1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
Lines are the limbs, the frame of the poet’s body. Without the line, there is no scaffolding, no real landscape. When I write a poem, I have little idea of the landscape at first—the words and images and content help make that clear. I love how the skeleton of lines can foster content and meaning of a poem. I tend to use lines in a fairly predictable and consistent way, but I love the way bolder poets play with lines and breath and air to give the lines more room to float and surprise. A poem can survive with joints of air and empty as in Dana Levin’s work. I just read a poem by Kaveh Akbar called ‘Ultrasound’ (c2019) where the line breaks made me breathless and intrigued–http://academyofamericanpoets.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/y/08C4635BA8F97F64/CC293A801C77B47D20B193FBA00ED1DB
I love to use enjambment in my work to create energy and momentum in a poem as in ‘How She Becomes a Fountain’:
Find in her stashes
of gold, the hymns
of whales, the
blue, as plankton surrenders
to acid and heat. Light has no
destination. Stars die
on that floor, orange
arms turned to
mash. Body walls
Once the poem is coming to light, my favorite things to do is to play with line breaks, with breath. As images and words can animate the poem, lines give it breath and space and a place to live on the page.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
Absolutely. Even the mind is somehow located in the body, I believe, so how can poetry not be connected to the body? I spent much of my life just outside my body and was connected to the soma through lying in dirt and climbing trees and rocks, as well as writing poetry. Poems connected my sensory experience which always lives in the body, to a page outside my body and was like a blood vessel or a nerve pathway for me. Now when I write I need to feel something inside my body—an emotion, a strong sense of image or place, a sense of energy or charged meaning, for the poem to be worthwhile or even possible to write. My first book Ground, Wind, This Body is basically an attempt to translate my childhood experience of embodiment and dissociation into poems. I believe we experience life through the vehicle of our body so poetry that stays close to that experience tends to be more vivid and alive for me.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
Yes. I dislike what I perceive to be the emphasis on contests and prizes and bios and publications. I understand this is how poetry is available to more people but it is painful to me, nevertheless. I try to not give too much power to what others may perceive and good or significant and instead read and hopefully write what moves me. I’m afraid I stay too hidden due to my fear and avoidance of the marketing of poetry. It is always an edge I am working with.
Tina Carlson is one of three authors of “We Are Meant To Carry Water.” This week, Miriam’s Well will be interviewing each poet and covering the book as well.
To order: https://3taospress.com/