Catching Up With Kristina Hakanson

Where can we read some of your recent work?

In 2018 my poem “The $4.99 Car Wash” appeared in Broad Street.

I post poems on my blog at and have just completed a full-length collection of poems called Heaven’s Underside that I am beginning to send to publishers. 

Collaboration has kept me busy. My husband, Jonathan Brechner, and I are both poets; in 2017, we finished our first collaborative volume of poems The Ordinary Glow of Life. Every poem is truly a collaboration—we write them together by listening to what unfolds on the pages of our journals and ignoring our individual egos. Neither of us cares who wrote which line. What matters are the poems—the characters and voices we uncover by following language and its myriad meanings continually surprise us.

What are you reading right now?

After the Fact: Scripts & Postscripts by Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill has been a companion of mine for months. I open it often and read wherever my fingers land.

“I had yet to learn that a collaboration of two changes both,” goes the final line of Bell’s paragraph-in-prose titled “Happiness.” Bell collaborates with poet, translator, and diplomat Christopher Merrill in a series of back-and-forth exchanges. Only Bell and Merrill know how their collaboration changed them—but I know that their work inspires me to seek connections among image and intellect and words.

Whether I’m thinking as a poet or a writer of prose poems, Bell and Merrill’s sequential paragraphs leap and distill poetic language. Their pieces both compress and expand in a way that relies on intuitive narrative trajectories. Thus Bell’s “Time” and Merrill’s “Holding Action” indeed hold more than call and response: they traverse ideas from the Big Bang to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and in between ponder the origins of poetry and the desires of the suicidal. Entropy is mentioned, yet the paragraphs deftly sidestep chaos.

And if I’m thinking as a collaborative writer, the cycles of thought and language do more in the aggregate than whisk humane conversation, extreme listening, and the tangible evidence of human correspondence—they concatenate into their own historical record flush with trumpets, basketballs, drones, Dolly the sheep, and the relentless pulse of nations.

What’s next for you?

I have a poem forthcoming in NonBinary Review Issue #22: The Odyssey, September 2019.

In July 2019 I began working on a collection of poems organized around a theme of kitchens, the same way that groups of friends organize themselves around a kitchen table: loosely, talkatively, with baguette crumbs and wineglass rings adorning the table. 

And Jonathan Brechner and I are in process of producing a second book of collaborative poems.

Kristina Hakanson

Kristina Hakanson is a graduate of Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program. Her work has appeared in Broad Street, Cactus Heart, Canary, and Tinderbox. She lives and teaches in Arizona.