Interview With Rossetti Broadside Prize Winner, Mag Gabbert

Interview conducted by American Literary Review Editors

Mag Gabbert is a poet who teaches creative writing at Southern Methodist University. She won American Literary Review’s inaugural Rossetti Broadside Prize for her poem, “America.” We asked Mag a few questions about her process writing “America.”

Click here to see the broadside and poem.

American Literary Review: Tell us about the process of writing “America” or what served as your inspiration?

Mag Gabbert: So, I first started thinking about parts of this poem as I was watching Ken Burns’s documentary series on the Roosevelts. I was attracted to Teddy’s, um, ruggedness?—how he was shot in the chest just prior to giving a speech but refused to postpone it, how he’d once insulted another New York assemblyman by saying he had “the spine of a chocolate eclair,” how he used to enjoy boxing in the White House until an injury left him blind in one eye (at which point he switched to martial arts), or how he’d burned his official presidential portrait because he didn’t like it, just to name a few examples. There are really too many made-for-TV facts to go into. But then I thought about my initial impulse of finding those qualities attractive, and about how that maybe speaks to