A hearty welcome to poet and UWEC student Alex Zitzner, who will serve as Cirenaica's Assistant Arts Administrator this summer. Get to know him by reading a brief interview below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am currently going into my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where I have been studying/doing creative writing the whole time. In addition, I am the Editor-In-Chief for their fine arts magazine, NOTA, an English Ambassador, and an intern for the Barstow & Grand literary journal.
Do you have a favorite book, poem, or author?
I am primarily a poet, so most of my taste revolves around poetry, but my favorite novel is either Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, or Albert Camus’ The Stranger. The kinds of stories I enjoy have a lot of philosophical backing to them, and these two books are chock full of ideas on existentialism and modernism.
As far as poems, I think I have read too many to pick a favorite, but I will get two birds with one stone and just list a few of my favorite poets. These days I have been enjoying Kaveh Akbar, Ocean Vuong, CAConrad, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Tyehimba Jess, and Tommy Pico’s work a lot. My longstanding favorites are the New York School of poets though, mainly being Frank O’Hara and Ted Berrigan. And Rimbaud. Can’t forget about Rimbaud.
What is the best writing advice you have gotten so far?
I’ve been extremely lucky to meet Karla Huston and Max Garland at different points in my life and both gave me the same advice: “Keep writing.” As simple as it may sound, these are the words I live by. I think this is the secret to it all too, but don’t tell anyone I told you.
Are you looking forward to anything in particular at the Cirenaica retreats?
I really am looking forward to meeting so many people who are passionate about their writing. We have something special here in the Valley when it comes to literature. To be a writer here or even be a writer visiting here, there is an energy that is inescapable because there is always something going on because people are passionate about sharing their work. So, to spend a few days around people who really care about their craft is going to be amazing, I get stoked to see people work so hard on something. It’s awesome. I’ve also heard the food is pretty good, so that will be a treat.
Any final thoughts?
I would just like to give a big thank you to Geoff Carter, who has helped me figure this new role out, as well as the UWEC Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for allowing me to take on this role. Without the help of these two, I would not be able to do what I am looking forward so much to do, and I am very grateful. With all that being said, I am excited to help make these residencies as helpful, fun, and impactful as they can be. See you all this summer!