Michelle Taylor: How long have you been working in publishing, and where?
Kristen Radtke: I’ve worked in publishing in bits and pieces for the past few years, at The Iowa Review during graduate school, as editor for various small publications, and as a research assistant for a few authors during college. Other than that, my experience with the publishing industry has been as a writer, primarily through literary journals, so Sarabande is my first opportunity to immerse myself in the publishing world from the other side of that curtain.
MT: What drew you to work at Sarabande?
KR: Sarabande has been my favorite publisher since I was about eighteen and became interested in contemporary literary writing, so to say that I feel lucky to work for a press that I believe in is an understatement. I love that Sarabande is willing to take chances on non-traditional work, and I think they’ve been publishing some of the most exciting voices out there over the years. I’m also incredibly proud to be working for a press that prizes the essay as an art form. That’s a rare characteristic, and I think we’re fast becoming one of the most important spaces for the essay in English.
MT: You graduated from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. How would you describe your time there? How do you feel it relates to your new job at Sarabande?
KR: My three years in Iowa were the most extraordinary and challenging I’ve ever had. I was immensely sad to leave, but it prepared me to be a better reader and sharper critic. Iowa really connected me to the literary world—so many extraordinary writers have connections to Iowa City as graduate students, professors, and visiting writers. At Sarabande I’m constantly interacting with people who passed through those walls.
MT: What’s your impression of Louisville so far?
KR: It’s very green, which I love, and extremely hot, which I don’t love quite as much, but will surely appreciate when I don’t have to shovel three feet of snow off my car anymore. I can’t believe how bad the traffic is, but I had the best grilled cheese sandwich of my life the day after I arrived, which almost makes up for it. Parts of the city feel like a mixture of Brooklyn and Santa Cruz, which came as a complete surprise to me.
MT: What’s the best metaphor you can conjure to describe the recent heat wave?
KR: A former high school student of mine once wrote this line in an essay: “It was so hot I was going to burst, like a Hot Pocket before it explodes in the microwave when you leave it in for too long.” I feel like that Hot Pocket.