The Lightning Room: Blog People

[PANK] Interviews Editor Diana Clarke is a facilitator of the unexpected. She is a brilliant asker. Her approach both to writing and to conversations with other writers is vivid and curious, articulate and pointed. The fiery result of this approach comes across not only in her interviews, but also in her other work – including her film reviews, her writing about urban space and culture and her work translating Yiddish women poets. The stories she tells – and the ones she draws out of her subjects so deftly – are deeply dimensional.

Below, Clarke talks Lolita, lightning, pleats, vulnerability and Yiddish.


–Interview by Temim Fruchter


1. Many of us are scattered across the country and only know one another, and our writers, from the internet. Where do you blog from?

Mostly I blog from coffee shops. I find I can do the work much better–much truer, with more presence and intention–away from my home. My favorite cafe in Northampton, Massachusetts, where I’m living these days, has huge windows and great people-watching. I love sitting in the ambient communal energy, able to be still because of all the motion around me.

2. Okay, maybe this is a cheating question, but here goes: What is your dream question, the question you’d want any interviewer worth their salt to ask YOU? Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

When Temim Fruchter began writing her monthly column Between the Bones for the [PANK] blog, she described “[m]y blunt grown-up pancake feet, with their no arches, my feet with their chipped red polish, my feet like a golem’s – ungraceful stones, impostors in shoes.” This former drummer for the Jewish feminist punk band The Shondes maintains historical immediacy and bodily consciousness in this edition of our series of interviews with the blog people, who keep the [PANK] internet chugging and full of poetry.

Interview by Diana Clarke

1. Many of us are scattered across the country and only know one another, and our writers, from the internet. Where do you blog from? 
I blog from a house on the edge of a forest in Washington, DC.

2. In what ways is a blog person like a bog person?  Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

Welcome, once again, to Blog People, a venture here at the Lightning Room which gives you the pertinent deets on our fellow denizens of The Blog. In this installment, DeWitt Brinson presents the progression of the physical into a single syllable, as Scott Pinkmountain asks you to go with him and you must not ask where. Check out his Column Work: Surviving The Arts

1. What is the importance of art? Both the word and the concept?

Just to scrape the edge of this infinite question, I’ve been thinking a lot about how art has the potential to be one of the very few non-capital-driven endeavors in our otherwise Capitalist-circumscribed existences. For that purpose alone, it’s a life line. At this point in our culture, to be engaged in any public endeavor that is not for the purpose of making or spending money is essentially a radical political action. If you view family life, daily functional creativity (cooking, childcare, walking, sewing, etc..) and intimacy and play among friends and loved ones as private endeavors, spiritual practice as a kind of in between, and art as a public practice, art is pretty much it aside from direct political activism for standing up to genocidal, oligarchic Capitalism as it’s being perpetrated today.

As for the word, I don’t know it has any importance per say, but I’m glad it’s a simple, single syllable, grunt-like word akin to food, sleep, sex, birth, death. It helps strengthen the case for it being an imperative life function.

2. What’s your guilty pleasure?

If I could talk about it in public I wouldn’t actually be feeling much guilt about it, so there’s no honest answer to this question aside from declining to answer. But in terms of pop culture, I eat all kinds of shit and usually hate myself for it while/after it’s happening – superhero movies being my Achilles Heel, as I grew up reading and loving all things Marvel. I don’t feel guilt about that stuff though, just self-loathing and embarrassment. I draw the line at reality tv though. I have to preserve some self-respect. Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

To best understand Mia Sara’s interview it is necessary that you stand up, forget about Julie, and get yourself to the top of the Chrysler building. Check out her column Wrought & Found.

 Interview by DeWitt Brinson

1) Where do you find the photos? Do you search for them or wait until they find you?

“Woman, stuck in a bag, on the Chrysler Building.” An example of my everyday image search. Also, I’m colorblind, so I tend to like images in black and white, but sometimes color is worth it.

2) What’s the most common sound in your current life?

The sound of my daughter talking to her “Nintendog” Sparky.

 3) What was the first poem you fell in love with and how does that differ from the first person you loved?

 “Down By The Salley Gardens” by W.B. Yeats. The first person I loved was of Irish extraction, melancholy, and musical. Not so different. Still some of my favorite attributes, I’m a sucker for a melancholy baby. Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

Welcome, once again, to Blog People, a venture here at the Lightning Room in which interview editors Simon and DeWitt interview their fellow denizens of The Blog. In our third installment, Simon interviews Randon Billings Noble, our reviews editor.


1. What do you do outside of PANK? I’m always curious to hear about the daytime lives of people working in the small press/literary magazine community.

