1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.?
I use the poetic line as a way of forcing my reader to pause and breathe. I try to end lines where I want the reader to take a short breath to process what’s come before, and the stanza break for a longer breath and time to focus. I think smaller lines with quick pauses for breath help build a cadence, while longer lines keep the reader focused. In the first case, rhythm is created by silences, whereas in the latter, the words themselves create a sort of melodic flow. At least, that’s how I use them. Also, the end of a line is great for subterfuge. There’s no literary trickery I enjoy more than ending a line on a thought, forcing a pause, then starting the next line with a word or phrase that contradicts or changes the meaning of the previous line’s end.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
The most direct correlation is that I have felt overwhelming social anxiety, along with other lesser, more general anxieties, all my life. Whatever twisted brain chemicals cause that–the frozen sensation around new people–is the same thing that led me to writing in the first place. The panic and fear kept me from speaking and meeting people, so I needed another outlet. That was writing for me.
These days, reading my poetry aloud to an audience has the opposite effect. To share my words and hear the right responses of gasps or laughter at just the right moments, to know that what I intended was understood, allows me to burn off all that anxious energy, exhausting myself along the way. If I leave a reading completely spent, so tired I’m ready to collapse, I know I’ve connected.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
Well, I’m sure you get this answer a lot, but the pay isn’t great. Other than that, my only gripe is with editors that hold a manuscript for a ridiculously long period of time and still respond with a form letter. I’m sorry, but if you’ve had my manuscript in limbo for a year, you owe me a few genuine words, even if it’s just to say, “Jesus Christ, I’m sorry, man!”
BIO: Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, J Journal, Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, River Styx, and many other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.