An excerpt from our newly published interview with Alison Palmer.
“I want the reader to feel empathy towards the hunter and the hunted. I am an extremely hopeless and a very curious romantic, and I enjoy learning the psychology behind why we put ourselves through the rigors of dating, desire, marriage, monogamy, divorce. I’ve come to the conclusion that we are both utterly defenseless and relentlessly ruthless toward one another (and nature), ideas that drive the collection as a whole.”
Alison Palmer is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). She earned an MFA in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College, where she was the recipient of the Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Prize. The Poet’s Billow chose Alison for their 2015 Atlantis Poetry Prize, and in 2017 she was a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominee. Her poems have appeared in FIELD, The Los Angeles Review, River Styx, Bear Review, Glass, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Alison currently lives and writes just outside Washington, D.C.
L.I. Henley is the winner of the 2016 Pangaea Prize. She is the author of Starshine Road which won the 2017 Perugia Press Prize. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Desert with a Cabin View, and The Finding (Orange Monkey Publishing).
Go to our website for the entire interview.
Here is an excerpt:
I think I just realized that with poetry I had to be willing to explore my own distances, get out of a comfort zone that was only “comfortable” because I told myself it was. I had to be able to open the doors that I was once content to leave locked forever. I had to be devoted to the pursuit rather than to the “right ending.” The poet, upon opening one door and seeing there are infinite doors ahead, says, “Yes! This is exactly what I want to do with my time—open doors that lead to more doors.”
Lucian is the winner of 2014 Atlantis Award and the 2014 Bermuda Triangle Prize. He is the author of Peregrine Nation (The Broadkill River Press, 2014) which won the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. His second collection “Reaper’s Milonga” is forthcoming from YesYes Books in the fall of 2017.
Go to our website for the entire interview.
Here is an excerpt:
So one function of writing is that it can be a way of creating homes out of memory and experience. Part of it comes from the inherent solitude that comes with such movement. You aren’t tied to any one place and people come and go in your life. You do your best to stay in touch with as many of those people as possible, but for the most part, you are operating on your own and adapting as you move forward. Writing is a way of recording growth and human experience in a meaningful way. It also helps to have a constantly changing foreground and background when composing. It enriches the experience of writing and the writing itself.
We are really excited to bring you an interview with Brittany Cagle, the winner of the 2014 Pangaea Prize with a series of poems titled My Family Sleeps in New Beds. This interview addresses how to navigate personal tragedy within the tragedies of others and how to translate the experience of people close to you while not exploiting them. We also discuss some formal elements of Cagle’s poetry and her amazing art.
“In the case of [writing on] tragedy, we completely expose the people we know and often have to negotiate between our desire to be truthful and our fears of exploiting someone. We have the ability—even more so as writers—to hurt each other in perseverant and permanent ways, especially once our words are printed and public…. But often I think— don’t I somewhat own the things that happened to me in my own life? Aren’t these, too, stories for me to tell? This is where lines can become blurred and downright confusing. This became a source of personal frustration—how I could approach writing on others.” Read the entire interview here.
The Poet’s Billow has a new Special Features page, and we are so proud to be highlighting Alex Stinton the recipient of the 2014 Sophie Kerr Award, the nation’s largest undergraduate literary award.
Alexander Stinton: I think it was Joyce who remarked how Columbus made his name by being the last person to discover America. Something similar might be said of my undergraduate work. And work it was: those poems took a good deal of shaping and swearing and sleepless nights. I wanted to sound mature, I suppose, and––as an infant does with the voices of those around her––I absorbed and imitated as best I could the poets I was reading. Read more of this interview.
On the night God’s seed lay fresh
in the somewhat swanlike
egg beneath Mary’s navel,
who was it
rustling for a bite to eat,
unleavened bread, some dates?
Whose hand went unmoved but
hopeful on the belly
as the other tapped the keys
of his cell phone:
“You’ll never believe. . . .” Continue Reading
Mike Dockins interviews 2013 Atlantis Award winner Lisa Summe. This is a great interview that addresses style, publishing, and what fuels poetry just to name a few. Here is an excerpt from the Lisa Summe interview on writing and technology:“It feels necessary to discuss what a poem is and what sets it apart from technology and social media, but instead I’ll be lazy and quote A.R. Ammons: “I can’t tell you where a poem comes from, what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man. The reason I can’t tell you is that the purpose of a poem is to go past telling, to be recognized by burning.” What I think Ammons is getting at is that the primary function of poems isn’t just to tell us things; it’s more than that. Poems provide information, of course, but good poems provide the burn Ammons is talking about. This “burn” might be a beautiful image, a narrative we can relate to, a description of something we hope to find or feel or achieve one day, whatever. Poems make us think, and therefore make us smarter. TV and Internet often make us stupid.” ~ Lisa Summe
Doutrope has posted their interview with The Poets Billow editors Michelle Bonczek and Robert Evory on their website. Get a behind the scenes look at how we run our poetry competitions, who our favorite writers are, and what our judging process is like.
Your poem “Breaking Sky,” which won the 2012 Atlantis Award, opens with an imaginary, surreal image and progresses into the tangible, real world of birth and death. The tone shifts from something that at first seems playful and distant into an elegy for the speaker’s mother and loss of memory. How did this poem develop for you in the writing process itself? Did you know that the poem was moving toward the death of a mother? Or is it something that surprised you in the process itself?
I’m not really sure how the poem “started” in my head, but yes, this sudden appearance by my mother does happen often when I’m writing. My mother’s slip into dementia was one of the most stunning occurrences in my entire life. That first encounter with her when I knew she wasn’t in touch with reality was a gut punch for sure. The memory of it doesn’t get dim either. I think in this particular poem it came from talking about the piece of the sky, how you were once like a piece of sky falling from the mother’s thighs to my mother. It just happened. And no, I didn’t know when I began writing the poem.