Tagged: lesley wheeler
This week in Fringe, we’re featuring Celia Lisset Alvarez’s longer poem “Blackbirds.” It’s a nonce sestina and, accordingly, 39 lines long. That’s one line short of our usual minimum for longer poetry. But sestinas feel longer than their 39 lines, and this one is, we thought, especially rich. We’re happy to share it again. For the occasion, poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips asked Alvarez about the poem and her recent work.
Looking at this poem two years after its publication, what comes to mind? Is there anything you’d change? Anything you’d forgotten about and are happy to see?
Every time I think of this poem I still can’t believe Fringe picked it up, or that I wrote it. It’s so risky. So many unexplained words and phrases in Spanish—I left them in out of recklessness. The poem is a rare instance of not second-guessing myself. I “should have” tried harder to explain the words in Spanish, I “should have” tried harder to work with the sestina form, I “should have” done many things, I suppose, but I didn’t, and I’m so glad. I have gotten a lot of wonderful feedback on precisely those aspects of the poem that break the rules. One of my favorite... more »more »
“Zombie Thanksgiving,” a poem by Lesley Wheeler, is up this week in Fringe. It, along with poems from Wheeler’s previous Fringe appearance, is part of her new collection, The Receptionist and Other Tales, forthcoming from Aqueduct Press. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips asked her about the book, the poem, and strategies for packing to go to conferences. Find her responses below, and please share your own thoughts in the comments section.
You’ve got a series of zombie poems going, including some charming short poems. How did the zombies invade your work?
As usual, it’s a combination of things: pleasure in supernatural or fantastic stories; The Walking Dead TV and graphic novel series; teaching T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and starting to think of it as a zombie tale; and writing some other poems with elements from genre fiction. I also gave two readings including “Zombie” from my book Heathen and received intense responses from the audiences. After the first event, a student shot her hand in the air and demanded urgently, “What’s scarier, fast zombies or slow zombies?” That isn’t one of the usual post-poetry-reading questions. The second took place in Pittsburgh, George Romero-land, where zombies are always serious business.
“Zombie Thanksgiving” seems partly to do with how... more »more »
Four of Lesley Wheeler’s poems, including “The Book of Neurotransmitters,” appear in Fringe issue 24. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips interviewed Wheeler by email in November.
Your second full-length poetry collection, Heterotopia, won the Barrow Street Prize for 2010. It includes the sonnet sequence “The Calderstones,” which was part of your first chapbook as well. Did it act as a generative force for other poems in the book?
Writing that sonnet sequence was an interesting experience. I had just returned from three weeks in England, part of it spent on research for the collection. With my kids in summer camp, I had a window of a couple of weeks for intense writing. I wanted to try writing a crown and had recently read some collaborative sequences by Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton that handled the repeated lines with a liberating looseness. As I went through my notes, I realized that the Calderstones would be a perfect central image for a circular form, so I mapped out a progression of topics and just started drafting like a demon—two or three sonnets a day. I generally revise heavily and repeatedly, but not this batch; these poems came together shockingly fast. I did revise them again... more »more »