The Proust Questionaire: Cate Marvin

CatemarvinWho are your favorite heroes or heroines in fiction?
Esther Greenwood in Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar.

What fictional characters do you most dislike?
Updike’s Rabbit.

What is your most marked characteristic?

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A tendency to rush toward judgement.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your favorite season?
Autumn and spring. Both surge with such evocative, memory-inducing smells.

What living person do you most admire?
My mother. Smartest person I know.

If you could be a non-human animal for a day, what would you be?
Dolphin. This mammal lives in water.

What do your friends say about you behind your back?
I hope to never know.

Where or when were you the happiest?
Houston, Texas. My years in graduate school when I was 25 and writing like a fiend, living alone for the first time ever, writing like a fiend, and walking my dog, the downtown skyscrapers all lit up like apparitions against the smog-filled backdrop of night sky.

What are your pet peeves?
Any and all forms of vagueness in language, written and spoken.

Who are your favorite musicians?
Leonard Cohen. Blond Redhead. Tricky. Beck. Led Zeppelin.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Rodney Jones, Adam Zagajewski, Adrienne Rich.

What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could sing. Really sing.

What is your present state of mind?
Pensive and somewhat agitated. Worried that I won’t wake to catch a flight that leaves at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Did I have the sense to pack everything I’ll need? Etc.

On what occasions do you lie?
When I wish to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Sylvia Plath.

What is your favorite journey?
A day spent in Manhattan, heading every which way, on the subway.

What living person do you most despise?
Not one you would know.

What is your greatest fear?
Being a bad mother.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Owning a house.

What is your greatest hope?
Being a good mother.

What do you most value in your friends?

Who are your favorite writers?
Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Les Murray, Paul Celan, Matthew Arnold, Adelia Prado.

What is your motto?
“Be specific.”

Cate Marvin’s first book of poems, “World’s Tallest Disaster,” was chosen by Robert Pinksy for the 2000 Kathryn A. Morton Prize and published by Sarabande Books in 2001. In 2002, she received the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. She is co-editor with poet Michael Dumanis of the anthology “Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century.” Her second book of poems, “Fragment of the Head of a Queen,” for which she received a Whiting Award, appeared in 2007. She teaches poetry writing at Columbia University’s MFA program and Lesley University’s low-residency MFA program, and is an associate professor in creative writing in the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. She will be teaching a morning poetry workshop at the 2011 Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.