Ask the Author: Julie Babcock

Julie Babcock’s poetry graces the April issue of PANK and she talks with us about grandmothers, Carmen Sandiego during her golden years and the mother of all songs.

1. What would the dodo advise a grandmother? Would it be about extinction or something unexpected?

I don’t think a dodo would give very good advice and I don’t think Grandmother would take it. Maybe he would tell her not to worry about those heat bills.

2. What made you write a series of poems involving grandmothers? How different would the poems be if you used uncles or cousins?

These poems are part of a larger project I am working on where Grandmother is a central figure. When my son was born I was awed by how quickly our roles in life change and how much toughness these changes require. Grandmother has gone through the most changes and Grandmother is the toughest.

3. What would Carmen Sandiego be like as a grandmother? Would you have to lock your medicine chest when she visits?

I don’t know much about Carmen Sandiego. Isn’t she an evil spy with a cool hat? If she let her grandchildren try on the hat from time to time I think the world would be a better place.

4. The title “grandmother” for some reason makes me think of something large or impressive, like a yacht or a giant robot. Why do you think the word is more associated with age than with impressiveness?

Impressiveness is a great word for Grandmother! Grandmother is absolutely impressive, but unlike a yacht or a giant robot she also has a mysterious heart that holds more different ways to love than I am still capable of understanding. I think that most of us feel this. The infantilizing of Grandmother in pop culture I guess makes some sort of stupid capitalist sense. Grandmother doesn’t need to buy things. Grandmother makes things and Grandmother makes do. These traits haven’t been publicly valued in American culture for a while, but I think our current recession is changing this value system.

5. What is your favorite song that involves the word “Mother” in the song title or in the lyrics?

Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” comes to mind. Also, Moby Grape’s “Hey Grandma.” Grandmother can dance!

  • I enjoyed those poems quite a bit. Hearing them was especially satisfying.