3 Questions for Stacy Gnall

1.  What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
 
I think of the poetic line as a branch of meaning split by space. At its best, it’s arranged in such a way that if a reader stays with the line itself awhile, they’ll derive pleasure from it on its own. But then an extra element of pleasure is somehow added by the break that follows the line—suspense, a severing, a respite. Where I choose to break a line almost always has to do with rhythm/sound. How do I want to ask the reader to breathe with me? 
 
 
 
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
 
Absolutely. And I think it goes back to breath. The sparks for my poems I feel closest to typically come from something that changes my breath in some way—makes me breathe harder or faster, takes my breath away. When I write, I’m also informed very much by rhythm/sound, so I make decisions based on my ear/from a body level. It’s my hope that readers will feel at least some hint of music when they read my poems. It’s my dream that they will experience something “in-time” with me, will experience viscerally.
 
 
 
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
 
I think the toughest thing about being a poet is the (mostly self-imposed) pressure to constantly produce, and to make each new poem your “best” poem. Other than that, I sometimes just dislike telling people that I’m a poet. People’s views of who/what a poet is can be pretty cartoon-ish.

Shadow Play
 
 
Your hands
held
to the tune
of an elk’s
head
and me, curled
like a bass clef
in bed:
we fill
in the blanks
of night.
Days
come together
like braids.
Hocks ache
in growth.
The pelvis’
punctual spate.
And ease
is a shadow.
And shadow is
reflection’s
father.
An antler
at water.
Already I’m
an animal
you don’t
understand.

Stacy Gnall is from Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA at the University of Alabama, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. Her first collection of poetry, “Heart First into the Forest,” was recently published by Alice James Books. She lives in Los Angeles.