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19 Jul 2013

Western Lit: SoCal Poet Mira Gonzalez’s Debut Collection Finds Success With Deep Simplicity

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Mira Gonzalez Mira Gonzalez

When it comes to modern poetry, Mira Gonzalez is an invigorating force.

She recently released her first collection of poems, I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together, through Sorry House Publishing.

Originally from Venice, Calif., Gonzalez is the daughter of visual artist and singer Lora Norton, and the stepdaughter of Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski. Her mother, stepfather and brother, Milo, are also members of the Chuck Dukowski Sextet. While her family is known for music, Mira has made writing her creative outlet of choice. She lists Haruki Murakami, Tao Lin, and Virginia Woolf as her writing influences.

“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, or at least since I was very young,” Gonzalez said. “I guess I started focusing on writing poetry specifically sometime in early high school. I have always enjoyed reading and read a lot of books, which is what inspired me to start writing in general. What draws me specifically to poetry is how easily accessible it is for people who have a hard time or don’t enjoy reading full length novels.”

Gonzalez’s poems often focus on dating struggles, odd ex-boyfriends, depression and social angst, and the poems sometimes feature strange twists and turns. “Secular Humanist” is about a man named Stephen who is obsessed with naked women: “He wants to find every bone in your body, all two hundred and six of them. He wants to feel them through your naked skin with his fingertips. He wants to name them as he finds them.”

After she describes Stephen’s fantasies, Gonzalez ends the poem with, “He feels like a grain of sand, on a beach, that isn’t a real grain of sand, but is actually a very tiny piece of a clamshell from a clam that died 10 years ago.”

Gonzalez said much of her poem-writing process actually involves editing.

“When I write a poem, I usually sit down and type everything that comes to mind, which can sometimes be two to three pages or more,” Gonzalez said. “Once I have all of that out in front of me, I edit it down to only the best lines; then I edit each sentence to say what I mean to say in the most succinct way possible.”

The almost Zen-like simplicity of her poems stands out. They are deep, yet simple and powerful. She said her unique writing style didn’t come naturally to her.

“I don’t think doing that ‘comes naturally’ to anyone, really,” Gonzalez said. “I guess certain people could be more skilled at crafting sentences so that they express ‘big’ ideas in not very many words, but nobody can just sit down in front of a computer and write a sentence like that, no problem. For me, at least, it comes with a lot of careful thought and a lot of time spent editing. I will spend hours on one sentence sometimes, and if I feel that sentence isn’t expressing exactly what I want it to express, I will delete the sentence entirely. I think it takes a lot of precision and tedious work, and I’m still not entirely sure if I’m able to express things the way I want to express them”

The response to the book has been promising. The initial printing of 500 copies sold out very quickly, and Sorry House Publishing did a second printing. Gonzalez says that she’s very surprised by the book’s success.

“Any time copies of my book sell, I’m completely shocked,” Gonzalez said. “I didn't expect it to have anywhere near as much success as it did. I think a lot of credit for that can go to my editor, Spencer, who has done a great job marketing the book through Sorry House.”

I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together

By Mira Gonzalez

Sorry House

56 pages, $12.95, available at www.sorryhouse.com

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