What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
Aside from childhood efforts, I began writing poetry in my early 30s, without any academic training. I was an obsessive lap swimmer, and my line length tended to be similar in length, read aloud as my natural breath. I soon became aware of the use of lines to emphasize specific words and images. Later, my line breaks began to signal both punctuation and continuation. My writing is innately rhythmic, likely influenced by performing my poetry with a band of musicians, artist, and performance poets from the West Texas/Northern Chihuahua/Southern New Mexico border region.
Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
The connection between my body and my poetry is multilayered. I tend to write in an uncalculated fugue, implicating my hand and arm most in an almost automatic writing, but while “hearing” my own voice, which consequently involves an instinctive understanding of my breath and lung capacity. There is also a strong correlation between my process of writing and the chakras. When I am silenced by circumstance or emotion, I feel the unarticulated words like clots of static energy in my chest and throat. Often my poetry arises from my root chakra and ultimately releases through my crown in an almost ecstatic rush, even when the subject matter is not particularly happy or positive.
Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
As I write these responses, I am currently in the final throes of releasing my book from Chimbarazu Press, and am all too intimately involved in its promotion and distribution, particularly as my publisher just recently had surgery and can’t be as active as he might like. I am the antithesis of business-oriented. Nonetheless, I very much want my publisher to recoup his investment, which is not always a given for small, independent presses, particularly those publishing poetry, and so I am committed to do my part to facilitate that likelihood.
Her blood, a faded ribbon
A star plummets from a blood ribbon.
Its mate follows.
They quiver above a flesh canvas.
The blood dries.
The sky’s scab crumbles.
The stars, once brilliant, now dead, their light
nothing but flickering memory. Flesh
nothing but a picture, rotting.
The bones of the Moon become earth,
her crown, sunlight, hovers above.
Her blood, a faded ribbon
covered with dust.
As a writer and cultural organizer, I put to use the lessons of writing practice and reading aloud learned from my early mentors who led groups in Santa Fe–you, Miriam, along with Joan Logghe, Judyth Hill, Natalie Goldberg, and Ana Castillo. In 1995, with funding secured by Judyth Hill, I founded the Tumblewords Project. Committed to the notion that to give voice is an inherently political act, I have continued to offer free weekly writing workshops, as well as performance events and publication opportunities. The Project has flourished, with presenters from throughout the United States and Mexico, as well Chile, Peru, Cuba, Hungary, and Jamaica.
Around 1988, Joan Logghe changed my life with the gift of a bilingual book of poems by Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo. From that moment, I became heavily influenced by writers from South and Central America and immigrants from those regions. I have also been particularly impacted by Chicana/o poets and activists.
In terms of publications, I am the author of Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal, released by Chimbarazu Press in September 2014. In 2010, Virgo Gray Press published my chapbook, I Am South, and will reissue it in late 2014. NeoPoiesis Press will publish my collection, Three Sides of the Same Moon, in 2015. My work has been published over 100 times in journals, anthologies, and ‘zines. Currently, my poetry or book reviews appear often in VEXT Magazine and Red Fez, and I am a contributing poetry editor for Return to Mago.
Originally from Shamrock, a small town in the North Texas Panhandle, I have lived in El Paso for over 20 years, moving here from New Mexico, where I lived in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and in Navajo country. I worked as an activist attorney for over thirty years, advocating on behalf of indigenous people, immigrant workers, and people with disabilities.
A bit about Donna’s brand new book. She says interested buyers should write her at firstname.lastname@example.org with their mailing information. They will need to deposit money in her PayPal account, associated with the email email@example.com.
The stunning cover art is from the painting Angel in Decline, by Victor Hernández.