Poets Online Talking About Coffee: Lisa Marie Basile

I’m in a coffee shop right now. Where you at?

Right now I am on a train heading to somewhere called Trailer Park Lounge. I have never been there before but it seems an appropriate place to see a friend I’ve not seen in over a year. It’s kitschy — can I say, I love kitsch?

I did just drink a Flat White to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it, or see the hype. I’m no visionary, but I don’t think milk is the point. It’s about the grinds, no? I feel we forget about the roots of things.

Anyways, now I’m at this place and I find it kind of amazing.


My grandparents, now departed both, lived in a trailer park for the better part of their older years. Down in Atlantic City. My family is very much invested in coffee as a centerpiece for conversation and life and death. Whenever someone dies, it’s always coffee. I guess I romanticize it as much as any other.

That was all extraordinarily disjointed, but I’m having that sort of day. Also, it’s nice to talk to you :-)

Yes, nice to talk to you too. Hey now, I’m listening to soft rock on Youtube. Do you wish it would rain down?

I know in my heart of hearts I’m never gonna hold you again.

By the way, it is midnight. I like that we’re sharing this moment.

I didn’t skip ad, went to another tab so was confused.

Tru dat, where did you have bloody marys?

I had 3 bloody marys with a friend. I like mine spicy, with pickled vegetables, the way they make them in New Orleans. I hate Worcestershire sauce. I can barely even pronounce that awful word.

My friend and I were fairly drunk while we discussed caesuras, how they’re our favorite things in all of writing.


Apocryphal mentions your Italian heritage in a number of poems. Was that a conscious decision for that collection?

Yes. Definitely. The Italian Jersey Girl trope is almost entirely negative; it’s the same for other ethnic and cultural stereotypes. I found a lot of beauty and intrigue in where I came from, even in the grit of it all. I came from a poor, Roman Catholic background. I spent a lot of time as a young girl wondering about God, about the body, about family or lack thereof. I have always aestheticized that drama, that romance, the looks, the sexual stereotype, the obsession with death that comes with that background. It’s almost necrophilic, all of it. In a way, I can’t let it go, even if I am technically an atheist American girl.

Would you say it’s a book for atheists or religious types?

The book is for neither, or everyone. I wrote it because I wanted something so bad, and that something was beyond what God or man could give to me. I used religion as a lens for storytelling because sometimes stories are crossed out and I don’t want to be crossed out but I am transgressive with or without religion.

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How do you decide which poems to publish in Luna Luna? Do you favour feminist poets, say?

I don’t favor feminist poets.

I believe that Luna is feminism in action. It is by default a feminist publication; this is because of our largely female editorship and our mission of giving voice to minorities.


So, we don’t seek out anything but talent. It doesn’t matter the poet’s belief system, though of course we don’t aim to publish assholes either. We have a few curators & they all have different tastes. I think if we can bring emerging and established talent to readers, that’s good. I’m so fucking sick of reading the same 30 cool poets. We don’t do that.

And you’re currently in the midst of 30 Days of Poetry for National Poetry Month 2015.

I am. I’m really late to the game with posting on time, but I am trying. I hate WordPress. I wish I lived in an old Victorian house on the ocean so I could sit and make Luna Luna my life, but I don’t have the time. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and worry about posting on time. Maybe I need an intern? Regardless, at the end of the month, there will be 30 poets who we’ve chosen to showcase. Those 30 aren’t comprised of the same old same olds. Sometimes we can’t help it but like the same old same olds, because a lot of those same olds are actually amazing, but in general, we just pick people who need more spotlight or who are doing some lovely things with words.

Hopefully you’re going to be writing about Lana del Rey for Queen Mob’s Teahouse soon. Why the obsession?

Yes, I am writing one or a few pieces. And one for QMT. Thank you!

When LDR became a thing, I wasn’t interested. I saw the vintage videos, the bad performances, the way the public reacted to her. It wasn’t that– I’m the last to care about my new music or cool music or whatever people think, but in her I saw a dreamscape–whether crafted or sincere, I don’t know–and I appreciated it. In a sea of platinum sugar, she was this sad, dark, listless conceptual being. Who cares if that’s obvious? I function very much in aesthetics; I like the palm trees and the vice and the (maybe?) forced drama. Isn’t that everything art should be? An extension of what dream worlds we build in our heads? They say she has dead eyes, is a symbol of something false, is a construction. I think mostly everything is a construction, and it all comes from a seed. Whatever her germination point, I like it. It’s sex and loss and the hyper awareness of the self. I like that she causes arguments, and that essentially she says almost nothing to really take part in them. I am interested in that talk of sincerity and source and objectification. I like that people think she’s x,y,z–and if they do, it’s because she’s threatening in some way. How can I not admire it?

And yes, I am putting together an anthology of poetry that explores some of the themes of Lana Del Rey – the aesthetics, the necro, the codependency. Luna Luna will publish it.

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