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The Cupboard Interview Krys Malcolm Belc

Krys Malcolm Belc is the author of The Natural Mother of the Child (Counterpoint) and the flash nonfiction chapbook In Transit (The Cupboard Pamphlet). Krys is the memoir editor of Split Lip Magazine and lives in Philadelphia with his partner and their children. 


You write prose! What excites you about prose forms?

I love prose that “fights back” against the idea that the sentence is less nimble or expansive or artistic as the line in poetry. One thing I love about The Cupboard’s chapbooks specifically is their embracing of all of the things prose can do. Every time I get one of your books in the mail I am about to see a new use of the way sentences, paragraphs, sections, and stories/essays build on each other.

Who are your literary favorites? How did their writings earn your love?


Claudia Rankine’s work is really motivating to me, just the trajectory of her body of work, how intellectually rigorous yet pared down her work can be, the looks of her books and pages, all of the genres she’s writing in and between. In memoir I love writers who are fiercely, almost painfully honest and vulnerable, or at least make me feel like I have that proximity to them: Kiese Laymon, Melissa Febos, Terese Marie Mailhot, etc. But to be honest I have stacks and stacks of novels and short stories everywhere! For pleasure I read mostly fiction, maybe that’s weird. I want to be wherever the writer wants me to be.


Your own writing often focuses on what kinds of gender identities are assumed to be at play in body-based relationships—particularly those relationships that involve the work of gestation and/or lactation. Will you be reading for manuscripts that cover similar ground? Are there other issues that you would like to see addressed in contest submissions?

Gender and motherhood and etc are cool subjects but I definitely have extremely omnivorous tastes. I read widely, love rabbit holes, dig the weird, and am ready for whatever submitters have. The best part of judging a contest is not knowing what you’re going to get. What I will say is that you named my obsessions, the things I circle around. I love feeling like I really am peeking through the window into others’ obsessions.

The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood (Counterpoint Press, 2021) and other works—such as “On Baby Fever,” published in The Rumpus—involve in some way the materials of identity documentation: birth certificates, legal filings, photography, research questionnaires. What draws you to these materials? How does working with these materials inflect your sense of self as expressed in writing?


I’ve moved on a bit from the family archive but when I was in that project that was my way to play. At first I felt like my desk was split in half. On the one half was all this archival material, the legal documents and photos etc, that was inspiring the prose, and on the other half was a desktop computer with a word document and prose. But eventually I thought, what if these things joined? What if I could let the reader see my process, what was inspiring the thinking and writing? That made the writing so much fun. I find image/text work and other visual essay writing deeply fun so no matter how deep and dark I need to go with things there’s that element of play left.

What advice do you offer those who enter The Cupboard 2021 Annual Contest?


Your work is ready.


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