Baymax is the Best: A Drunkerview with Erica Abbott

First off, you can only watch one Disney movie for the rest of your life; which one are you choosing and why?

Wow, what a first question! I think this would ultimately really depend on my mood but probably Big Hero 6. I think it’s still a very underrated Disney movie and who doesn’t love Baymax (and some Fall Out Boy songs)? If I was looking for a more musical-type movie, though, I’d probably have to go with Coco or The Lion King. Despite these movies all having their really sad moments, they’re just so fun and I find myself returning to them time and time again. But just going with one, it’s definitely Big Hero 6 if for no other reason than the losing air/low battery scene. I mean, Baymax is amazing and I absolutely intend on naming my future corgi after that squishy robot.

Pretend you’re trapped on an island. Gimme three things you’re bringing with you.

A good pen, my notebook, and my phone (assuming there was some way the battery could stay charged). Those probably aren’t the most practical items but, as a writer, they are absolute necessities.

Your debut chapbook SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SINKING SHIP is out this fall — that’s super exciting! Tell me more about it!

Thank you, yes, I’m super excited! Publishing a book of my poems has been a dream of mine for so long and I can’t believe my debut chapbook will soon be out in the world. Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship contains 18 poems and they are all, of course, very personal to me, but at the same time, I think and hope that they will resonate with a lot of people. The chapbook is divided into two sections, “Darkness” and “Hope” as anchored by a contrapuntal aptly titled “Darkness and Hope,” which was first published in Toho (the publisher of the chapbook).

The Darkness section deals mainly with mental illness, especially anxiety, and all of the things that have happened in my life over the past couple of years. From my mom’s cancer diagnosis, to losing friends, to having a health scare myself, the years leading up to 2020 were really difficult and before the pandemic, it had just started feeling like things were starting to get back on track. My hope is that those anxieties and dark moments are well-translated from my pen to the page and others can see themselves in the lines. On the flip side, Hope covers the people, places, and things that really helped keep my head above water most days and kept me hopeful. The people I love most and my own resilience and strength are present on every page there. 

I’ve been working on this since June when I first heard the news that it was being published and I am so ecstatic that it will soon be in the hands of everyone who has supported me and, hopefully, the people who need it most.

Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship: Erica Abbott

I see you’re also a Broadway fan. Have you been to a lot of shows?

Oh yeah, before the pandemic, the theatre was like a second home to me. I’ve seen at least 60 shows, among Broadway, touring, regional, and community productions. The very first Broadway show I saw was The Phantom of the Opera with my mom back in 2013 and I immediately became obsessed. 

Some of my favorites that I’ve gotten to see either on Broadway or through a touring production include the Once On This Island revival, Wicked, Hamilton, Hadestown, Come From Away, RENT, Kinky Boots, Something Rotten! and…I could probably go on for hours. I’m also incredibly grateful to have an amazing local theatre scene in my city so I’ve gotten to see many more shows that I might not have gotten the chance to on Broadway or Off-Broadway through regional productions and my boyfriend’s community theatre group. Legally Blonde, Shrek, The Addams Family, and Crazy for You—just to name a few. I look forward to seeing the curtain rise again someday.

Google Docs vs Microsoft Word. Who ya got?

Google Docs for sure. That way I can edit and work on stuff whether I’m on my phone or laptop. I actually try to open my laptop only when necessary, especially because I’m still using the same sticker-covered MacBook Pro I had in college. So Google Docs makes it super easy to access things I’m working on whenever and wherever!

I’m always interested in how people got into writing. How did you start writing? Did you always like it?

I’ve always liked writing but I really started loving and appreciating poetry when I joined the poetry club back in high school. The teacher who led the club made poetry fun and interesting and really allowed for the students to explore and find their voice. I still remember having to read Mary Oliver’s “The Poet with His Face in His Hands” as sort of a precursor to “officially” being part of the club and it’s still one of my favorites to this day. I’ve written poetry since my freshman year of high school and I hope it’s always a part of my life. I still have the poems I wrote as part of that club taped into a hardcover notebook that I used to keep all my poems in. 

This year, my love for poetry has only grown as I began to take workshops and classes with fellow poets. At the start of the pandemic, I took a poetry workshop with Sierra DeMulder and then a month or so later took the Poems That Don’t Suck course with Megan Falley. That introduced me to poets from not only around the country, but around the world. Since then, I’ve done a few workshops with poets Andrea Gibson, Neil Hilborn, and Kelly Grace Thomas. Every time I learn something new, my love for poetry grows even stronger.

Guilty pleasure TV show. Go!

I’ve been binge-watching Schitt’s Creek and The Office on Netflix recently. I’m already up to season three on Schitt’s Creek and I’m trying my best to get through every episode of The Office before Netflix removes it. They’re just what I’ve needed to watch to turn the outside world off for a while in this difficult year. My most guilty pleasure shows though are reality-TV wedding shows—some moments are just so crazy, but mostly they’re hilarious.

Finally: any current projects you’re working on? What are your writing goals for 2021?

I’m not actively working on any other projects right now, but I do have all of my poems at the ready to start a new manuscript when I’m ready. As far as 2021 writing goals go, I hope to participate in more writing workshops/courses and meet even more incredible poets along the way. I also hope to submit more because that’s something that I haven’t been doing nearly as much as I had hoped this year. I would love to get maybe 20 or 30 pieces published next year and I know that’s going to start with writing, revising, and submitting a lot. Getting accepted into some of my top journals is a big goal.

Overall, I hope to really prioritize my writing in the new year, fall even more in love with poetry, and spend lots of time with the people who have supported me through all of my writing adventures.

Erica Abbott has been published or has work forthcoming in Toho Journal, perhappened, and Flora Fiction. She will be releasing her first poetry chapbook Self Portrait as a Sinking Ship this year. Find her on Instagram @poetry_erica and on Twitter @erica_abbott.

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