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Sad Ass Songs: Alexis Pope

Sad Ass Songs: Alexis Pope

Sad Ass Songs is a weekly column where I ask some of my favorite writers to tell me about their favorite sad songs. They send me songs and then I send them questions and post their answers here and then we all cry a little bit.

This week’s interview is with Alexis Pope, the author of Soft Threat (Coconut, 2014). I asked Alexis these questions because she’s the most exciting poet alive right now, and also because she’s always crying.

The Song: “Teach Me” by Keaton Henson

Mark Cugini: Why this sad ass song?

Alexis Pope: I guess because I only listen to sad songs (not true, kind of true) & was trying to think of one other people might not pick. But really I was listening to this on repeat in November until I realized that wasn’t helping anything.

MC: What’s your favorite line in this sad ass song? Why?

AP: “But dammit don’t expect me to change.” The whole song is like asking how to be the person someone wants you to be & then it’s like ‘yeah, but I can’t.’ #relationships

MC: It’s really interesting (and really not surprising) that you’d pick a song where the singer seems self-conscious about who they are—is this a common theme in your work? Like, is writing an act of self-discovery for you? Or maybe even an act of penance?

AP: Hmmm, ugh you know me pretty well. Recently my writing has shifted to self-examination, writing directly on subjects that interest me (the daily, domesticity, et al), so I guess it has really turned into an act of self-discovery. I think I wouldn’t say penance even though it could totally be called that. I’d rather say it’s an act of unapology, the poem as a place where I exist freely & without bullshit.

MC: How does music (or sound) fit it’s way into your writing process?

AP: It’s so vital. I’m always listening to music when I work. The album/type of music is constantly changing depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes I find something (song, band, album, playlist) works so well that I can only listen to that every time I write. Then one day it just stops being the right thing. Currently this Wu-Tang instrumental album is my work background. Although I did write a poem today using Timber Timbre.

MC: When was the last time you cried? What were you crying about?

AP: Three days ago.I was crying about personal issues I probably shouldn’t discuss on the internet, so I’m gonna say “I hurt my toe.”

Check out all of our previous Sad Ass Songs interviews at the archive:

Listen to the whole playlist right here:

Mark Cugini
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About The Author

Mark Cugini

Mark Cugini is managing editor of Big Lucks, a strategist for Real Pants, and the author of I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE (Ink Press, 2014). Find him at

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