Boston, New York, and the Dress of Useless Treasures

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Monday night I leave for Boston. From Boston to New York. Than back to the beloved desert.

Touring with poetry is as awkward as it sounds. There is a lot of trading planes for trains, trains for buses, even the occasional hitchhiking (Yes, people still hitchhike, though I try to avoid this option.) I’ve gathered many stories along the way, some so true no one would believe them. I try to document some of these experiences so I might re-believe them when they popup as memories; I have countless photographs, sound recordings, and notebooks. I feel such analogy (for example blogging, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and the list continues) is popular because we are all trying to figure out “if THAT really did just happen.” Social Media is Descartes monologuing on “The Passions of the Soul” only done collectively in the form of selfies.

Poetry is a little different from philosophy or analogues; I’m learning it is something beyond definition. It records everything except the actual event in order to kept the event ever present. There is no need to prove something “just happened” because with poetry the moment is perpetually happening. Poetry undefines; it follows possibility and I follow after poetry.

“Interesting” places I have slept because of poetry include: numerous floors, numerous couches (couches are great), sometimes there is a guest room (thank you Portland), construction sites, a ditch (long story), graveyards (spooky), a window ledge (Seattle), a park bench (San Francisco), on top of a pic-nick table (Paddington Station). There are locations without a place to stop. I keep safe by moving. I walk all night in such places. I have landed in locations that have felt like palaces and I’ve spent the night in a door-frame. I’ve been given generous honorariums and I’ve had people hand me a dollar thinking it might help me on the streets.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like this. In fact, I love this. I’ve learned so much about people and places by searching, sharing, and risking. I’ve seen how others live–what / who they love and how they love it. Unfortunately, I’m unsure if this travel-voyeurism has helped me understand what / who to love or how to love any better; with poetry there isn’t much knowing, there is just being.

This week I will be in Boston. I will be in New York. I hope to be with you.

I made a dress just for this trip. There is (maybe too much) information about the dress in the videos below. The poetry film is by my friend Karyn Ben Singer; it is set in one of my most beloved locations in the desert, Antiques at the Barn. The interview is by my friend Edwin Vasquez. I hope to bring a little of the West to the East. Maybe bring some the East back to the West.

To sum it up, I wanted to make you something beautiful, it might be just a bunch of junk but with poetry and you it might just be beautiful.

What is The Dress of Useless Treasures: An Interview with Edwin

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Friday, July 10
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the BASH reading series at Brookline Booksmith at 7:00 pm. With Carina Finn and Gabrielle Klein. Free and open to the public.

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard Street
Brookline, Massachusetts

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Saturday, July 11
Nicelle Davis reading from and Cheryl Gross projecting short films and images from In the Circus of You at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop at 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public.

Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop
126 A Front Street
Brooklyn, New York

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Sunday, July 12
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the New York Quarterly Reading Series at 6:00 pm at the Bowery Poetry Club. Free and open to thepublic.

The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, New York

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What Is The Poetry Circus?

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The Poetry Circus

Want to know more about the Poetry Circus? Step inside my closet and I’ll tell you all about 1. what to wear 2. hair 3. rain 4. light 5. sound

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Final Call for the Poetry Piñata: If you have poems to share with children at The Poetry Circus please send them to nicellecdavis @ gmail . com

A Free Poetry Event Saturday, February 28th

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Poetry Merry-Go-Round Rides
with readings by:Lauren K. Alleyne, Laurel Ann Bogen, Chiwan Choi,

Brendan Constantine, Nicelle Davis, Kim Dower, Blas Falconer, Kate Gale, Melanie Jeffrey, Douglas Kearney, Ron Koertge,
Justin Wallace Kibbe, Suzanne Lummis, Katie Manning,

Eric Morago, Jacqueline Tchakalian, and Yvonne de la Vega.

Interactive poetry projects, activities, and crafts for the whole family brought to you by the Red Hen Press WITS program
and The Los Angeles Review.

Make your own maracas and Join The Children’s Poetry Parade ed by twirler Peggy Dobreer!

Simultaneous Poetry Writing based on your suggestions from RENT Poet and the Melrose Poetry Bureau!

Live circus acts including performances by Post Mortem Movement Theater!

