Super-Author Adam Gallari

Adam Gallari is an American ex-pat currently working on a novel and pursuing a PhD at the University of Exeter. Originally from New York, he holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside, and his essays and fiction have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous outlets, including The Quarterly Conversation, Fifth Wednesday Journal,, and The MacGuffin. His debut collection, We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now, was published by Ampersand Books in April.

*Please note, this is not Adam. But it is a Curve Ball.

How did you come up with the concept for “We are Never as Beautiful as we are Now?”

I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of male friendship, what constitutes it, the unwritten rules of it, how to guys will communicate with each other. All the things that are said without their ever been actually articulated. I also wanted to try and look at people who seemed to be at a crossroads in their lives. Those little moments that seem inconsequential at the time but which ultimately carry so much weight and which we only realize were important when we look back on them.

Your characters (for the most part) seem to have two things in common, they are baseball players and they are on some existentialist search for meaning. Do you think the meaning of life can be found in baseball?

I get asked this questions a lot, and I think that baseball is a great analogy for life. A Bartlett Giamamitti summed it up best when he spoke of how baseball arrives in the spring, fills you with hope, stays for the course of the summer and then, once the cold and gloom of autumn unfolds, the game leaves you to deal with that alone. If there’s anything that baseball teaches, it’s resiliency. It’s the only game designed for its players to fail, but it also gives them the chance to come back the next day and go at it again. I think that’s the most beautiful aspect of the whole thing.

When I read your book the name “Hemingway” kept flashing in my mind. Is he a model for your work?

Hemingway was a model, at times. I read a lot of him when I was younger, and when I had no idea what I was doing, so there is an influence, but I’m not sure it would be as strong as it would be if I read him again now. I do think he’s a brilliant writer, and I’ve recently started re-reading The Sun Also Rises. I want to look at it now that I’m a little bit older and I might hazard more mature. As an aside though, I think that there are a lot of people who gravitate towards Hemingway because it seems like his writing style is so simple, but he’s so precise he almost fools you into not seeing how immensely talented he was that he could pack so much into so little.

What does Baseball mean to you?

I’ll describe it this way, the best and easiest comparison would be to say that baseball is like a girl I had a crush on I was younger. You’re infatuated. You have all of these grand notions, and you put your heart and soul in it not realizing it has the potential to hurt you amazingly or that you can effect it in the same manner. So you fly by the seat of your pants and have a great time but ultimately you’re either too idealistic or too stupid for it to last. Baseball’s like that. I have great memories and I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s definitely chapter of my life that has been closed. I still watch it from time to time, but it can be hard to get through.

Have you ever been the last kid picked to play?

When I was living in Germany I volunteered a few times a week to teach baseball gym classes to a local high school, and occasionally afterwards the kids would have a bit of recess time and start playing soccer. I stuck around a few times, and by the end of it all, it was clear that I was just going to end up going last.

Please teach me how to pitch a curve ball.

I’ve showed you already! But I’ll refresh. You need to slide your fingers around the horseshoes part of the seam and hook your thumb deep underneath the ball. You throw it the same way as a fastball until the very end, when you drop you wrist to the slide and instead of throwing outward and with the tips of your fingers you yank your arm down as though you are pulling down a window shade.

Now please teach me how to apply pitching a curve ball to lessons in love and life.

Throw it the best you can and hope you don’t leave it hanging over the middle of the plate for the batter to crush. That sounds apt, right?

Ampersand Books (with its collection of very talented and young writers) seems the perfect fit for your voice. Ampersand Books appears to operate as its own sort of baseball team. How did you get recruited to play for the Ampersand team?

Jason Cook is both amazing and crazy. That’s how I’ll start that one off. Originally I sent off a short story to the Ampersand Review, and I got the snarkiest, most obnoxious rejection letter, literally written in the form of a break up note. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be really confused, but in the end I kind of felt, oh yeah, I’ll send you something else. And when I got the response for that piece I just assumed, given its similar tone, that it was another rejection. I filed it away and then the next day I went back to look at it, and realized it wasn’t a rejection. Once I finished my collection I went big first, tried the whole agent route, etc, and then figured it would be best to go small, independent and hopefully be lucky enough to find someone that both liked the collection and had something at stake in it. Jason’s email back pretty much was that. He said he liked that I wasn’t afraid of subtly, and that he felt it was something that you rarely saw in a lot of the stuff being published now. The line-up is rather eclectic and pretty dynamic. Each book they’ve put out is definitely its own animal with its own, unique way of viewing the world. I’m very happy to be a part of it and just hope I can help the ball club. (You know I had to give you at least one baseball cliché right?)

Super-Author: Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder is the author of When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother (Ampersand Books, February 2010).

She is the chief editor of La Petite Zine and curates the Polestar Poetry Series. By day, she is a publicity manager at Penguin.

Broder received her BA from Tufts University and is getting a slow, scenic MFA at CCNY. She won the 2009 Stark Prize for Poetry and the 2008 Jerome Lowell Dejur Award. Her poems appear, or are forthcoming, in many journals, including: Opium, Shampoo,  PANK, Five Dials, The Del Sol Review, Word for/Word, Miracle Monocle and Swink.

She lives in Brooklyn.

How do you think your collection fits into the larger tradition of poetics? In other words, do you consider yourself the next Billy Collins?

