actively. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll start blogging again. Since I'm out of that long poem phase.

What's your favorite thing about blogging? It's a great way to quietly put yourself out there. To "publish"—to literally make your work public, without claiming anything about the quality. The poems I post to my blog are ones I at the time deem successful in one way or another. Which is very different from me thinking they are "good" or wanting to put them in front of readers right away. Instead, I can let the readers find the poems on their own. And it maybe means more when they do.

What's the difference between a blog and a diary? Since my day job is Web Development, I find it hard not to answer technically. A blog is a publishing format, and a diary is a specific category of journaling. My blog is nothing like a diary. It's more like an ongoing chapbook.

Spencer Grace Kelly, the main character in GoldenGirl, is named after her distant relative, the Princess of Monaco. What's your favorite Grace Kelly movie, and why?
Rear Window
(1954). Hitchcock is way scarier than all the Saw movies put together.

What's the worst thing you ever did to a friend? Are you still friends with her or him?
Well, there was this one time... I was friends with this guy and I didn't know I had a crush on him. I mean, I did... but I didn't know that my crush had morphed into scary crush. And then I was introduced to this guy that he liked... and even though I didn't really like the guy I ended up dating HIM as some sort of creepy way to seem desirable to the one I really liked. But it all blew up in my face. Luckily for me, and the good people of Gainesville, Florida, I met my now husband Nico Medina (also a writer!) over the course of that pyscho cycle. I can now go back to being a good person. Are we friends? Yes, according to Facebook.

What are your most recent books? What new projects are you working on now?
In 2006, I co-edited The Full Spectrum, an anthology of writing about queer experience by young writers aged 13 to 23. Poems and stories have also appeared in a number of anthologies, most recently The Best Gay Poetry 2008. In October of 2009, you should also watch out for Go Ahead, Ask Me, a book of irreverent conversation starters I wrote with my husband. I still laugh reading some of those questions. Good times. Separate from book projects, I'm hard at work preparing for National Poetry Month, which promises to be the best yet. Carry a poem in your pocket on April 30—national Poem In Your Pocket Day.


  1. Billy (and Nico, too, for that matter!) have been on my to-be-read list for far too long--glad that he stopped by the Bash!

  2. Billy Merrell's poems never cease to amaze me. I want more...any upcoming independent book projects to come?