Gladys Justin Carr is an award-winning poet whose work has been published in over 100 literary magazines and journals. She is a recovering publishing executive who dropped out of Korporate Amerika to write full time. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, she was the Nicolson Trustee Fellow at Smith College and the Wilcox Fellow at Cornell. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Quartet Chapbook Prize, and recipient of a California Poetry Society Award, she is the author of the chapbook Augustine’s Brain–The Remix. Her debut poetry collection, brunch, is forthcoming, as is her short-short fiction work, Hopper’s Women. She lives in New York City and East Hampton, NY, with her partner and a formidable Havanese dog.
The following is an interview with Gladys Justin Carr whose piece “La Immortelle” is featured in the 2021 issue of The Broken Plate.
What enticed you about Edward Hopper’s “Hotel Room” and how did that influence “La Immortelle”?
I have long had a passionate interest in the paintings of Edward Hopper, and currently have a work in progress titled, Hopper’s Women. These are short-short fictions inspired by a group of his paintings, of which ” Hotel Room” is one. I imagined a sea maiden who was reincarnated as an earthly ghostly beggar woman trailing algae, then transformed into a nubile young woman sitting alone, partially clothed, in a hotel room. My initial somewhat impulsive thought was to have her be a prostitute waiting for her next visitor. But I quickly realized that was a different story. So I considered the small pieces of luggage beside her and knew that she would remain alone, wandering to places unknown, a traveler through time.
What would you consider to be one of the most pivotal moments in your writing career?
I will mention just two pivotal moments in my writing career—The first, when my work appeared in the 100th literary magazine to publish me. The second was when I was a winner of the Quartet Poetry Competition, resulting in the publication of my Chapbook, Augustine’s Brain–The Remix.
With your personal experience getting published as well as your previous work as a publishing executive, what advice would you give to those hoping to break into the publishing industry?
Study those publishers, large and small, who publish authors you especially admire. And although most publishers are well diversified in their employees, avoid those who are lagging behind, as well as those who seem to have a cultural bias or a political agenda. Finally, when you are seeking your first publishing job, do it for love, not for the money. Entry level positions still pay modestly. But if you persevere, you will be rewarded as you climb the ladder.