An Interview with Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, author of R O B O T

Cailin (for BPL): If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be? What would you eat?

Jennifer: It might be a poet cliché--but I would love to have dinner with Sylvia Plath. I’d eat whatever she wanted. But if she was in a mood, than I would also like to invite Amy Schumer and then we could be like “Come ON Sylvia, let’s blow this popsicle stand and hit the bar or a movie.”

BPL: What kind of bird would you want to be?  

J: Definitely a crow because I really like how they are confident problem solvers and they seem to have a sense of humor if I can write that without sounding crazy. I’m writing a lot of stuff now with crows in them and it’s interesting to see what comes up.

BPL: What is your favorite type of flower?

J: Lilacs because they remind me of my grandmother’s backyard where I climbed trees every day after school when I was little.  Or sunflowers just because they have large, bright faces but also look kind of freaky at the same time.

 BPL: Do you remember your favorite food when you were six?

 J: What was it? I liked this beef stew that my step-mother used to make. To this day I still love mushrooms and everyone around me hates them. I am a lone mushroom lover: it’s lonely.

BPL: Where do you find the most inspiration?

J: I find a lot of inspiration through different kinds of art, reading other poets, or just free associating/writing and seeing what appears on the page. Oh and other people’s conversations.  (Just the other day- I overheard this at Starbuck’s: “and then the tail grew back. I almost threw up.”)

BPL: Do you think we should be worried that robots will rise up? Think Terminator.

J: I think this is a no-brainer: definitely.

BPL: When and where can you be found writing most?

J: Usually hiding out in my basement office that I painted myself or out somewhere in nature sitting on a bench where I can people watch, or at a café if I am lucky.

BPL: One of my favorite moments in the chapbook was Robot #13. What was your favorite to write? What section do you find yourself most drawn to read again?

 One of my faves was the sex one actually (#7) because that sort of cracked me up. (And then when I posted about it on Facebook, I was like “HI DAD.”) I think sometimes when I look at the poems again- I pause with Robot #17 (the Robot Ball,) and also with # 18 (meal plan.)  With #17 it makes me think that oh, in this universe, robots and humans probably got together and planned a huge dance for the Robots to attend. Did they discuss ticket price? What did the invites look like? Did Robots understand how to rsvp? I sort of like thinking about that existing in our present day world.  And with “meal plan,” I like how it sort of hints at the idea that--even if one follows directions down to the last detail—(like with following a recipe,) it might not be enough--we need creativity, we need impulse, we need a little luck, sometimes, for our projects (or anything,) to turn out well.


You can get a copy of Jennifer's chapbook here