Website | www.anthonytognazzini.com
Email | firstname.lastname@example.org
I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket for Occasions Such As These. BOA Editions, 2007.
“French Film” – StoryQuarterly, Spring 2021
“I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket For Occasions Such As These”-- New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction.
W.W. Norton and Company, 2018
“The Freelance Mariachi” – The Literary Review, Spring 2016.
“Working on the Resort” – Flashed: Sudden Stories in Prose and Comics. Pressgang, 2016
“Thugs”—Guernica, Fall, 2015
“Neighbors”—Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Summer 2015
“Falling Autobiography” – Forklift, Ohio, Fall 2013
“Have You Heard Anything?”—Guernica, Winter 2012
“Nomination”—Gigantic, Fall 2012
“The Treehouse”—TriQuarterly, Summer 2012
“Automatic Writing”—Vlak. Fall 2012
“I Want to Drive the Forklift”—Crazyhorse, Spring 2012
“Dear Kesha” – Liars’ League, Spring 2012
“Yes Way” –Forklift, Ohio, Summer 2011
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones
Anthony Tognazzini’s recent fiction has been published in Electric Literature, StoryQuarterly, Guernica, Crazyhorse, and TriQuarterly, among other journals. His work has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts and in the 2018 Norton anthology New Micro. His collection of short fiction and prose poems, I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket for Occasions Such As These, is available from BOA Editions.
His areas of teaching interest include the contemporary short story, hybrid and mixed genre work, surrealism and the absurd, Modernism and Postmodernism, short prose forms, visual art/image and text/interdisciplinary work, music history and music journalism, and art as a political act. He has collaborated with visual artists for an exhibition at the Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn, and with comic book artists in the anthology Flashed: Sudden Stories in Prose and Comics. His one-act play “Answering Machine” was adapted for the stage at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.
He’s received fellowships and grants from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches fiction and hybrid work at Kent State University and in the NEOMFA program.
Where did you grow up?
All up and down the coast of California; Subic Bay, the Philippines; Wichita Falls, Texas; Rota, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic; Bloomington, Indiana; Brooklyn, New York; Wooster, Ohio. I’m still growing up.
What is one of your favorite places in Northeast Ohio?
Hausfrau Records in Cleveland. It’s small--you can peruse all the bins in one short visit--and expertly curated. Unlike my experience in most record shops, there’s always about 20 records I want to buy on any given visit, which, sadly, I cannot afford to do. Great shop!
Your most awkward moment with a famous writer?
All my moments with famous writers have been awkward. I’d always wanted to meet Grace Paley, and had assumed, based on the tone of her fiction (which I adore) that she’d be salty and caustic, but she was totally sweet and approachable. Even so, I was starstruck, tongue-tied, and didn’t know what to say. I was getting my photo taken with Allen Ginsburg and when I squatted down to be level with him (he was seated), he turned and said to me sharply, “Stand on your own two feet.” I wrote a letter to David Foster Wallace seeking writerly advice, and got my own letter back in the mail, covered with red pen marks. For several painful seconds I thought Wallace had corrected my grammar and dissected my sentences (it turns out he’d just answered my questions between the lines and in the margins). I met Amy Hempel and had to fight off the urge to ask if she wanted to make out with me. I asked John Ashbery if he designed his poems to be aesthetically revolutionary. He was shocked. “No!” I saw Kafka in a dream and he didn’t recognize me. Once, at a writer’s residency, I read a rough draft of a story that had a poor, ill-conceived ending, only I didn’t know it. Afterwards Sam Lipsyte came up, said some nice things, and asked if I was still working on the end. Through a woeful combination of insecurity and false bravado I said I thought the ending worked. “Ah,” Lipsyte said, definitively. That’s the worst one.
What’s your cure for hiccups?
Drink a glass of water upside down. Stand, raise glass of water to face, place lips on outer rim of glass, bend at waist and lean forward pulling glass toward body-- your chin should basically be inside the mouth of the glass. When water reaches lip of glass, gulp down as much as possible, breathing simultaneously. This method has a 100% success rate. It’s guaranteed to work. I often share this method with my students, demonstrating the process with a real cup of water if there’s one on hand, a pretend one if there’s not. I want students to have at least one practical takeaway from my classes.
The best piece of advice you received as a young writer?
It wasn’t exactly advice, but in my 20s I took a workshop where I turned in a story that sparked a class debate about its narrative terms and implied expectations, about what was allowed. Some of these questions were addressed directly to the teacher. The teacher answered by saying the story was “Tognazzini-esque.” Probably an offhand comment, but it was heartening. I hadn’t mastered anything in fiction at the time (and still haven’t), but I was encouraged to remember that writers create their own terms in their work, that we invent and sustain our own singular system of rules. Our task then is to invite readers into that system.
What was the best reading you’ve ever been to? Why?
I’ve been to lots of amazing readings, but for some reason the one that comes to mind was by the poet John Yau. It was in a small bar in Manhattan, and Yau only read work, written across his entire career, that never made it into his books, that was never published, that he’d found in the bottom drawers of his desk, etc. He read in a low-key, almost dispassionate way, but every piece was electrifying, hilarious, head-spinning, moving. Also, Yau was wearing a T-shirt with a graphic of toast shooting out of a toaster. I coveted that shirt heavily.
What the highest number of revisions you’ve done on a single piece of your writing?
I can’t count that high.
What’s your secret talent?
It’s secret even to me.
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