At the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
4730 Crystal Springs Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-3051

Sneak Peek: In the Circus of You

We’re excited to give you a preview of the cover of the Rose Metal Press spring release, IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poems by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross. The cover features artwork by Cheryl Gross and was designed by Heather Butterfield. The book launches in March. Subscribe now to be among the first to receive a copy! Preordering will begin in February.
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Evie Shockley says of In the Circus of You:

“Nicelle Davis’ newest book mythologizes pain, makes grief, anger, disgust, and fear bearable by transforming them into finely wrought poems. These poems are filled with sharp edges, dissections, illusions, and images of flight, both in their language and in the ways they occupy the page. They are perfectly matched by the drawings of Cheryl Gross, who translates Davis’ poetry into an equally grotesque, equally eloquent visual language. In the Circus of You is a visceral spectacle of controlled excess; it dismantles the three rings we use to contain our most domestic horrors and shows us the way through vulnerability to release.”

Douglas Kearney says of In the Circus of You:

“Accompanied by Cheryl Gross’s illustrations of stretched flesh and biomechanical anatomies, In the Circus of You writhes in a fever dream of divorce, depression, and an undercurrent of poverty. Nicelle Davis directs a cast of disfigured pigs, desiccated pigeons, and circus freaks in poems whose forms are often cinched with wasp-waisted girdles or filed into jagged angles. Never simple oddities, these afflicted characters and music amount to a harrowing account of loss and how one has to fracture herself in private to appear unbroken in public. Don’t miss Davis’ acts of lurching grace and terrible beauty.”

 

Proximity

There is an undeveloped field—no tract homes but holes

for rabbits, rattlers, packrats.

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A graveyard for broken appliances and flat tires—birds build nests in these abandoned round doors.

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Out of 365 days, we know 24 days of rain—life here

requires deep and extensive roots.

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Developers wait until dark to topple and stack Joshua Trees. It isn’t impossible to wake to a whole world reduced to a small heap—morning reminds us.

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This lot has been left new because of its proximity to the prison.

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Across the road is the Institution—minimum and maximum security—male inmates.

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I feel a snake at my feet.
You ask, Is everything ok?
Is ok. I say but shake like a rattle.

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It doesn’t seem like night falling, so much as stars rising. Day and night weighed equally—the horizon vanishes and the prison lights shine like earth bound stars.

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You light a cigarette. In the dark, I can see you breathing in the distance—a walking star.

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We steal a shopping cart to gather objects left in the desert. We have one night to make an apocalyptic go-cart.

What else would we do? What’s left to do?

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We collect what has been left behind by others. I find baby shoes and bullets—a full bucket of each.

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You find a shanty town made of broken chairs and sticks.

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In the dark, we imagine the worst—bullets in a baby’s foot—buckets full.

From the back of your truck, we watch the meteorite shower.

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The sun goes up like a string-puppet. The chairs’ being is to speak—

“Air Show 2014;

we were board here.”

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At the foot of the prison, people can watch without paying, fireworks. Independence Day, shots are fired at the sky while babies lose their shoes to snake holes.

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This is not the end of the world, but its edge.

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Footnotes

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Photos by Marcelles Murdock

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Words (and footnote photos) by Nicelle Davis

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Apocalyptic Go-Cart by Kevin Swiney

Please submit to The Living Poetry Project’s RAIN

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I am in New York; I’m in love with New York.

New York has been teaching (or rather, reteaching me) about weather. It is giving me great lessons such as, it rains. Unlike California, where it only rains sunshine, New York gets wet.

I’ve been enjoying the grey sky and moving colors of the city. It is a lovely contrast; one that makes any rain (literal or figurative) endurable–even endearing.

This has me thinking about Seattle, the home of rain. AWP this year will be in Seattle. People will need coverings. Lets cover them in poems, yes? Please send me your poems and I will paint them onto umbrellas to give away at this years AWP. I’m sending out the call early this year, because I’m hopeful to bring a suitcase full of shelter to AWP.

Please send your poems to NicelleCDavis@gmail.com by February 25th, 2014. I will give your poems out here:

2014 AWP Conference & Bookfair

Washington State Convention Center &
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
February 26 – March 1, 2014

Also, if you are in New York this week, please find me at:

Red Hen Press at Cornelia St. Cafe

Thursday, Sep 19 6:00p
Cornelia Street Cafe New York, NY

Red Hen Press presents four annual reading series in New York City to parallel its own four in Los Angeles. The press hosts events at Cornelia St. Café, KGB Bar, The Players Club, Bryant Park, and Poets House, bridging the gap between the nation’s coasts. – See more at: http://redhen.org/events/rhp-in-new-york/#sthash.43BL2SdZ.dpuf

Featuring:
Laurel Ann Bogen, Nicelle Davis, Morgan Parker, and Chris Tarry.

