|photo: Jen Rosenstein
Ali Liebegott is the recipient of a Peabody Award, two Lambda Literary Awards and a Ferro-Grumley Award. She has read and performed her work throughout the United States and Canada with the queer literary tour Sister Spit. In 2010, she took a train trip across the country to interview poets for a project called The Heart Has Many Doors. She lives in Los Angeles and writes for TV. She is the author of The Beautifully Worthless, The IHOP Papers, Cha-Ching! and The Summer of Dead Birds (Amethyst Editions/Feminist Press, March 12, 2019).
On your nightstand now:
The Poems of Anna Akhmatova. I was introduced to this book in college by my professor and poet Deborah Digges. I recently went back to it craving the stark melancholy lines of a poem entitled, "The Last Toast": "I drink to our ruined house."
Favorite book when you were a child:
I don't remember having a favorite, but I really got into the sagas of the sisters in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I love when someone has to sell their hair to save the family!
Your top five authors:
James Baldwin is an author that I go back to again and again. Not only do I love his novels, but his essays. Another Country is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it several times and also listened to it on audiobook. I'm stunned by his talent, his ability to write his characters so deeply from so many perspectives. And I'm also stunned by how his writing still seems ahead of his time, decades after he wrote it!
Anne Carson opened my mind to what a different kind of form poetry and essays could take. I own every book she has ever written--my favorites being her modern epic Autobiography of Red and Plainwater.
Rainer Maria Rilke is in many ways my spiritual guide. His Duino Elegies is a book I return to again and again. When looking for God, I go looking for Rilke.
Emily Dickinson was someone I came to later in life. In high school I was too dumb to get what she was doing and just thought she was some rhyming clown. In my late 20s I rediscovered her and fell in love with her through her poem "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain."
Patricia Highsmith is a new favorite author. I think her writing is masterful and I loved The Price of Salt.
Book you've faked reading:
In high school I faked reading all my books!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Mostly books by friends that are on smaller presses or no longer in print. Some favorites: WillieWorld by Maggie Dubris, Eating Chinese Food Naked by Mei Ng, How to Get into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak, Your Art Will Save Your Life by Beth Pickens.
Book you hid from your parents:
A book of lesbian poetry I bought before I came out. This is hilarious to me now! I can't even remember the author. They weren't even sex poems. They were just nature poems written by a lesbian. Hahahahahaha.
Favorite line from a book:
"Dear anyone who finds this. Do not blame the drugs." --Cruddy, Lynda Barry
Five books you'll never part with:
Maggie Nelson's Bluets, The Collected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Joe Brainard's I Remember, Randall Kenan's Let the Dead Bury Their Dead and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Stranger by Albert Camus. I remember buying this book right before I got on the subway and I was so absorbed I missed my stop. I read straight for two hours completely absorbed on a subway in NYC.