Swimmers Club

Originally from Misfits Mag, 2016


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Municipal Pool

Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.


Who: Sarah Rose Etter
Where: Pennyslyvania
What: Writer

So, who are you?

Sarah Rose Etter.

Where are you from?

Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Right near the Limerick Power Plant. When I was a kid, I thought the power plants were a cloud machine. 

What time is it where you are?

It is 12:07 PM in Philadelphia, PA. I am eating a salad. We are in the Salad Times. 

What do you do? 

Write. Read. Sculpt weird roses. Ride a motorcycle. Drink wine. Run writing workshops for the homeless.

Who or what are you influenced by?

Louise Bourgeois. Marcel Duchamp. Maggie Nelson. Anne Carson. Robert Walser. The human spine. Organs. Engines. Speed. Otto Dix. 

Are you one of those people who like really loves technology? 

I am fundamentally repulsed by technology but it pays the bills. 

Do you still listen to music? If so, what's been the best stuff you've heard all year?

Grouper. Early Chelsea Wolfe. Early Beach House. Murder City Devils. Beyonce. The Kills. PJ Harvey. Nothing. T.Rex. 

Do you read? Tell us about good books you read this year? 

Anne Carson. Maggie Nelson. Lydia Davis. Molly Brodak. Shannon Burns. Jenny Erpenbeck. Mark Baumer. Ahmed Naji. Maria Flaccavento. Lewis Warsh. Sylvia Plath. CA Conrad. Mary Ruefle. Donald Barthelme. Gary Lutz. 

What are you currently working on?

My book, Tongue Party, was just released in French. That feels nice, but also strange.

I’ve been working on a book for awhile now. At first I thought it was two books, but now it is one book. I constantly feel like it should be done already, but then I also want it to be great. Padgett Powell kicked my ass about my sentences, so that’s made me blow up a lot of the work. 

A book takes time. Time is a nightmare. Isn’t it?

So do you fancy yourself as some kind of artist or what?

I try not to think about myself as one thing or another. I just try to keep making things every day. 

"Quit... quit... you should quit... you should quit... you should... you should...". Should you quit?

Quit writing? Quit my day job? There are arguments for both. 

As a woman, there’s something very beautiful and freeing about being financially independent. Maybe that’s a caveat here – as women typically earn less than a man, so it feels powerful to be able to earn and pay for myself. 

It’s very easy to paint a full-time job into a death sentence for an artist – but my job finances my art. In turn, that means I finance my art. That feels wonderful. It means I can do whatever I want. There is a huge freedom there because we’re in a capitalist society. I work hard, absolutely. And it means my art takes longer to complete, absolutely. 

But I’ve had jobs that didn’t pay enough, and that comes with a level of stress it’s hard to overstate. It destroyed my desire and time to create. I am also constantly aware that I could lose my job at any time. In a capitalist society, that means being aware that while you may be financially stable now, poverty could always be just around the corner. 

Quit writing? No. It comes in cycles. But I’ve never stopped writing. Maybe when I’m dead, someone will find it all. 

Are you just in it for the money?

I have no desire to write books that get me into magazines or on lists, really. I don’t know what type of books I’m writing right now, but I know it is not those.

Can you give us the names of two other interesting people who you think we may not have heard of but should have heard of?

Molly Brodak
Maria Flaccavento


Sarah Rose Etter is the author of Tongue Party, which was selected by Deb Olin Unferth as the winner of the 2010 Caketrain chapbook competition. Tongue Partyis available from Caketrain Press and also available in French from Editions Do.

Tongue Party is available in french from Editions Do

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, The Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Collagist, PANK Magazine, Pear Noir! and more. Her stories have also been performed in London by the Liars' League.