I have a new poem up today at Green Mountains Review: “Hallucination with Bees.”
Junkyard honeybees build
a hive inside any refuse
the queen is within: heart
of a tire or headlight, gutted
car door or gun rack…
A wonderful writer named Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams recently asked me to join a literary blog tour about the writing process, and I happily agreed.
Hannah received the 2013 Whiting Writers Award for her novella The Man Who Danced with Dolls and her memoir-in-progress The Following Sea. She has also received a Rona Jaffe National Literary Award and a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship. Her work has most recently appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly, and Mayday Magazine, among others. Abrams currently teaches in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
My answers to the blog tour questions are below.
What are you working on?
I’m working on what I think will be two different collections of poems—one very brash and loud and full of sex, the other a more quiet and contemplative collection, influenced by mysticism. Sex and God: my favorite subjects. I’m also trying to publish my second collection of poems, No Place, which has been a finalist in a few contests, but hasn’t yet found a home. It’s still undergoing minor revisions, but some of the poems in this collection were written simultaneous to The Rusted City, so I’ve been at it a while. Most of the poems I’ve placed in journals over the last few years (including my series of towns with strange names) are from No Place.
How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?
Answering this question seems to require a certain amount of arrogance. I haven’t read everything there is to read (yet). I used to try to write poems that would be immediately and irrefutably recognized as Good Poems. Now I’m more concerned with doing something new, challenging, or important—which makes me feel like a perpetual beginner, and thus humbles me in a productive way.
Why do you write what you do?
I choose topics based simply on what’s interesting to me—usually things that are dark and that deal with the body in some way. I primarily write poetry because it allows for a level of vocal drama and music that prose often does not. It’s probably no surprise that when I do write prose, it’s a bit purple. I want to poke at people with my writing, or even shake them a bit, and inhabiting a voice that is unstable, disturbed, or just melodramatic is the best (and most fun) way I know of doing that.
How does your writing process work?
It begins in starts and fits. I rely on sudden inspiration from images or phrases. Once I get going on a larger project, however, it consumes my attention and the inspiration develops its own self-sustaining ecosystem in my mind, so I can return to it at any time. I tend to obsess over subjects that move me, so single poems often turn into series or even book-length projects. Hence The Rusted City.
Next week, follow the blog tour to meet these three fabulous writers at their own blogs (linked below) and learn about their writing processes.
Lisa Ampleman is the author of a book of poetry, Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), and a chapbook, I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State University Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, 32 Poems, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.
Anna B. Sutton is a poet from Nashville, TN. She is on staff at John F. Blair Publisher, a co-founder of the Porch Writers’ Collective, web editor for One Pause Poetry, and on the editorial team at Gigantic Sequins and Dialogist journals. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Barrow Street, DIAGRAM, Superstition Review, Weave Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Third Coast, and other journals.
Landon Godfrey is the author of Second-Skin Rhinestone-Spangled Nude Soufflé Chiffon Gown (Cider Press Review, 2011), selected by David St. John for the Cider Press Review Book Award, and two limited-edition letterpress chapbooks, In the Stone (RAPG-funded artist’s book, 2013) and Spaceship (Somnambulist Tango Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in The Collagist, Beloit Poetry Review, Studium in Polish translation, Best New Poets 2008, Verse Daily, Broadsided, and elsewhere, and are forthcoming in Waxwing. She is co-editor of Croquet, a letterpress broadside magazine, which debuts in 2014.
A while ago, an animation student in the UK emailed me to ask if she could make a video using my work. Specifically, she was interested in “Poem in Which I Play the Runaway,” first published in The Collagist and later reprinted in Best New Poets 2013. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I said sure. Now the video is finished, and I love it! Here’s the film from Christabel Jarrold (take a look at her website). It’s entirely her own creation–I only provided the words.In Which I Play the Runaway from Christabel Jarrold on Vimeo.
I’m blogging for Best American Poetry this week!
Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of uncovering & recovering the past in Rust Belt poetry. Today, I continued my discussion of the aesthetics of ruins by looking at how post-pastoral and baroque poetics can represent our current economic and environmental crisis.
Later in the week, I’ll be talking about Plath & Sexton, and posting a few interviews with new poets I admire. Please take a look!
Julie Marie Wade calls The Rusted City “a play in poems” over at The Rumpus. Read the review here.
Some of my favorite passages:
“The reader not only experiences the events of this book in her own body; she simultaneously witnesses these events as they are performed before her by others. Hurt’s poetry pierces the reader’s skin just as the arrow of a gesture, a phrase, a natural disaster, pierces a character’s skin, a city’s soft shell. The set is mirrored, the effect prismatic. The choreography is flawless right up to the moment where subject and witness merge.”
“Now, as a reader, I do not regard Youngstown in some abstract way—say, a representative city in an economic decline. Neither do I simply imagine Youngstown. Hurt’s is a penetrating aesthetic. That is, I do not merely empathize with a city imperiled. I enter it and am immersed in it.”
“The final act of The Rusted City is a wonder of linguistic theatrics and visual parataxis. The last poems appear side by side, one called “The City Opens,” the other “The Smallest Sister is Radiant.” These poems are like actors on the stage, looking deeply into each other’s eyes, reciting their lines with conviction.”
Vouched Books reviewed The Rusted City!
Originally posted on Vouched Books:
If Michel Gondry and William Faulkner were to team up and write a book about Cleveland, you might wind up with something akin to Rochelle Hurt’s debut collection The Rusted City (White Pine Press, 2014). Hurt’s collection is about not only a city collapsing in on itself, but also a family.
Hurt’s collection is decadent in the truest sense of the word. We watch as the rusted city eats itself alive. In one poem, Hurt writes:
The City Swallows/ falling scraps like a dog at a dinner table, it’s river tongue-lapping them in from the lip of the shore. It jostles them down its throat, shaking an old tune out as the scraps rub and clash their way underground, groaning into beds of dirt. This is the din that’s rattled centuries of the city’s floorboards. But as far as the smallest sister knows, it is only the cymbal hymn the…
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