If you’ve read Erase the Patriarchy, the erasure anthology edited by Isobel O’Hare and published by University of Hell Press (2020), you may enjoy hearing what the editor and some of the poets have to say about the book and their work in it, respectively. The first interview in this series, in which I speak with Isobel themself, can be found here.
After spending some time with this dazzling anthology, I decided I wanted to spend a little more. I was delighted by the variety of topics and aesthetic approaches I found ensconced between the covers. It’s been a pleasure to listen to these folx discuss their work and the processes by which it came to exist.
This week, we get to hear from Tara Campbell.
Fox: Tell me a little bit about the work of yours that was selected for inclusion in this anthology. What was your process like in creating it? Were there any specific experiences, literary or otherwise, that helped precipitate this work?
Tara Campbell: My work was inspired by the fearmongering Trump used to fuel his whole campaign and presidency, in particular regarding his wall between the US and Mexico. I was thinking about dog whistles, the signals hidden in his speeches that his followers responded to, and how it didn’t take much to chip away to the toxic blend of scare tactics and jingoism behind the rhetoric. I based my erasure on his January 2019 immigration and border security speech, which I imagined as a brick wall, with the real meaning of his speech peeping through the holes in the wall.
Tell me a little about your experience with erasure as a form. How did you come to it? What have been your most rewarding experiences using it as an iconoclastic medium for your art?
I don’t use this format very often, actually. It’s something that bubbles up when I hear or read a particularly craven example of obfuscation—hence the political subject matter. When there’s disregard or actual devaluation of others hidden behind sophistry, I feel this need to peel away all the extraneous language to get to the core of how people in power often feel about those with less power.
What was your own experience of this book, reading through it after it was released? What new insights, if any, do you feel you gained from the collection?
I was blown away by the poetry found in the wide array of texts, and the creative materials with which artists blocked out words. Reading through the book has inspired me to push myself in future creations, to be more attentive to the visual element of an erasure, because the artistic presentation can be a powerful enhancement of the message.
What kind of experience(s) do you hope for readers to have of this book—and, specifically, your own work in the antho —as they make their way through it? Is there anything you hope they get to experience, feel, or consider from a fresh perspective?
With all of the work, I hope readers are inspired to question authority, asking themselves what assumptions authority figures bring into their proclamations. Those underlying assumptions about who deserves what in society are the underpinning of everything, and we have to look behind pretty language to unearth and assess those fundamental beliefs.
What are you working on now? Any new projects you’re particularly excited about?
I’m currently working on a novella-length book of linked flash fictions centering on fantastical cities. If you’re looking for a book about traveling gargoyles, flummoxed magicians, drunk butterflies, floating wolves, flying trumpets, and sentient chocolate bonbons, keep your eye out for this book.
Is there anything else about this book or your work that you’d like to share, that I didn’t ask about specifically?
I’ll just say that I was truly amazed and inspired by this book. I’m primarily a fiction writer, so it was quite an honor to be included, and when I got the actual book in my hands I was transfixed. I loved being exposed to this different reading experience, both because of how ingenious poets are with language, and because of the mind-opening creativity of the visual art. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to be a poet to appreciate this work. It resonates beyond genre!
🟣 🟣 🟣
Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and CRAFT Literary. She’s the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and four collections: Circe’s Bicycle, Midnight at the Organporium, Political AF: A Rage Collection, and Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. Connect with her at www.taracampbell.com or on Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom
Fox Henry Frazier is a poet, essayist, and visual artist. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of Southern California, where she was also a Provost’s Fellow. Her poetry collections include The Hydromantic Histories (Bright Hill Press, 2015), Like Ash in the Air After Something Has Burned (2017), and Raven King (Yes Poetry, 2022). Fox created Agape Editions. She lives in upstate New York with her daughter, her dogs, her gardens, and her ghosts.