Interview with E.C. Gannon

Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: We admire how in “Summer on the Back Porch” the speaker blurs the line between infatuation and obsession with the neighbor. How did you decide that this was the direction you wanted to go with the scene?

E.C. Gannon:  I am very interested in Denis Johnson’s short story “Beverly Home,” in which the narrator finds himself often standing outside the window of a townhouse after dark to watch the couple that lives there. It’s an incredibly unsettling story, let me be clear, but it got me thinking about at what point simple observation becomes creepy.

RR: The juxtaposition of matter-of-fact statements with personal statements is very compelling. How did you find the balance between that internal monologue and the speaker’s exterior?

ECG: My strategy is generally to include only as many “personal statements” as is absolutely necessary, keeping the bulk of the poem very matter-of-fact. When in the past I’ve tried to include a more even balance between the two, I’ve always found I’m telling the reader too much. I’ve learned to trust that the reader can figure out what I’m talking about or come to their own interpretation.

RR: Your website features photography of different places you’ve visited. How has your work in photography influenced your writing, or vice versa?

ECG:  I don’t know a thing about photography myself, but I am certainly very interested in it, and my writing tends to be very visual. Whenever I’m not sure what I want to write about, I tend to turn to Pinterest. I don’t write ekphrasis poems per se, but sometimes a photo will trigger some memory or make me think of something else, and I go from there.

RR:Your bio says that you have a degree in political science; how has that area of study impacted your writing?

ECG: Of course, it has made me feel more comfortable discussing sociopolitical issues, but it has also impacted my writing approach. At least in my experience, the major is very logical and algebraic (which makes sense given that it’s often the de facto pre-law major) but also very ambiguous and theoretical. I’ve begun looking at the process of writing as a sort of puzzle that doesn’t necessarily have one right or wrong answer. My job as the writer, then, is to put together certain pieces (tension, characterization, foreshadowing, etc.) to lead a hypothetical reader to some conclusion. As paradoxical as it sounds, I think having a background in a field other than just English has made me a stronger writer.

RR: We read that you’ve recently graduated from Florida State University—what have you been doing since graduation?

ECG: Yes, I graduated in December and have since been back home in New Hampshire working and trying to survive the MFA admission cycle. I’ll be heading to the University of New Mexico in August! Writing-wise, my focus has been on writing new fiction and editing/submitting old poems.


Read “Summer on the Back Porch” by E.C. Gannon in Issue 11.2.