1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line?
That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
Breath, sense, visual effect, and attention to the last word all influence my lines.
Short lines make me extremely antsy and nervous, except for Neruda’s Odes which I adore.
I read them as long lines, they just look short. A high school student suggested that maybe
he made his poems long and skinny like Chile.
I like to write and to read fast, and the long line is working with me. Maybe this is a Back East
line or a Biblical line, though I am not much of a Bible reader. More likely the Whitman/Ginsberg line
and these two I read a lot more.
If I see a line much longer than others, I will tame it back in, get rid of extraneous words.
I feel as if it is a rogue line, an alert that I am being off, and wordy.
I also want the poem to look like something on the page, a vessel. Having line lengths
fairly uniform helps me edit the poem into shape, and hopefully be more selective after
the initial instinctive writing of the poem. I don’t typically count syllables (except haiku
when I am being compulsive and I really dig it). Maybe I should count.
Maybe I will.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human
body? Or between your writing and your body?
I can sit and write for long periods of time. I just got an electric typewriter back in my life and
I am so happy as it has always been my favorite way to write especially in the middle of the
night. It has a physical aspect for me, and was how I trained as a young girl on an Olivetti.
I like the sounds a typewriter makes and seeing the words in print right away.
Some days I sit and write and it seems timeless, so I guess my body and time are linked.
But there is the obvious conflict always.
If I am writing I want to take a walk. If I am swimming I want to be writing.
I am always wanting to do the opposite.
I also feel that the body holds in its memory things that are of use in my writing.
For example, I teach a lot and use many of the same poems over and over. They
then get into me and when I am writing, come through in various ways. A phrase
of Rilke or a poem by Linda Gregg have infused me. They become physical in that
I know them, I don’t own them but they own me, and they leak into my writing.
I personally sense the relation between physicality and poetic form. By reading and learning poems in a form, such as pantoum, ghazal, or haiku, I feel as if I have the templates in my body. Then, when I need to write something that emotionally or rhythmically fits those templates, I have them internalized and I’m physically prepared to write in a form.
The hearing of a phrase in my head, which is meta-physical and the recognition of the form the words want to take can come very sweetly and simply. The forms are waiting inside my body.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
Right now, you caught me in an extremely happy place. I dislike not working and that was my reality for many years. Now I have just about the perfect amount of work, but I know that will change. When it does, talk to me, and I will have plenty to kvetch about.
I do dislike the big deal about fame and being nationally known. I have made my place locally, work in my community, and feel that Santa Fe is, while not exactly my Paris, at least my Left Bank. I dislike snobbery, competition and what a friend calls the corporate model. Poems that are so abstract and so much smarter than I am make me want to weep.
I dislike people who say they don’t like and don’t get poetry. Then I have to give them my speech about not finding their poetry soul-mate, someone who speaks their language, just as in music they may hate classical and love reggae, or in painting love Van Gogh and not get Roethko. I don’t want to give my speech. Or how about on an airplane? If you say you’re a poet they look at you with such pity and ask if you have anything published.
I guess don’t get me started. But I have looked at ways to be happy within my chosen field and avoid the bitterness. Poetry has been very very good to me. Considering. Everything about poetry.
I could have done well in advertising.