I write – usually essays, right now a collection of them – and wrangle our three-year-old twins.

2. Where are you, spiritually and geographically? Our team is a far-flung one.

Geographically? Washington, DC. Spiritually? New York. Or Sunshine, Wyoming.

3. Can you tell us about your first-ever experience with PANK?

Nope. Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

Hello! Welcome back to Blog People, a venture here at the Lightning Room in which interview editors Simon and DeWitt interview their fellow denizens of The Blog. In our second installment, Simon interviews Dan Pinkerton, author of the column “Marvelous Medicine.”

1. You write the monthly column “Marvelous Medicine” (often subtitled “Books for Precocious Kids and Kid-Hearted Grown-ups”) for PANK –could you tell us a little about it, and perhaps its beginnings?

Sheila was familiar with my writing, so when she took over as editor of the PANK blog she asked if I’d like to contribute something on a regular basis.  I was enthusiastic about doing a themed column, but neither Sheila nor I were too keen on the first couple ideas I proposed.  Then I had one of those eureka moments as I was reading to my kids.  They are six and eight, so they’re starting to read some of the books I remember enjoying as a child, so I envisioned writing a monthly piece on children’s books that might hold some appeal for literary-minded adults.  I presented the idea to Sheila and she approved (perhaps because she also has young kids at home?).

I’ve started by discussing some writers who will likely be familiar to PANK fans – Donald Barthelme, George Saunders, Matthea Harvey – but I’m hoping to branch out and explore “lost” (out of print) books and underappreciated authors. Continue reading

The Lightning Room: Blog People

Hello! Welcome to Blog People, a new venture here at the Lightning Room in which interview editors Simon and DeWitt interview their fellow denizens of The Blog. For our first installment, Simon talks with Sherrie Flick, author of the monthly column “Eat Drink Book.”

1. Can you talk a little bit about your column, “Eat Drink Book”? By my understanding, it seems to be a mixture of food and drink in literature, and literature in food and drink – what inspired it?

I have ongoing obsessions with both food and writing so it seemed natural to combine them when Sheila Squillante invited me to write for PANK. In my column I look at food/drink in literature on a variety of levels. Recreating food from some books and eating it and reporting in on the results/revelations, looking closely at food within the text, and sometimes including recipes. I want to discover and explore the ways food and literature intersect.

2. Did you have a particular journey-through-food-to-literature or journey-through-literature-to-food? Or have the two always gone hand in hand?

The two have pretty much gone hand in hand for me, although I’ve come to connect them more directly in recent years. I was an English Lit major with a creative writing focus as an undergrad at the University of New Hampshire, and I also worked my way through school at a wonderful bakery in the nearby town of Portsmouth. I continued to work as a professional baker (and write) after I graduated and moved to San Francisco. My creative process is tied to baking in so many ways. (Here’s an essay I wrote about that for Necessary Fiction.)

3. The community of PANK is such a widespread one. Where are you located – beyond the internet – and what do you do there outside of PANK?

I live in Pittsburgh. I’m a fiction and non-fiction writer, and I teach adjunct in Chatham University’s MFA and Food Studies programs. I work freelance as a writer and copy editor for (mainly) arts organizations, and I write a regular garden-to-table food column for Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine. I occasionally curate literary programs around town (previously, I was Artistic Director for the Gist Street Reading Series for 10 years). I cook and bake and garden, and I also play the ukulele.

4. How did you come to know PANK, and to be involved with it?

I’ve known and admired PANK through social media connections for some time and got to know PANK a bit more through Sheila Squillante.

5. What book – not a cookbook, that’s the easy way out – makes you hungriest when you read it? This doesn’t necessarily have to be about food; we’re talking appetites in general.

Wow. That’s a hard one. A book that was important to me in understanding how fiction and food can connect in amazing ways is Jim Crace’s The Devil’s Larder. It’s a book of fantastical flash fiction all focused on food – but in doing so it’s also focused on family and love and hate and lust too. So I’d credit The Devil’s Larder with whetting my appetite in many ways.

6. Of all the books you’ve read, what is one impossible food or drink that you’re dying to try? (This can either be ‘impossible’ as in ‘utterly fantastical’ or ‘impossibly impractical or difficult to prepare.’)

I would love to sit at John Singer’s table in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. He would silently serve me wine and gin and oranges that he’d pulled from his closet, and I would tell him my deepest secrets.

Sherrie Flick is author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness and the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting. She lives in Pittsburgh.

Simon Jacobs curates the Safety Pin Review, a wearable medium for work of fewer than 30 words. He may be found at