Indiana Review poetry editor Michael Mlekoday believes poetry is “a register of our values and fears. It’s dynamic and purgative. It’s church and sex and everything in between.” If you ask him about his favorite kind of casserole, he’ll point out that “in Minnesota, we don’t say casserole, we say ‘hotdish,'” and go on to describe his favorite ‘hotdish’ in mouthwatering (?) detail: “I like tater tot hotdish—tater tots, cream of celery soup, frozen veggies, ground beef if you’re into that, and more tater tots.” When asked to predict the future of literary journals—both print and online—he says, “I think we’ll keep making and sharing poems and stories and essays until we’re all dead, one way or another.”
Continue reading to learn more about the poetry-loving, tater-tot eating man behind Indiana Review.
JL: How did you come to love poetry?
MM: Before their great friendship, the poets James Dickey and James Wright exchanged a series of relatively brutal letters attacking each other for things the other had written and published—there was name calling, squabbling, probably quatrains about each other’s moms, etc.
Had my high school English teachers taught that stuff instead of, oh, I don’t even remember, Shakespeare’s sonnets maybe, I might’ve become interested in poetry much earlier. Instead, I wanted to be a rapper. I memorized and analyzed every single line of my favorite albums—and only later realized that was poetry.
JL: What is the last piece of writing that knocked the wind out of you?