Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexis Rhone Fancher.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve always been an artist. I learned to read at age three. Wrote my first poem at age five. My childhood was a flurry of voice lessons, acting lessons, ballet classes, piano, accordion, violin. Guitar the instrument that stuck. With my waist-length hair, I was a Cher wannabe, a knock-off Joni Mitchell. A female Rebel Without A Cause. People said I sang like an angel.
I was 10 when a family vacation found us in San Francisco. My dad gave me 12 rolls of film and an Instamatic camera and told me to “have fun.” I shot everything: Coit Tower, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf. The bums in the Mission District. The flower sellers along Maiden Lane. I photographed my family and interesting strangers. When we returned home, and the film was developed, my father proclaimed me a “genius photographer” and bought his nascent Annie Leibovitz a Nikon.
Fast-forward to a degree in Theatre (emphasis in acting) from UCSB. Then I enjoyed a 2-year sojourn, traveling throughout Europe with my sister, putting off our impending adulthood. I took a 20 years detour as an advertising executive (a girl’s gotta make a living.) 2 bad marriages. 1 child. Made a sharp left, soon after my third wedding (the one that took), and arrived at a resurrection of my inner artist, fully-formed, with a torrid past, bursting with stories to tell/visions to realize. For five years, I studied writing with LA legend Jack Grapes. Since late 2012 I’ve been published over 200 times in literary journals, anthologies and magazines, everywhere from Gutter Eloquence and Rats Ass Review to Best American Poetry and The New York Times. My 6th collection, EROTIC: New & Selected, just dropped March 1st from New York Quarterly. A 7th collection, Stiletto Killer, will be published in 2022, in Italian, by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia. I never stopped taking photos; I opened my own photography studio in 2012. My photos are published worldwide, including the covers of Witness, Pithead Chapel, and The Pedestal Magazine and a 5-page spread in River Styx.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Although I write in many genres, I’m most know for no holes barred (sic) erotica. When I began submitting poems for publication in late 2012, I often got the response/acceptance: “I hate pornography, but I love your poems!’ Look, there’s a profound difference between erotica and porn. Porn is straight f***ing, while erotica weaves a story around the act, draws the reader in. I’ve made it my mission in life to teach the difference via my work. So, although I’ve experienced much success, it is often hard won: I’m changing minds as to what is acceptable in literary journals as well as at poetry readings. Often after a reading people will come up to have a book signed or just to chat. Almost always, they share a private word, relive the moment they first became sexually aware/fell in love with Mr or Ms. Wrong. I often get fan letters, poets sharing their innermost fantasies, poems they could never show their spouse. 99% of the time, the letters and in-person sharing is respectful of my marriage and my life. The way I see it, we all need to be heard. I think of myself as a “safe harbor” for writers who, for whatever reason, are less bold. They think I understand. And I do.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
These days my work falls into five categories:
1). Erotica: I have a new, full-length book coming out in early 2022 from NY Quarterly Press. Working with publisher Raymond Hammond on the just-published collection, EROTIC: New & Selected was an author’s dream, so we’re doing it again next year with BRAZEN. Stay tuned.
2). Elegies and odes to the dead: My chapbooks, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (KYSO Flash Press, 2015) and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), both are about the untimely passing of children and young adults, taken too soon by illness, mass shootings, car crashes and suicide. I often write about my only child, Joshua, who died of a rare cancer at the age of 26. Although he has been dead for almost 14 years, Joshua still populates my dreams and inspires my work.
3). Photography: At present, I am working with Eric Morago, publisher of Moon Tide Press, on a photo book of over 100 Southern California poets whom I have shot over the past nine years. Look for it to drop in 2023. And I’ve never stopped taking street photos. Many have found homes on the covers of over a dozen poetry and prose books and literary magazines, in an ongoing feature in Cultural Daily – “The Poet’s Eye” – as well as being a constant feature in each of my published books for which I designed the covers. Could I be called a “control freak” when it comes to my work? Perhaps. Check them out.
4). Editing: I work as an editor for many fine writers, helping to ready their work for submission. I get great pleasure from working with poets and novelists to bring their work from first draft to finished book. I’m a partner (with Ariana Trinneer) at the submission service SUBMATCENTRAL, which submits work to lit mags and journals for poets who are too busy or too timid to submit their own work. Helping other writers achieve literary success is one way to give back to the literary community.
5). Poetry Editor, Cultural Daily: Since October of 2012 I have had the distinct pleasure of being Cultural Daily’s poetry editor, a position that has afforded me the opportunity to feature established and up and coming poets. Along with my remarkable right-hand woman, Mish Murphy, Cultural Daily’s Associate Poetry Editor, we feature 50 poets a year, often running a book review with the feature, when applicable. We also curate the yearly Jack Grapes Poetry Prize contest, with publication and cash prizes for the winners and finalists. The next contest begins on July 1st, 2022 and closes on August 31st, 2022. Check culturaldaily.com for submission details.
What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Creatively, I think of myself as an industry of one. A poet who takes photographs/ a photographer who illustrates with words. I see more hybrid work getting published in the future, graphic illustrations, ekphrastic poems, collaborations between poets, birthing new art forms. In fact, I’ve just finished a marvelous collaboration with Virginia poet Cynthia Atkins. We’ve each written ten poems, each to one of my photos, resulting in a quirky chapbook, DUETS, to be published in 2022 by Harbor Editions. And my novella-in-flash, My Criminal Boyfriend, illustrated with my photos, nears completion. I’ve also reopened my photography studio in San Pedro for portrait work. I closed it down for all of 2020 due to the pandemic. If you’re interested in having your picture taken, contact me at: email@example.com.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.alexisrhonefancher.com
- Instagram: hotnovelist
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexis.fancher/
All photos (& self-portraits) by Alexis Rhone Fancher except photo of author in bookshop, by James Fancher.