Thursday, February 2, 2017

Interview with Barbara Walters' Alien Stunt Double

November 1, 2008

You have just published your second book of poetry. What is it about?
El Agua Es la Sangre de la Tierra is a long poem sequence that captures the landscape of the Albuquerque, New Mexico region. The poem weaves the thin story line of a girl who was murdered at the Sandia Mountains amongst deep, lyric images of ruin, colonization, and fertility.

Did you really write the poem?

Yes, alien child, I did, although at times, it feels like a dream. Or a dream of an alien probe taken on a ship in the Ruidoso area. It was a kind of dream composition.
But craft wise, the poem is composed in lyric sequence and additionally, each poem uses the space of the page as an element of ellipsis. Poetic images are fragmentary and suspended across the page, sometimes in stanzaic form, sometimes breaking away from any form. Space allows for a sound reading of the text as well as a visual sense of the page as a canvas. The poem is meant to be visually stimulating in both language and syntax.

Why did you write the poem in this way?

I composed the poem during the time I was reading Lyn Hejinian’s Writing As an Aid to Memory and My Life. I was also reading Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons and Three Lives. I would say that these books much informed my poem in the sense of time and memory as well as the space of the page. I wanted to write a poem of experience and history, in a sense, to remember the mother land, the earth, as a site of ruin, and also of immense beauty and possibility. 

What made you start writing poetry?

Mrs. Heath in second grade encouraged me to write a poem. It was a long narrative piece about a red balloon that floated me up to the cloudy sky. Much later, in high school, poems began to come to me when I least expected them. Words floated in my brain like balloons, I would have to grab any old paper and pen available to get all those words down. I haven’t Wordsworth’s memory, but I have kept writing ever since.

Who are your influences?

I am currently reading books by Nikki Giovanni, Carolyn Forche, Pattianne Rogers, and the poems of Jean Cocteau. This is my light bedside reading, which most influences my daily morning poems. In a broad sense, however, I would include among my influences the visual artists Cy Twombly, Rothenberg, and Van Gogh who each brought mythos to the canvas in entirely different ways. They, above all, created a mood I find compelling. I include poets Emily Dickinson, HD, and Lucille Clifton to have most shaped my sense of poetry.

What is your idea of poetry?

Poetry comes from experience in the world. The poet is a creator, the agent of poeisis, and therefore, must participate in the world of nature, life, and connectivity to speak from a place of wisdom. Poetry, to me, is a distillation of that experience through a lens, a perspective, and like a prism, reflects the vision back outward to the world, a beautified, more colored vision through sound and image, which is what language can do. I like resonances within a poem, and those must move outward beyond the limits of the page to the reader’s participation.

What is a poet’s life like?

I recall how William Carlos William remembered H.D. wandering through a garden in the moonlight, her white night gown trailing loosely through the damp earth. I like to think H.D. has turned into her own muse. The life of a poet is something of a visionary—experiencing the world in a heightened way to really pull as much experience out of it as one can. Of course, I’m speaking of my own life. That life is also deeply reflective, and the poet takes much time, sometimes months and years, to condense one’s vision into language.

Where do your ideas come from?

I believe my ideas come from personal experience, that of others, observing the natural world, my children. Then there are the unexplainable ideas that come from a place I can neither identify nor define. I like to think of the imagination sometimes as a force within us that processes all of the sensory information we receive into a manageable form—we really take in so much—and at other times, I think of the imagination as an energetic cord that links the poet to all of what one knows or what is known through one’s experience with others. It is an invisible umbilical cord, and we have so many, that ties us to the people, places, we have known or have never known.

Is there a special room or area where you do your writing?

Right now, I like to write in bed when I wake up. This summer, though, I enjoyed writing in my red wingback chair on my upstairs sun porch.

Do you have any regrets?

Yes. I wish I were a tree.

No comments:

Post a Comment