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Ashleah Gonzales Is Writing It Down

The celebrity talent agent discusses her debut poetry collection, Fake Piñata.

Ashleah Gonzales Is Writing It Down

At once poignant and heartwrenching, Ashleah Gonzales’s debut poetry collection Fake Piñatacuts open and examines the pieces of a life as they fall,” and Gonzales’s curiosities circle a pressing question: What is a home? “I’ve been asking myself and other people unknowingly since I was little, and I think that was something that wanted to come out,” she explains via email. “I wouldn’t say that writing this collection has changed the way I feel about home or time at all. I think I’m still questioning, but I have more of an understanding that I am my own home regardless, my own little mobile home, this long body.”

This idea is especially pertinent to Gonzales’s globe-trotting life off the page. She’s widely known as Kendall Jenner’s agent—and go-to literary resource. Over the years, Jenner has been spotted with recommended reading from Gonzales—including titles from alt-lit darlings like Melissa Broder andChelsea Hodson (who is the founder of Rose Books, which is Gonzales’s publisher)—prompting an ever-growing conversation about the intersection of literature, style, and culture. But for Gonzales, reading offers something much more than zeitgeist or aesthetics. “To be honest with you, I have no idea what makes reading stylish,” she says. “I don’t even think of it like that. I think that reading is a wonderful way to expand your imagination and grow your world or escape if you wish to. I don’t necessarily equate it to fashion, I'd say it’s just life.”

Life continues to look busy for Gonzales as she prepares to bring Fake Piñata into the world, though there is a richness in her writing that parallels her full days—and reminds us of the power that comes with looking closely at our experiences. As Gonzales writes in “Skybrary”: “When Kiera the realtor handed off the keys to my Paris apartment, I promised myself to be careful with ‘I am’ statements. That morning at l’echiquier in the mirror bathroom, I mouthed ‘I am height’ so that I remembered that everything I think I can do, I will.”

Fake Piñata

Ashleah Gonzales

Coveteur: Give us some background on your career as an agent. What do you enjoy about your profession, and how does it inform your writing life?

Ashleah Gonzales: "I work with celebrity talent in the beauty and fashion space. I’ve been an agent for about 12 years now. I started my career in Los Angeles, then moved to New York, and now I live and work in Paris. I have the luxury of working with some of the most creative people in this field, and although the job can sometimes be demanding, it’s such a wonderful adventure that I feel lucky to be a part of. My profession unexpectedly informs my writing by way of my locations and how I’m seemingly in a constant movement forward, which allows me to reflect on the past with more ease."

What was the first book you read that made you want to write?

AG: "Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein."

Why does poetry feel like the right medium for you? What have you learned about being a poet in our modern world?

AG: "It’s not that poetry feels like the right medium but more the medium that comes naturally to me. I don’t really think about it much. My words end up breaking where they break, and that’s what it is. I’ve never taken a writing class of any sort, but I am a heavy observer. What I’ve learned about being a poet, I suppose, is that it keeps me grounded and connected to my emotions and curious about people's movements, both emotionally and physically."

Why did it feel like the right time for Fake Piñata to enter the world? How did you arrive at the collection’s central themes, and what did it teach you about your writing sensibility?

AG: "I’m not even sure I feel right now is a good time for Fake Piñata to be in the world, but here we are. The opportunity presented itself, and something about it felt like YES. I didn’t necessarily arrive at the collection's central themes per se. I think these are themes that I carried inside of myself, and the poems are a reflection of that. They all are strung together [and] it wasn’t really planned. It’s just how it went."

What muses inspire your writing process? Who or what were you thinking about when writing this collection?

AG: "I have many many writing muses, but one that’s dearest to me is Louise Glück. I wouldn't say she informed my writing process, but she definitely helped by example. As far as who or what I was thinking about when I was writing this collection, well, that’s a secret."

I was struck by the physicality in your writing. In “Primary Teeth,” you write: "I tried and tried, but I’m not truth or desire, just a cavity in the mouth you didn’t know you had," and in “Solving for X:” "hot salt saliva / tear through my youngest tongue / all of this craziness / from the same brain I read children’s books in." What interests you about this imagery? How does writing inspire you to stay more connected to your humanity?

AG: "I have a photographic memory, so imagery comes to me easily. I can visually teleport to so many different times or places in my life and feel like I’m in that room or in that particular space. But I feel like I’ve had my eyes peeled watching my entire life."

How would you describe your personal style—both sartorial and literary?

AG: "I’ve always worn and read what I liked. There’s no real formula. I have a feeling about things, and I go with them, whether it’s a sweater, a book of poetry, or a novel. I'm writing in hotel rooms and on planes a lot, something about the changing locations influences this for me. I do have a desk, but I find that I will always sit at my table and write when I’m home. And when it comes to reading, I’m Sam-I-Am; truly, I will do it anywhere!"

Ashleah’s Reading Recommendations

After finishing Fake Piñata, Gonzales recommends…

You Never Get It Back

“In the story ‘The Foothills of Tucson,’ the pain and loss felt tangible, like something I wanted to hold for her. I love the parallel lives lived between Arizona and New England. This spoke to me loudly; it felt identical to my own story.”

Cara Blue Adams


“This collection of vignettes is all over the place in topic but, at the same time, something closer to the source, maybe even the original form itself. I felt my brain could chase her observational power all day. A book made up of conversations overheard and observations.”

Renata Adler

Objects of Hunger

“Each poem feels like a world where I’m allowed to feel but not live in. These poems seemingly mirror the beauty of her inner conversations versus the struggles in the outer. I never want to stop reading this book.”

E.C Belli

The Best American Poetry 1993

“In my world, Glück can do no wrong. I found this 1993 poetry collection by chance and was blessed by so many gems from Charles Simic, Michael Palmer, Tess Gallagher, and Mary Oliver.”

Louise Glück


“Although this book is on the smaller side, it hit me with a huge depressing silhouette of the fragility of Mexican society. It becomes more visceral with every paragraph. I was bone tired by the end of it.”

Fernada Melchor

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

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