From the End of the World to the New Year: A New Start for the Living Poetry Project

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My new poetic journey (0r obsession) is on location–locating oneself in time and place–the power of proximity and the efforts of exchange. The temporal as a gift and curse of every moment lived.

I am located in the Antelope Valley–meaning, I am situated between religious compounds, prisons, schools, aerospace, and Joshua Trees. This isn’t an easy place to live, but I love it. It is a place that reminds me of my favorite poet, Stephen Crane, who writes:

I walked in a desert

I walked in a desert.
And I cried,
“Ah, God, take me from this place!”
A voice said, “It is no desert.”
I cried, “Well, But —
The sand, the heat, the vacant horizon.”
A voice said, “It is no desert.”

The desert where I live is much like a Crane poem–a voice without answers, but a constant unraveling of complications. My favorite Crane poem reads:

In the desert

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter — bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

I carry Crane with me. Everywhere I go, his poems go with me. I sometimes wonder if this is an exchange of time and proximity–if we are all homes to the ghost and dreams of another.

Another artist who helps me understand the desert is Noah Purifoy. Noah Purifoy was introduced to me by poet Ching-In Chen. Ching-In is a great friend and gifts everyone around her with dreams. When I saw what Noah Purifoy was able to achieve with desert trash–the transformation of shadows into sculpture–I found poetry. Poetry is words transformed to images.

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I often have my students study Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Vs the Goddess. Shlain claims that alphabet literacy reshape the human brain making us all left hemisphere dominate, which he sees as being more masculine in its function. An unbalanced brain he says, is the reason for the decline of feminine power. He explains:

Extrapolating the experience of an individual to a culture, I hypothesized that when a critical mass of people within a society acquire literacy, especially alphabet literacy, left hemispheric modes of thought are reinforced at the expense of right hemispheric ones, which manifests as a decline in the status of images, women’s rights, and goddess worship. The more I turned this idea over in my mind the more correlations appeared. Like a dog worrying a bone, I found this connection compelling and could not let it go until I had superimposed it on many different historical periods and across cultural divides.

This year, I want to bridge the left and right hemispheres–I wanted to forge words and images together–to stitch the mind and body together. In 2013, I’m on a quest to investigate what I’m calling, “the people of stars and the people of the earth.” I want to know what stories the horizon has to tell about the convergence of these two groups.

To begin this journey, I asked my dear friends Jason Hughes, Laura Bautista, Larissa Nickel, and Robert Fisher to help me make a 20 foot woman out of desert trash. I stayed up for a week sculpting paper flowers out of a phone book and cut feathers out of Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Vs the Goddess. Jason, Laura, Larissa, and I, set out to erect the structure on December 21st (the end of the world) with the intent of revisiting our twenty foot woman in the new year. Jason took these amazing pictures of Laura, Larissa, and I as the 20 foot woman. Jason has a keen eye and an understanding of the high desert that I admire. He knew the abandon silo, ridden with bullet holes, would shine like stars as the sun set.

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Photo by Jason Hughes
Modeled by Laura Bautista
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Photo by Jason Hughes
Modeled by Larissa Nickel
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Photo by Jason Hughes
Modeled by Nicelle Davis
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Photo by Robert Fisher

Then we left her, in the desert, to be found by others.

I wanted to see what people would do to her. We left her in a place where she could easily be destroyed. I expected her to be used for target practice or burned to nothing. What I found both delighted and broke me.

She was left untouched. Untouched! All around her was evidence of others–a hallo of empty bullet shells, fresh graffiti, and messaged written in sand by the god kids. Most tender and shattering was an empty paint can and dirty towel. A group of huffers had gathered at her implied feet–burn their heads by breathing fumes. What did the see? Whatever they saw, she remained untouched as a holly relic. “They” who found her, are a voice without answers, a voice without answers, but a constant unraveling of complications.

You Made a Ghost of Me, so I Made a Story of You

I pattern my breathing to a bird’s wings;

I see my breath as flames upon the air;

I see flames like wings against your flesh;

I see myself as pulse-efforts turned

to snow. Without you, I let little light in,

afraid I’m made of just enough to cup in-

hand. Drink again. No more of this, again.

Instead, I tell myself, this time I’ll be drank

by slow sunset. Fly fast. Fly faster. Fast to-

ward orbs of wings and arms unraveling.

