Getting to Know Cindy Veach & Her New Book, Her Kind

When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems? 

My father was an English professor and he used to read poetry to me when I was very young. One of the poems I remember in particular was “Little Boy Blue” by Eugene Field. I know that poem is considered to be overly sentimental, but I think it showed me the power of poetry. I began writing poems when I was in the eighth grade. The first poem I remember writing was titled “Red Bird.” Sometimes I still write about birds.

Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?

I do have somewhat of a writing routine. I generally reserve my mornings for poetry. This could be anything poetry-related: writing new work, revising, editing, reading, or preparing for a reading. When writing new work I’m usually not at my desk. I’m typically outside (in good weather) or sitting in my living room. I prefer to write out first drafts in a notebook and then transfer them to the computer for revision.

Where do your poems most often “come from”—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?

All of the above! I’d also add memory to this list. I believe that memories choose us and not the other way around. I’m in an online group that writes and shares a poem a day for the first seven days of each month. On those seven days, I find that I am keenly aware of any images, phrases, sounds, ideas, or memories that might become the poem for that day. I only wish I could be that sharply focused every day.

Which writers (living or dead) have influenced you the most?

Emily Dickinson has been a lifelong influence. Also Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and James Wright. Living poets who I turn to for inspiration keep changing as I am constantly reading. Poets and books I’ve read or reread recently that have influenced me include Chloe Honum (The Tulip-Flame), Victoria Chang (OBIT), Jennifer Chang (Some Say the Lark), Diane Seuss (Frank: Sonnets), and Keetje Kuipers (All its Charms).

What excites you most about your new collection? 

This book began with an intense desire to counter the witch kitsch narratives of Salem, MA, but as I wrote those poems my vision for the book evolved and became more complicated. I discovered that the book wanted/needed to connect that history with contemporary events that were both personal and political. What excites me the most about Her Kind is that my vision for it was realized and that these narratives both historical and contemporary are now out in the world. 

Spectral Evidence
by Cindy Veach

Because she said she saw
and therefore 

these pinholes in her skin
on one arm to be exact—       

look how they crisscross
make a doily of the flesh—

and because she said she saw 
you not you

take a small pin 
from your pocket

a straight pin
with a flat head 

and because she said it was
it was

therefore you
therefore not a dream

puncturing each pore 
you in the flesh not flesh

with a common pin—

First published in Nimrod International Journal
Purchase Her Kind

Cindy Veach’s most recent book is Her Kind (CavanKerry Press). She is also the author of Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press), named a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a ‘Must Read’ by The Massachusetts Center for the Book, and the chapbook, Innocents (Nixes Mate). Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-DayAGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore and Salamander among othersShe is the recipient of the Philip Booth Poetry Prize and the Samuel Allen Washington Prize. Cindy is co-poetry editor of Mom Egg