Five Questions with Matthew Rohrer

Matthew Rohrer is the author of Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015), Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011), A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007) and A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004), which was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Satellite (Verse Press, 2001), and co-author, with Joshua Beckman, of Nice Hat. Thanks. (Verse Press, 2002), and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Next Big Thing. His first book, A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Oliver in 1994. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at NYU.


1. What's your favorite word (in writing or in life)?

I like "little." It's somehow much better than "small."

2. What's the worst job you've ever had?

I fed animals and cleaned their cages at a medical research lab, and had to take all the snakes out of their cages and put them in burlap sacks in order to change the bedding. The sacks would be filled with snakes and slowly moving across the floor. The temperature in the room had to be pretty high and it was humid. Also there was the underlying sense that I was involved, working for this lab, even in the lowest way, with Evil.

3. Do you believe in astrology at all, and if so is your sign accurate?

No. I really want to stress to your readers that it simply doesn't make any sense. 

4. Did you overhear anything interesting today?

Today I have been indoors all day but I heard a blue jay  they're so loud. They seem like jerks, but they can't all be, I guess.

5. Favorite haiku?

It's by Issa:


"Insects on a bough

floating downriver

still singing"


Depending on your mood this is either the 2nd-saddest poem ever (after OLD MAN TRAVELING by Wordsworth) or it is a  triumph of the spirit.