Again. I think of again. We’ll know better.

We’ll pluck feathers to strum music. We’ll

want this wanting. Like song. We’ll change

repetition to refrains—sing ourselves sane.

–Nicelle Davis

Human Collage

Where to begin?

Last weekend was nothing short of amazing. I drove to West Hollywood to meet (in person for the first time ever!) Cheryl Gross. Cheryl and I have collaborating for the past 3 years. Together we have made three books (Circe, Becoming Judas, and In the Circus of You) and two films (Circe and Becoming Judas). All of our exchanges have been through letters, emails, Podcasts, and Facebook posts. (We live in an odd place and time, no?)

Cheryl has been a guiding light and an amazing friend—yet we had never met…until now.

Cheryl, (her best friend) Louis, (my dear photographer friend) Jason Hughes, and I met in a West Hollywood. In the back parking lot we began to make some impromptu art.

Louis is covered in tattoos; these tattoos create a second skin—a tapestry of love affairs illustrated. (One of his tattoos is part of a collaboration that Cheryl and I have been working on. You can see more about this process by watching the documentary Tatt-Talk.)

Jason took pictures of this living tapestry—I took the images and projected Louis (as art) upon my skin. Then, collage artists Dawn Fox and Pavlina Janssen added paint, glue, paper, nails, and tinfoil to the human canvas. Photographers Emily Fox and Charles Hood took photos of the layering. Layers.

We brought our own stories, intended messages, and experiences to the project. For me, the project was about exploring and exhibiting basic human rights—the right to be, the right to love. (It also was a love message to a dear friend.) Art often is layered even in its intentions–isn’t that a sort of magic.

Hopefully, whoever sees what we made will bring their own visions of what it means to be human. For me, this piece is growing into a web of connections–of understandings. I attempted to write a poema about it; I’ll keep attempting to write “that” poem.

Adding to the excitement–this project continues to grow! There is a strong possibility that this piece will become a performance in the near future. 🙂 Oh, happiness lives in possibility. There are still some details to work out, but if you are interested in seeing “The Human Collage” live, please mark Tuesday, November 27th in your date books. (We might be living poems at the Beautiful Boston Court!!!)

Best to all in hope and layers.

Place—a Pastoral of Amplified Flesh

Intersections of rivers and roads—fibrous—

vein and vessels spread beneath us—

as though we’re candles passing over

or hands plunging under

the unattainability of location. There is

a story omitted from every script –

territory synonymous with unsayable

events. Let me rephrase:

I knew a woman who burned finger sized

scars in her arms with erasers—

marking how she was pinned to an orchard—

the taking of all her fruit.

I knew a man who housed a virus—science

cut doors to his spinal cord.

Hands inside another. This man, woman,

were conscious at entry.

When they said, this hurts. No one stopped

the hurting.

A light passes over—How many hands

before a stopping place?

Photo by Jason Hughes

Next layer of photos by Emily Fox.

The Living Poetry Project: Part Two

According to Editor, Jason Cook of Ampersand Books:

In The Graves We Dig, Eric Elliott tunnels through memory and experience as he reconciles past and present, blood and bone, the sensation of loss with the knowledge that what is lost will remain so forever.  Grafted into beautiful photographs of decay, death, things that once were, each poem becomes a grave, a prayer.

This is all true of The Graves We Dig; the chapbook is a gorgeous literary depiction of loss. What can’t easily be captured in a write-up about Elliott’s book is how the book captures what grows from the decay of graves. Elliott pairs the poems with images that give an urgency to the work. The conversation between words and images makes this book an experience; much like walking through a cemetery, his book gives readers the visceral reaction of seeing tombstones adored with flowers and shaded by trees. The work is in conflict over the beauty found in a grave.

To honor this collection of poems, I decided to bury them. Okay, I admit this might seem counterproductive, but not when you consider it is always our most treasured parts of life we put in the ground. From pirate’s gold to grandma, what is loved is put under protective (often secretive) wraps.

Truly, when I die, more of “me” will be found hidden in the pages of books than a grave. Recently, I brought books from my home library to share with students; the students unearthed many of my forgotten treasure—an old parking ticket, a love letter, a movie stub, even my first ultrasound photos. Books are apparently my grave.

This tendency of mine to hide in books paired with Eric Elliott’s work had me thinking about public burials—how odd that we hide things in hopes that they will be found. I suppose, we make a grave believing that what is loved will always find a way to be remembered.

