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Interview: Brian U. Garrison


Photo of a copy of Little Thoughts Press Issue 7: Fabulous Facts

A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Seven: Fabulous Facts with a sneak peek of Brian U. Garrison's literary limericks.

 

When Brian U. Garrison is not writing limericks, you can find him in Portland, Oregon, wishing he were writing limericks. When he is writing limericks, don’t bother him, okay? Sheesh. More online at www.bugthewriter.com.

 

Little Thoughts Press: To quote you about you: “I have poetry, true stories, made-up stories, nonsense stories, rhyming stories, animal stories, human stories, and a bunch of ideas that are still hazy around the edges.” That is quite the range!


Have you seen any common thread(s) in your work?


Brian U. Garrison: Imaginative writing is where I thrive. The genres of science fiction and fantasy call to me the most. I like to be playful with what's possible, whether that's making up new words, meeting fantastic characters, or working with unbelievable technology.


Of course, I also like to anchor in reality and nonfiction with my writing. Sometimes people say that science fiction is escapist. It is seen as a way to ignore the real world, but I see science nonfiction and science fiction as two perspectives that help us see the boundary between real and unreal.


As I try to gain some understanding of the question, "What is life?" I think it's important to explore many angles and ideas. So maybe one of the common threads in my work is curiosity.


Little Thoughts Press: Can you describe the particular kids you hope to reach with your stories?


Brian U. Garrison: I am interested in a wide range of topics, so I hope my stories make it to kids who are interested in learning more. I hope each reader can walk away with something new whether it's their first time reading about Ann and Jane Taylor or whether they have written a book about Ann and Jane Taylor!


I don't need everyone to love the same topics I do, but perhaps when I write about poets, dwarf planets, brains, music, ecology, or societal expectations, I hope my work inspires them to read more. Reading deeply on a topic provides expertise. Reading widely provides perspective. I hope my readers can then take knowledge and do something exciting with it out in the world.


Little Thoughts Press: You recently published a collection of micropoetry, Micropoetry for Microplanets, and your poems featured in Fabulous Facts are all short limericks. What draws you to these bite-size poems and what do you think poets gain from working within the constraints of form and brevity?


Brian U. Garrison: Time is precious. Why use 11 words when 10 will do?


I like the challenge of saying something meaningful without squishing the reader with my steamroller of words. Writing short poetry is to accept that each reader will arrive with thoughts of their own, and each reader will take my words somewhere different.


I have to accept that I don't have every answer.



Little Thoughts Press:  In honor of Issue 7's theme, Fabulous Facts, tell us one fabulous fact about yourself.


Brian U. Garrison: One year my friend and I created our high school's unofficial chess club. This mostly meant he and I would spend lunch in the English teacher's classroom. The Turkish exchange student joined a few times. I usually lost.


Little Thoughts Press: How did you get started writing kid-lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for kids?


Brian U. Garrison: I branched into kid-lit writing while spending time in a Head Start classroom. I took an AmeriCorps job where I got to hang out and build literacy and pre-literacy skills. That's a long-winded way to say I read picture books to preschoolers.


One of my favorite things about kid-lit is the artistic collaboration. Children's writing really encourages the interaction between words and visual art. To create something amazing, I am dependent on the expertise of other people.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Brian U. Garrison: I still have the tattered Shel Silverstein poetry books that my siblings and I read over and over when we were younger. The songs from Bread and Jam for Frances still echo in my mind. I think we wore out the cassette tape of A Pocket for Corduroy.


I remember my first time seeing the fold-outs of Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. There's an alternate universe out there where I'm entirely obsessed with pop-up books because of that. Unfortunately, this is not that universe. But I do have a love for artistic collaborations and unique creations.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Brian U. Garrison: My knee-jerk reaction continues to be Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I love her books and the unique approach each one takes.



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Brian U. Garrison: Enjoy school. Try to have some fun even with the things you have to do for class.



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