Welcome on board the Blog Tour. Thanks to Zara Raab, a new friend and wonderful poet from Berkeley, California, for inviting me to participate! Zara’s blog is here. You can work your way from Zara’s blog backwards to the tour segments of other writers. Or hang on for where the tour goes next . . .
And that is to the blogs of Iris Jamahl Dunkle and Molly Sutton Kiefer. Iris, too, is a Californian. And Molly lives in southeast Minnesota. You can read more about them below.
All writers on the Blog Tour answer four questions. Here’s my go at them:
What am I working on?
I’m working on admiring snirt – for those of you below the Mason-Dixon line, that means snow + dirt. It appears this time of year when the snow begins melting and leaves behind a veil of dirt on the surface. Some of this dirt, at least around here, is topsoil. So I’m really working on coming to terms with the fact that, where I live, what used to be prairie is now monoculture (beans this year corn next).
I want to love where I am, in short, but I have to work at it. So, I’m working on balancing rage that can find expression through political language with faith in beauty.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t know. What is my work? What is its genre? Easier to say what it isn’t – it isn’t formal or lyric or pomo-collage-irony. It could be translated. What I can say for certain is that what I’m working on now—a series of poems about imaginary saints—is trying its damnedest not to be like what I wrote before. And that’s scary and exciting.
Why do I write what I do?
I bought a beautiful blue notebook with pale green lined pages. I paid $8.25 for it, not including tax. I know this because a sticker on the back says it. The pages are numbered and I’m on page 63. When I reach the last page I won’t write “The End.” I’ll put this notebook up on the shelf next to the others. The only time I’ve never written “The End” was on a play I wrote in fourth grade with my friend Mark, called Skunk Cabbage Romance.
I write because it’s an obsession. I want to be like the great haiku masters and write a last poem on my death bed. Here’s the one Issa wrote (translated by Robert Hass)
A bath when you’re born,
a bath when you die,
How does your writing process work?
I open the beautiful blue notebook with pale green lined pages and, with the maroon Mont Blanc pen my husband gave me years ago, the one I dropped from the top landing of the porch on the back of our walk-up on Broadway Avenue in New Orleans right onto pavement so it cracked, I write “I open” and that’s all there is to it. With a few words I’m off. That’s page 63. Tomorrow, wherever I left off I’ll write something else, something like “in barrels” or “the oracle left in a huff.”
Next on the tour:
Iris Jamahl Dunkle‘s debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry, essays and creative non-fiction have been published widely. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference and is the managing editor for Volt.
Molly Sutton Kiefer is the author of the hybrid essay Nestuary (Richocet Editions. 2014) and the poetry chapbooks The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake (Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, 2010) and City of Bears (dancing girl press, 2013). Her work has appeared in The Collagist, Harpur Palate, Women’s Studies Quarterly, WomenArts Quarterly, Berkeley Poetry Review, you are here, Gulf Stream, Cold Mountain Review, Southampton Review, and Permafrost, among others. She is a member of the Caldera Poetry Collective, is a founding editor of Tinderbox Poetry Journal, serves as poetry editor to Midway Journal, and runs Balancing the Tide: Motherhood and the Arts / An Interview Project.