An unexpected surprise is always a great prize, for this reason I made over 50 photocopies of poems from The Graves We Dig and began burying them to be found. I buried them in corporate bookstores, parking lots, used bookstores, and second-hand stores. (I hope not to go to jail for this—it is such a fine line between giving and vandalism these days. I also hope that you find The Graves We Dig—love it, remember it, and hide it to be found again and again.)

Interview with Shannon K. Winston, Author of Threads Give Way

Ocean imagery is used throughout Threads Give Way in a way that makes landscape seem like an active character in your poems. If the ocean had a voice what do you think it would tell us?

This is a compelling question and a fun one to think about! I’d like to approach it a little “sideways” if I could by saying first that landscapes, the ocean in particular, have always been a source of calm and awe for me. I’ve always needed to feel grounded and connected to my environment in really material and perceptive ways. The smell of a wood burning stove, a sunset streaking across the sky, the sound of the ocean–these are all experiences that have left me breathless. I love moments when you take a “time out” not in the cheesy “smell the roses” kind of way but more in the greater sense of re-evaluating our vulnerability, our place in the world, our relation to nature, and to others. I think our lives often deny us such opportunities. My poetry attempts to capture such moments–ones that ask us to slow down and to really think about how we would describe, respond to, and live in our world.

The wonderful thing about the ocean is that each wave resembles the previous ones and yet is new. No two waves are the same. For me, the sound of the ocean is a great constant while also promising future possibilities. So if it had a voice, it might say something along those lines and ask us to be open and accepting of new possibilities.

As a child did you ever pretend to be a mermaid? How did this experience inform your poetry?

No, I never explicitly pretended to be a mermaid but I did pretend to be a bird. I put on my roller skates with a childhood friend and went as fast as I could while flapping my arms. I’ve always been obsessed with the wind and with speed. I love the feel of the air on my skin. In fact, almost every day since I can remember I’ve gone swinging on playgrounds near my house. Starting your day with your feet off the ground is the most amazing thing; it gives me a sense of renewed energy or if I’m in a bad mood it changes that, if only slightly. The rhythm of swinging has also deeply informed the rhythm of my poetry. The back and forth of a swing is like the back and forth of waves in some ways…I’m pretty dedicated to imagining myself in “foreign” environments–to imagining I could fly, have gills, etc. So being a mermaid is part of that but so is imagining myself as a fish, a bird, a tree even. Part of this came at a time when I was young and felt extremely awkward in my body and with myself more generally. So in my poetry, the act of entering into a new environment (the sea, for example) became a way for me to navigate such feelings–a process that was/continues to be incredibly freeing.

Your collection is beautifully cohesive. How did you decide on the ordering of your poems?

The ordering process was one of the most challenging things about working on this collection. When I originally wrote many of these poems, I wasn’t necessarily working towards a larger narrative. Jeremy Shiok was key in helping me with this and together we were able to talk about what kind of story we wanted to tell. And I say “we” since this project was such an amazing collaboration. Jeremy pushed me to become a better, more nuanced writer and to consider many different aspects of the process–including how to conceive of my poems together.

A Van Jordan once said (during a reading) that depending on how you order your collection it could tell at least four different stories. Starting with “Sea Anemones, Sea Stones” and ending with “Daybreak” seemed so right to me. The collection is about a lot of things that those two poems capture: the natural world, sensuality, encounters with others, otherness, traveling, etc. They echo each other nicely. I wanted to create a sense of reverberations, and overlaps (with variations) and to instill a sense of rhythm too. We worked hard to make sure that poems fit together while also giving a sense of dynamism, change, and unfolding. Rather than grouping all the poems about my childhood together, then, we worked to think about how they could best be “scattered” throughout to give the collection a sense of openness & airiness.

You mention Kid Ory in your poem “Wallpaper.” After hearing his name, I couldn’t help but think of his music as a sort of soundtrack to your book. Your poems, like the good blues music, balances good with bad. Did you use music as a way to channel the ascetic of this collection?

Kid Ory was very much a part of this collection but for slightly different reasons than you suggest. A man named Mr. Casey was an integral part of my childhood in France. He was an Irishman and our landlord while we lived in the outskirts of Paris. He quickly became a grandfather and godfather figure for my sister and I: he taught us French, took us to the market on his errands, let us help him in his garden. He had an amazing, huge garden that was surprising since we were living in such an urban environment! He even had chickens! Anyway, we would sit outside in his garden–filled with lavender smells, ivy, etc–and tell us stories. Some beautiful, others terribly sad. Before World War II, he played in blues bars in the center of Paris. He LOVED Kid Ory and continued to play his music until he died. I continue to be fascinated by his life and stories that seemed so fruitful for poetry.  So yes, the blues/Kid Ory was a really strong aesthetic but indirectly. It was Mr. Casey’s life–defined so much by music–that inspired many of my poems.

