Miriam Sagan — 3 Questions interview with Lauren Camp
1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
I came to poetry from careers in magazine and technical writing and visual art, and from the hobbyist perspective of jazz. I fell in love with the poetic line, which is, in a way, a hint, a color, and a sound all mixed. I’m fascinated by its liquidity, how it can move through some, but not the entirety, of a thought. Its ability to be rich in meaning, and yet to shape-shift. That it urges (depending on the punctuation or lack of it) a journey to another part of the composition. The line is a length that can be manipulated: short, long, stressed, rushed, stretched, ended, pulled forward…Perhaps a fragment, and so then, a whimsy, even when dealing in hard views. The line: a truth. There are likely to be other sounds and truths below it, if the reader will just settle in. I delight in the fact that it doesn’t hold still. It’s a direction, a mapping—but maybe also a misdirection.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
I’m an avid reviser. There’s a deep relaxation to that process for me, because it is all about letting go. Perhaps for a while there is no body as I reorder, cut, expand, or otherwise change course. When something good happens, something satisfying with the words and their sounds, I feel a tickle in my nerve endings. I read aloud as I revise, and the sound reverberates through me, sometimes with a friction I find pleasing, other times with tenderness —the sibilants running along, radiant stresses, the pummel of hard consonants.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the effort (and alignment of planets) that it takes to get a poem to the right audience. I’m talking about the full cycle, not strictly the submission and acceptance, but the follow-up effort to make sure (or hope) people notice it. Self-promotion is a beast compared to the luminosity of poetry writing. Yet, there is much that I love in actually being a poet: the allowance to focus wherever I choose, the realization that (because of my temperament) I can be entirely sensitive to an image, find a story in a shift of light, or claim and study a certain feeling. How else might I get such a chance to just plain feel?
Here, and Here
a while, and I haven’t yet
different ways the beginning—
Life is part thus,
and part commonplace:
the rippling light
riding the edge of the porch
and so what
if the ditch ends
in rust and abrupt
obsidian? We see it all, and take
pictures of elevation,
unable to find another view. We love
the detachment, the broken
on the window.
To whom should we rejoice
(Poem from Turquoise Door, first published in Driftless Review)