I recently contributed to rob maclennan’s 12 or 20 questions interview series. Here’s no.6:
6 – Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I have been specifically concerned with issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and violence. The poems in Inheritance explore the links between PTSD and the ways in which poetry resurrects human experience, particularly through the use of formal devices. Many of the formal poems in this collection are concerned with themes of obedience, rebellion and power. They weren’t written with an agenda in mind, but I feel they explore some uncomfortable issues. Whose voice speaks through me? What does it mean to occupy an archaic form? The questions make me uneasy, but are nonetheless central to my experience as my father’s daughter and as a female artist in a patriarchal culture. And it was very important for me to not shy away from the emotional intensity of the subject matter, to allow the sense of mourning and love and trauma. It strikes me that this is what a lyric poem is in the end, a love song to the culture. And I think that all our stories and myths bear the scars of trauma. In a broader sense, I’m interested in humanism. I’m skeptical about art and its purposes and aims. It strikes me that we too often celebrate self-expression and creativity over what might help to ease suffering on a larger scale. I don’t mean that art should moralize. It’s one of the most rewarding forms of enchantment. But if I was compelled to define its relevance, I would say it’s the best means by which we can both create the world and understand the world as created –by our own perceptions, values and ambivalences.