Are you currently working on a new poetry project?

I’ve started to think about a new project and what it might look like. It’s not set in stone but I’ve been think a lot about the theme of “disasters” or “catastrophes,” which is to pertinent to our world right now. I’m fascinated (and horrified) by the way we’re surrounded by these narratives–the oil spill, war, etc– but also distanced from them too (in that we are often geographically far away). I’m less interested in writing an apocalyptic narrative than thinking about the ways we respond (or don’t)/understand (or don’t) such events. How do we make sense of such things? How do we think about them? These are some of the questions that I find really important to think about. It’s exciting to think about doing something thematically very new.  We’ll see where it takes me.

What did you learn from writing this book? How did these poems change how you approach life?

I learned the value of patience, revision, and dedication. There were many times when I thought, “why am I doing this?” but I also know that I must write. It’s a compulsion and a drive that I’ve felt for a long time. It’s sometimes very hard to write though since we’re a culture of instant gratification and “success.” Writing, for me, isn’t about that but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that. I’ve also found a wonderful writing community (communities) since writing this book–something that’s hard to find! I also learned how amazing collaboration can be! Working with Jeremy was such an invaluable, inspiring process that’s given me an amazing new energy!

You can order your own copy of Threads Give Way at Cold Press

Gifts from a Mermaid: A Reader’s Response to Shannon K. Winston’s Threads Give Way

It takes a brave dreamer to approach the ocean’s shifting currents—to draw near life and death with equal assertion as Shannon K. Winston does in her debut collection, Threads Give Way.

Winston’s lines brim with life and threaten death with the same congruent motions as the sea. She leads readers to the deepest parts of their subconscious.

In order for the to pursue her, the reader must be instruct on how to become a mer-creature. This transformation begins with wonder. Winston writes in her poem “Tidal Pools,”

She wonders, then,
if childhood fables
are true—if this
is how it would feel
to have gills on land,
if her hands, too, would
make partial spirals
in the sand.

The poems, like sirens, beckon readers to submerge into the poems dreamscape. Once immersed in the book, Winston reveals to me the greatest secrete of mer-people—“Mermaids are everywhere!” She continues in her poem “Evolutions,”

Sipping juniper tea,
she spoke of structures—
 
of the hyomandibular bone
found thousands of years ago
in fish before shrinking
 
in size. Rippling through
curtains, a breeze unfurled
her hair. Spiracles: 
 
the name of openings
allowing them to breath.
We hear with the same bone 
 
now in our middle ear. 
The hour echoed one o’clock:
a neighbor played scales,
 
an arpeggio: she imagined
his silver violin strings
shining like gills.

Her poems assure dreamers that it is the mermaid in us that makes music possible! This is pure delight for anyone who dreamed of being of the sea.

In addition to delight, Winston’s poems are full of risk. They call for a person to inhabit  uncertainty. Uncertainty, is where possibility thrives; it is the home of love and imagination.

In her poem “Petals” she sings,

for birth
 
..........for love that hovers
 
...............................above this page

In Winston’s poems, the sea acts as a second womb, maturing the persona towards life’s greatest uncertainty—death.

In her poem “Conch,” a terminal illness is turned into a seashell by simply renaming it. “What is its name?” the poem begins, “That thing you turn on…that tube with an end like a vacuum to drain/ mucus from your lungs?” The speaker is answered by a voice saying,

 
Conch, you explain,
of the genera Stombus
and Cassis, having large,
often brightly colored spiral shells
and edible flesh. 
Conch, your repeat, and I confess:
I’ve forgotten the question.
 

This collection merges life and death, as though they were the coming and going of the tide. The words, like the sea, are filled with an unsettling calmness towards the inevitability of death.

While the poems are rich with magic, they also are rooted in reality. There is always that moment in her poems when the sea goes back to being a pick-nick table and the mermaid resumes its place as a homemade paper-doll.

Winston poems warn that dreams cannot save us from the pains of death or tribulations of life, but they can comfort us with possibility. Threads Give Way is a gift from a mermaid. The poems are treasures real as a sea stone and as untenable as love.