Q&A and Reading with Leah Umansky of Uptown Poets

Looking forward to the upcoming Uptown Poets Reading this Thursday, we are pleased to share our Q&A with poet Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky is the author of the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014) and a full-length collection, Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX 2013). She is the curator of the COUPLET Reading Series in NYC, and writes for Tin House. Her poems can be seen in such places as Poetry Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail, among others.

 
How did you come to write Don Dreams and I Dream?
I fell I love with Don Draper. Most people loathe him, but I feel that I understand him. I came late to the program, and started watching when season 3 was on Netflix. I found myself often pausing the episodes and taking notes. I was fascinated by the characters but also by Matthew Weiner’s portrayal of gender and power.  One night, I sat down to write, and looked at those notes. Onepoem, soon became 15 poems.  The show has some of the best writing, but the characters are also so developed.  I saw such a connection between myself and so many of the characters, but it’s really Don that got me.  He’s tarnished, he’s lost, but he’s also just looking for someone to really understand him. Someone who will really just love him.
 
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Wunderkammer by Cynthia Cruz, and Repetition by Rebecca Reilly.
 
Do you have a personal favorite book or work of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?
Wuthering Heights is my all-time favorite book.  It’s the brooding romantic in me.  The first time I read that book, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.  I’d also say The Once and Future King by T.H White.  I came late to reading for fun. I didn’t particularly enjoy books until  10th grade English, a grade I love to teach myself, when I started reading mostly British literature. I never looked back.
 
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to the publication of?
So many good books are coming out this Spring. I’m looking forward to Miranda Field’s new book of poems, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Barbara Louise Ungar’s Immortal Medusa and eager to see what Andrew Sean Greer’s next novel will be about.
 
What’s next? Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?
My third book of poems is a new full-length collection focusing on gender and power in our 21st century and that of the worlds of Mad Men and Game of Thrones.  It is currently looking for a home.