Shannon Watts was in college when the massacre at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX occurred. She was a young mother with small children at the time of Columbine. A slightly older mother when Virginia Tech happened. And the Gabby Giffords shooting. And Sandy Hook. And El Paso. For the L.A. Review of Books, a conversation on gun violence, “thoughts and prayers,” and Watts’s new book Fight Like a Mother, which chronicles the founding of grassroots action network Moms Demand Action. “An experience I’ve had over and over is waking up to the news of a horrific shooting tragedy in this country and then my day is done. … Similar to secondhand smoke, in this country, we have secondhand trauma from gun violence because it is so ever-present.”
“It’s really strange to have the success of a poem be so directly tied to people processing grief. It’s a strange thing, because it’s a blessing and a curse.” The Rumpus interviews poet Maggie Smith about her new collection, Good Bones, her viral poem that shares its name, and her craft. From our archives: Smith’s collection was featured in our round-up of October’s Must-Read Poetry.