Miriam’s Well Blog Interview
1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.?
Dale: I most enjoy poetry that’s written to be spoken and heard, like music. So, the line lengths and line breaks serve as clues for the reader as to how the poem is “played,” like sheet music. And for me, about how I’ll read it aloud later. I may omit pauses and articles (like “and”) from the written- down poem that I say in a recitation but usually it looks the same. Some poems are written for the page rather than as a spoken work, so at-a-glance is important in the formatting. Those lines may be short and succinct or long and winding, depending on the mood of the poem and how I want it viewed. Todd Moore, an Albuquerque poet I greatly admire, sadly now passed away, wrote “poetry noir,” true crime poems about outlaws and gangsters, His distinctive writing style looked like texting, before we had cell phones and did that. Todd wrote in short, terse bursts of dialogue, maybe just two or three abbreviated words per line. The poems often continued for pages without a pause. His staccato lines served to build momentum and were mesmerizing. That takes skill.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
Dale: If you notice me tapping my fingers and silently counting, I’m writing a haiku and figuring out the syllable count. Or, looking at my wrist watch and mumbling, I’m timing a poem. Years ago, I learned to write poetry in my ear. When my husband and I lived in a rural area, I commuted an hour each way through the mountains into Albuquerque for work. Since there was no radio reception I drove in silence and the glorious scenery inspired lots of new poems. I couldn’t safely jot the words down so I’d repeat the phrases aloud over and over so I wouldn’t forget them, adding new lines as they came to me. Those poems remain fixed in my memory. I can still recite them without notes. Today, I edit my poems that way, reading them out loud to hear the sound, often replacing words to achieve better tone and resonance.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
Dale: I think of myself less as being a poet but instead as something I do, that I write poems. Fashioning an identity out of being a poet smacks of pretentiousness. I view my ability to write as a gift to be appreciated and not trivialized. Emily Dickinson’s poem comes to mind: “I’m nobody! Who are you? / Are you nobody, too?” and continues “How dreary to be somebody! /How public like a frog! / To tell your name/The livelong day/to an admiring bog!” That seems good advice on protecting one’s poetry from hype and hoopla.
That said, I more easily identify as a community poet, enjoying the company of other poetry lovers at readings, workshops, and in art & poetry collaborations. I’ve edited and published poetry anthologies, books and journals, organized Poets Picnics at the Shafer Hotel in Mountainair and in Albuquerque at the Open Space Visitor Center, and produced theatrical events celebrating National Poetry Month. My idea of a good time!
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