…I realize that even children are mortal, and by the time they’re in school, they’re wondering about death. And that’s when we start telling them fairy tales…”
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
As I get older, I become more and more aware of my body, and mortality and spirituality (I don’t mean “religion”). And with that, in these poems I realize that even children are mortal, and by the time they’re in school, they’re wondering about death. And that’s when we start telling them fairy tales (religious or otherwise). But we all, ultimately ask, Why? The other thing I’m concerned with (also often in the same poem) is our relationship to the physical world, and time, and how they play into our lives.
What are you working on now?
I’m not working on any particular project now, except to become a better writer, and broaden my outlook. As I say that, though, I also have to say I have a little germ in the back of my head, because since my last book, I’ve been finding, feeling that these new poems are related in some way. So I’ll just say that the germ in my head also has a working title: TIMES THAT BIND, TIES THAT REND. But it’ll be a while before anything comes of that because I’m also just concentrating on learning more things. In any case, book or no book, I’m having a good time.
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
I have to expand this to two, one a short novel, the other a collection of poems. First, the novel: A LESSON BEFORE DYING, by Ernest J. Gaines. It’s a powerful, angry and compassionate book about race, (in)justice, relationships between others, and with ourselves. It just blew me away. And the writing is beautiful. The other book is a collection of poems that won the 2014 Walt Whitman Award: THE SAME-DIFFERENT, by Hannah Sanghee Park. Talk about playing with language in all kinds of ways that I’ve never seen before. It’s absolutely fascinating. I keep it next to me, dipping into it again and again. Find a copy, read it, and be prepared to fall over with the power and depth and tragedy and playing that this book provides.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
Flannery O’Connor. A short fiction writer and novelist, her language, imagery and spirit have, in their own way, shaped me. Although her work is fiction, she still deals, with power and twisted wit (I don’t seem to have that in my work), many of the issues that drive me.