Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Interviewee Publishes Her Interview - Sarah Sarai on Geographies

When Geographies of Soul and Taffeta (Indolent Books) was published this April, poet Karen Craigo sent me some questions to answer and suggested I could substitute my own questions. That photo was taken by Michael Broder, founder of Indolent Press at the book party at Zinc Bar, in Greenwich Village.

What did you want to be when you grew up, and why?

I was an enfant terrible of an existentialist who excelled at being what I was – young. I knew I’d been born and knew I would die but having no sense of becoming an adult I suffered no imagined adult iteration of myself. At age seven I fetishized lipstick smears on coffee cups, and couldn’t wait to make this art myself. I was an eight-year-old Annie Oakley. A nine-year-old lawyer in black heels which clicked on the courtroom floor. A friend of most characters in most novels.

What is one poem you particularly enjoyed writing?

“White Tunnel and the Night Return” burst from emotion recollected in an emotional state (as opposed to Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquillity [sic]”). On the way home from a difficult situation late at night, I ran into a keep-your-head-down ruckus on the subway. Jittery and jittery I was compelled to jot down a version of the first stanza, “I was vessel, dumb animal receptor. / DNA snaked me into life, / three insurrectionist rivers carried me. / Antiquity was my patron saint.” Even the refrain. “Jesus, dance with me. / Mary, in your arms.” came to me on the train. I love, if I may be allowed to love something I wrote, the poem’s feel, which I liken to the Muslim call to prayer which puts voice to church bells. Jesus isn’t Jesus and Mary isn’t Mary, although they both are who they are, as well as mystics and comfort.

Describe your worst poetic habit.

Poetic habits? Hmmm. Isn’t a “poetic habit” twisting my locks whilst doing a plie? Wistfully gazing at lambs leaping in a meadow? Weaving bright ribbons of grosgrain and silk to wear in May? I’m being silly and annoyingly so. Of course you mean the bad habits of a poet. While I will often write out the first draft of a poem – on paper – in longhand, subsequent drafts are on the computer. My bad habit here is that I don’t save draft and so have any partial history of a poem to refresh my thinking and creativity.

It’s time someone put out an anthology of poems about ___.

The sun. Hardware stores on Saturday mornings. Root vegetables. Elephants. Torture. An anthology of poems about grunge. Metal. Nightmares. Elves. What the world really needs is an anthology of poems about cats. Also, someone should invent YouTube. And load it with cats. And cute babies. And sex. Lots of sex.

It’s your poetic obituary! Finish it up, but not with your bio—finish it with an essential statement about your poetry.

My corpse is betrothed to Science. Will Science pay for a headstone? Thanks for asking, because if Science doesn’t pay for a headstone, please alert someone I want one. “Sarah Sarai, Loving Poet” will do. May groundskeepers, passersby, and friends leave irises, fuchsia, bougainvillea, narcissus, roses, night-blooming jasmine at my feet. Or head.

Indolent Books is an indie press. Its founder and everything-er is Michael H. Broder, poet.

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