Rumor has it Mr. Collins got ahold of the poem “Dear Billy Collins” and he liked it, but he also said I shouldn’t be so sure he’s above using the word “fingerbang.”

As to where I fit into the larger tradition of poetics, I read a lot of poetry and I write a lot of poetry.

Usually when I ask authors to help define what the reoccurring images signify in their collection, I’m referring to trees, birds, or bunnies. But with your work I must say “what does finger banging mean to the collection as a whole?” (I feel weird now. I also feel strangely liberated. Thanks.)

You’re welcome. But Nicelle? Fingerbanging is one word, okay.

Thematically I think the book addresses a very human instinct to elevate ourselves from the material world by using what we have: the material world. Tattoos, gurus, the perfect cheese board, it’s like, right intention, wrong door. The fixes that quell the big questions of our lives end up comprising our lives.

How did you decide on the order that the poems would appear in the collection?

I have poets Jason Scheiderman and David Groff to thank for that, as well as my editor Jesse Bradley and my publisher Jason Cook. They also gave the poems some serious pruning. I believe their exact words were: “Too many exclamation points make baby Jesus weep.”

Romancing the Detox seems to resist closure—almost like a cliffhanger. Will there be a sequel to When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother?

The poems I’m writing now continue to contend with what we use to stuff the hole in the donut of our lives. So yes, it looks like “Mother” might have a daughter one of these days. But whether the  narrative voice in “Romancing the Detox” will “burst into flames” still remains to be seen.

Did you find poetry? Or did poetry find you?

Poetry found me binge-eating Fruit Roll-Ups in Third Grade. I thank Mrs. Hovey in the book’s acknowledgments.

What advice would you give to the beginning poet?

Get down with O.P.P. (other people’s poems) and steal nouns.

Super-Author J. Bradley

J. Bradley is the author of Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009) and the author of the upcoming flash fiction chapbook The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You Is A Robot (Safety Third Enterprises, 2010).  He is the Interview Editor of PANK Magazine and lives at

What is your relationship with poetry? How did you meet? Where do you think this affair will lead you?

Poetry has always been faithful to me so I love it, nurture it, and occasionally trick it out when I need money/booze/cuddling. We met because I was into a girl when I was 16 and I started writing poetry because of her. Hopefully, this affair will not leave me poor.

Is there a difference between slam poetry and page poetry?

Page poetry tends to be more subtle and challenging where poetry in slams tend to be direct since there’s only a set time limit. Page poetry sometimes does not work aloud in a performance setting while stage poetry does not work in text. I try to bridge this gap in my work so even the short poems can be read aloud.

What do you think the spoken word can do to help the page poet?

Make them more engaging readers, teach them to read aloud better their work and the works of others, make them more engaging humans.

When loose oxygen becomes a chalkboard, what do you write on it?

My inspiration comes from being an active observer, from conversations I have with friends, from really anything. It would depend on what inspires me in that moment what I write on the chalkboard.

What did your skeleton teach you about love?

You will break, you will heal, you will learn from the fissures how not to love, you will learn from the fissures how to love again.

On your deathbed, what will your last words be?

Do not run from the monsters you create.

What will your next poetic adventure be?

I have a flash fiction chapbook coming out soon called “The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You Is A Robot”. It will be the first chapbook to come out through Safety Third Enterprises based out of Atlanta. I’m also doing shows on May 30 on Full of Crow Radio, June 19 in Pensacola, and July 17 in Atlanta.

June / July Poetry Challeng: Talk Back to Spoken Word Poetry

Here is a new poetry challenge for Bees’ Knees writers; answer any of J. Bradley’s poetic questions with poems. The poem deemed “best” answer will receive a copy of J. Bradley’s book, Dodging Traffic.

“Would You Like to Take a Survey?” is taken from J. Bradley’s book, Dodging Traffic, a publication of Ampersand Books. You can buy your very own copy here: Ampersand Books

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

How did your soul feel
when archangels circumcised it
with flaming swords?

Do you wear boredom
as a plastic bag
over your head or
use the loose oxygen
around it like a chalkboard?

When you wake up in the morning,
do you shuffle to the bathroom
as though your footsteps edit your obituary?

Did your skeleton
craft the lesson plan
that taught you
how to love?

Who made your hands stammer
the first time they cradled a waist
on the last day of summer?

How would you outlaw
“I don’t know”?

Is it more important to show
that you love someone
by boxing up the sunset
with your fists or to tell
the one you love
you would box up the sunset
with your fists?

Do you treat near misses
as flesh wounds
or rope ladders?

When did the stars
give us permission
to compare them
to beauty marks?

If the ghost of Miles Davis
haunted your lips,
would you play your lover’s asshole
like a saxophone?

When you first rode a bike,
did you skin your knees
or your elbows?

Which is the greater sin
unapologetically square dancing
on your enemy’s tomb
or apologizing for something
you didn’t do?

If your imaginary friends
held a conference,
what kind of Power Point presentation
would you make?

Did the earth move
or was it your delusions
that made the ground quake?

How would you woo
a pterodactyl to bed?

What song would you
slow dance in a kitchen to
and who would you
slow dance with?

If you had one wish,
would you wish
for more wishes?

When did your palms
mistake themselves as satellite dishes
that beamed prayers to God?

When you’re on your death bed,
will you kick yourself
for not rehearsing your last words?

And when did questions
start asking themselves
for answers?