What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? How do you understand it? Use it?
My poems can be prose poems, or they can be in verse with rhythm and line breaks. When I break my poem into lines it is usually because I want the reader to read it slowly and to concentrate on each line as a separate unit. When I write a poem in block text I want the reader to concentrate on the poem as a whole. Which one I use, prose poem or verse, depends on what I hear when I begin writing. I usually know by hearing where a line is going to break. I try hard not to have too many end-stopped lines in a single poem because they can shut it down rhythmically but sometimes the poem just dictates what it wants to be. I like using enjambment because each line runs over to the next and creates a forward flowing rhythm which pushes the poem along but again that type of poem will often dictate itself. I follow where a poem takes me, kind of like a worm feeling its way along in the dirt.
Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
I notice that in my writing body parts always appear. They either appear as the central focus of the poem or are mentioned in it. Bodies seem to dance through my poems, naked or clothed, bodies collide, run, faint, shake their heads. Large feet and toes do the foxtrot. Hands draw themselves. Shoulder blades sink, arms fold, and so on. Like some children I didn’t have a whole lot of control over my body, and I think using the body in my poetry is one way of taking back some of that control.
Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
There’s really nothing I dislike about being a poet. I went into it with my eyes open. I knew I was going to be both ecstatic and miserable for the rest of my life.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016
After Patrick Kavanagh
To Them he would always be brown, never golden
brown skin and eyes and teeth,
to Them he would never be summer,
his future, pore by anguished pore,
his hair, a thistle-wild grave,
to Them he was beneath soot,
less than rot,
hit for hampering the way,
a maturing shoot rising stifled
in Their spray—
Alison Carb Sussman’s poems “Acting Like a Woman” and “Reuniting With Mother at the Zoo” won the Abroad Writers’ Conference/Finishing Line Press Authors Poetry Contest. She was awarded a conference registration and stay at the Butlers Townhouse in Dublin from December 12th to 19th, 2015. Her poem “Anhedonia” was a finalist in the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry in Bellingham Review’s 2016 Literary Contests. Her chapbook, On the Edge, a semi-finalist in Finishing Line’s New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition 2012, was published by Finishing Line in May 2013. Her poems have appeared in Gargoyle, Levure litteraire, Emory University’s Lullwater Review, The New York Times, and Southword Journal. Other poems are forthcoming in Atlanta Review and Rattle. Alison was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. She lives and writes in New York City.