Saturday, December 21, 2019

Patrick Coleman

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Coleman's first novel is The Churchgoer.

From his Q&A with Micah Ling at Hobart:

What do you like about writing a poem? What do you like about writing a novel? How are the two similar?

Writing poems, for me, is personal. I always come back to Frost's thing about poetry being a "momentary stay against confusion." Reading a poem or writing one can help me see clearer for a few minutes, maybe a day or two: my own life, the world around me. It's more about staying open, playful, led by the heart instead of fearful, anxious, consumptive, and closed-off impulses.

Novel writing (at least this first time) is similar, but there's just a longer slog to it, and more attention to narrative structure. (My prose poems tend to have a lot of narrative, but still.) It's a bit more oriented around understanding others and social dynamics and social, political, or in this case also religious systems, and seeing them through a kind of quietly deconstructed noir lens.

But even there, I had to constantly find ways to make sitting down to write for that day serve some purpose in my life, for that day. That's part of why The Churchgoer evolved the way it did. The first draft I thought I could just write a fun detective novel, pretty quickly. I take absurd things seriously, and especially in the long revision process it became about exploring the overlaps between Evangelical culture and American culture and ideas of faith and faithlessness—things that were staying some of my own confusion, in a daily way. So maybe that's...[read on]
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Churchgoer.

The Page 69 Test: The Churchgoer.

--Marshal Zeringue