3 Questions for Mary Alexandra Agner

1. What is you personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

I think the line lets you emphasize two different aspects of a poem. The line calls the eye’s attention to the final and first words demarcating it. The line calls the ear’s attention to units of meaning in a poem that rhymes or uses alliteration. I try to combine both of these emphases because poetry without music is to depressing to consider and because I never know whether my reader will read my poem aloud. When I write, I follow the sound in the poem, but try to pick line breaks that emphasize important words within the syntax of the poem.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

I’m very conscious of rhythm and sound while I write, and I feel those things within my body. I count out rhythm on my fingers but I also read aloud when revising; sometimes I even speak aloud as I write a first draft.

Reading/performing my work is also visceral: I sway while I read, in time to the meter of the poem, drawling and speeding up words in order to syncopate against the downbeat of the poem.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

I dislike the response I get from folks when they find out I’m a poet: “Oh! I don’t understand poetry at all!” So disheartening. No one ever says they don’t understand painting or sculpture.

I also dislike the obligation to read contemporary poetry. I think it’s best for poetry if all potential audiences (including poets) are allowed to enjoy whatever types of poetry move them.

Bio: Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her most recent book is The Scientific Method. She can be found online at

Recent poem: http://stonetelling.com/issue6-dec2011/agner-lovelacenocturnes.html

This entry was posted in Interviews and tagged by Miriam Sagan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

1 thought on “3 Questions for Mary Alexandra Agner

  1. Pingback: National Poetry Month — Second Week of Couplets | Shiteki Na Usagi

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