Interview by Penelope Jeanne Brannen on daughterrarium
Interviewed by Penelope Jeanne Brannen, poet in the NEOMFA at Cleveland State University, you can read the full exchange here.
The discrete poems in your book are interrupted by pages of short, italicized lines without titles. How did you arrive at this structure?
I admire poems that seemingly get to the heart of the matter and then buckle your knees with a deeper story told as if in an aside. One of my colleagues in grad school, Catee Baugh, did this beautifully. Sarah Vap is a goddess of this work. I’m reading Samantha Hunt’s The Sea currently and I find this magic in every scene. In writing the Firelight Mediations, I looked toward form as a way to say what I was struggling to write. What I needed for myself at that time was a pep talk. And I needed a pep talk that wasn’t dismissive of the anger I was conjuring. I appreciate your naming the poems discrete, because I feel that too. Writing them was uncomfortable for me, both in the way I was looking at myself and in metaphor. I was listening daily to the old lectures of Ram Dass while working at the front desk of a venture capital firm (I know…talk about community feminist work and writing…but hey, I finished my manuscript thanks to that job) and was hearing repeated messages on the art of returning. That our work is in the practice of remembering and witnessing our coming into being at every opportunity. So what I wrote was my work of remembering. And saying it plainly, buffered by space, and in short bursts was as much bravery as I could muster.