provocative profiles: episode two, krystal languell


krystal languell is treasurer and member of the board of directors for the Belladonna* Collaborative. she also edits the feminist journal Bone Bouquet and teaches writing in nyc. her first book, Call the Catastrophists, is now available from BlazeVox Books. says ander monson, “fiery and fine, krystal languell’s Call the Catastrophists is a ‘whoomp! (there it is)’ of a first collection.”

krystal is also a genuinely helpful woman. she once spent hours of a beautiful sunday morning helping me open hundreds of boxes of lit mags in an old, un-air-conditioned nyc bookstore, in the middle of july. she earned my eternal gratitude that day!

on december 14 from 8:00pm to midnight at 925 bergen street, suite 405, krystal is helping to throw a huge fund-rager for Belladonna*—music by poet dj’s, such as marcella durand, dan magers, and latasha diggs? palm readings by melissa buzzeo? on-site hypnotherapist kristin prevallet? a chance to party in the Belladonna* studio? AND free booze? all for a $20 donation to an awesome organization? I’M IN!


today, krystal took a few questions for ‘the nook,’ and her answers will give you abundant evidence of her thoughtfulness and commitment:

nook: both Belladonna* and Bone Bouquet are very invested in promoting women writers. can you talk a bit about why this is such an essential mission?

krystal: the cause of promoting women writers is important because women are important. my feminism (not speaking for Belladonna* here) is a selfish thing. i want my work to be read and i know it’s less likely to be published, read or reviewed than if i were a man. puzzlingly, despite the work of VIDA and amy king’s The Count, there are still people who don’t believe this fact.

fine. one way i could respond to this situation would be by acting as a ruthless advocate for myself and my work, clawing my way into the boys’ club. that works for some people. instead, i’ve chosen to join the Belladonna* Collaborative and create Bone Bouquet. community is much more interesting to me than competition. also, i hate losing. i learn much more by cooperating, though it is difficult, and by working to promote the work of other women, i understand my place in the community more clearly.

Belladonna* is a non-profit and a small press, but is also many other things. we are a community. we ask each other for help, support each other, raise money to publish books and pay readers when we can, but also we’ll rally around a female poet in financial or medical trouble as best we can, host public dinners, and throw a great party, once in a while. all of which is to say that there is more work on our plate than publishing and promoting great books of poetry—it’s just one part of what we do, and that is why this group is important to me. we’re not a small business. we’re not a press. we’re a group of women doing the work that feels most urgent in the poetry community, and that shifts over time.

nook: Bone Bouquet is fairly young… what surprised you during the process of launching the magazine?

krystal: the first surprise about Bone Bouquet was that i couldn’t actually do it alone. the second surprise was that i, like many editors i’d been frustrated with as a graduate student, couldn’t get my magazine out on time either. so the most important lessons have been about flexibility and patience, which anyone who knows me will tell you are qualities i am still working on…

more recently, i’ve been pleasantly surprised about the support the magazine has received. i launched with a ’30 subscribers in 30 days’ campaign on facebook and sent a few emails and BAM–it happened. thirty people bought subscriptions, and i got to pay my web designer (hr hegnauer)!

nook: who are some of the most interesting, important women writers that we haven’t heard enough about?

krystal: the members of the Belladonna* Collaborative, of course: rachel levitsky, marcella durand, kristin prevallet, barbara henning, caroline crumpacker, cara benson, hr hegnauer, emily skillings, lila zemborain; former member martine bellen; member in memorium akilah oliver.

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