Fives logo – a stylised number five

with Mary Ruefle

The last thing that made you smile

The last thing that made me smile was the sound my dog made eating a cheese puff.

A secret

If I told you a secret, it wouldn’t be a secret, secrets are kept things; unkept they become something else; thus there is no such thing as “telling a secret”.

The last thing you wrote

The last thing I wrote (and by hand) was a thank-you note for a snowdrop catalogue. I wrote it this morning. The catalogue is handmade and exquisite and I plan on erasing it, but I didn’t mention that to the man I thanked for sending me the catalogue—perhaps that is a secret!

Your favourite city

In general I hate cities, whenever I am in one I am always anxious that I will never get out. Yet several cities I have visited stay in my mind for very pleasant reasons—San Francisco in the 1970s, walking through a courtyard with the smell of gardenias in the air; a fantastic antique store in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the owner didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Slovenian, yet we communicated with passion by picking up very small, odd objects, all the while expressing mutual excitement with our eyes and hands; Wellington, New Zealand, where I found the best movie theatre I have ever been to, and went there every afternoon for seven days, the length of my stay in Wellington. So you see, I do have some pleasant memories of cities, but they are all memories, I don’t live in one.

What you’d place in a time capsule

I don’t know. Journals and diaries are like “time capsules” in themselves. I like to read obscure diaries kept by farmers and housewomen in the 19th century; one has the sense not much has changed, the snow falls, a horse has to be shot, berries are picked and eaten in the summer. I don’t know. I might just bury a page upon which I have written what the weather has been like today, what I have done, what I have eaten. Nothing spectacular or literary. I wouldn’t mention that the other day I wondered what it would be like to see, set out on long tables in a field, everything you have eaten in your entire life!

Mary Ruefle is the author of My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016), Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Robert Creeley Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont.