1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
The poetic line is a continuously endless place of discovery. As human beings it seems that it is so difficult for us to accept the wavering life that is always in front of us. The line helps with this as it lets me be ok with waiting, with stillness, with shouts and chaos – with the loss of control. To wander into and then around in a line of poetry is one of my greatest pleasures as an artist. I find that it is an immense arena of stillness where an energetic, creative mind can practice deeply and transform something seemingly linear into something spacious. Connecting the lines in creation of a poem is so much fun – for me it is like a puzzle – and I get to be a detective as well as a writer.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
A few years ago it felt important to me to write a definition of what I thought a poem was. This is what I came up with: A poem is a moment seized in vision, and the sensations of awareness. I like this because a poem seems to come at me through my body, through the senses — it is visual, it is aural. It may have a taste, a smell — and then somehow lands in the mind, like a magpie — begins to scrounge around and flap its hefty wings. This is the physicality of a new poem coming into being.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
The other night I was having dinner with my cousins and their kids, who are 13 and 11 and 11, at their home. I brought them a copy of my book, Her Knees Pulled In, and it was so great that they were all excited about it – even the kids – it was like turning them on to a new cool app – they all wanted to have a look, read some poems, wanted me to read some poems – everyone was engaged and curious. How refreshing it would be if this were the norm. Forget the candles and paper napkins as hostess’s gifts and bring some poetry instead. What saddens me is that this is not the norm in the United States, like in other cultures, where poetry may be what people want to talk about…. don’t turn away from, but rather dive right in and get going.
Elizabeth Jacobson is a poet and a teacher of writing. Her first book of poems, Her Knees Pulled In, is now available from Tres Chicas Books. Elizabeth has taught writing in New York City at CUNY, and in New Mexico at SFCC, Warehouse 21, and most recently as a teaching artist with ArtWorks. She is the recipient of the Jim Sagel prize for poetry. Her education includes an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and a BA in English from Rollins College. Check out her website at http://www.elizabethjacobson.net
Full blue harvest moon
the mesa in the distance looks as if it is lit up with lights
blue jackrabbits in the tall grass eating
when they should be hiding from being eaten
the rocks a wavy expanse of phosphorescence
like the curl of ocean waves under the chill aluminum sky
under water that is now air
she finds lava, mica, green stones the color of tarnished copper
all the elements have passed this space
time being kind
lifts its dress and lets her feel the tender parts
lets her see how the body yields to everything in between hot and cold
inconsistency the steady backbone of this natural place
is what balances a large rock on top of a small one
carves holes in boulders with its storming saliva and breath
she tastes the contradiction on her arm
salty sea air skin in the red dusty desert
her clothes peel off like scale
she shivers, sweats
irony offers its hand, polishes her in the tin of the moment