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Interview with Desiree Wright
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • PoetryCircle: Desiree, who has been your most significant poetic influence?

    Desiree Wright: "Back out of all this now too much for us", not the interview, but Robert Frost. He would be my most significant poetic influence, if we are speaking of writers. Otherwise, love, of course.

    PoetryCircle: Your poetry often starts and ends in the personal realm, hinting at larger issues and searching for resonance along the way.

    What I find refreshing is that you have reached a level of poetic maturity that allows you not to strain for meaning at the end of a piece. The last lines of "Dough," for instance, end up in the same mixing bowl in which the poem began, without hitting the reader over the head with a heavy statement.

    Desiree Wright: I can't really be anything other than personal, because, first of all, I am a person. Secondly, Twain said "There are only two people who should use the pronoun "we", a woman with child and a man with a tape worm." I take this to further include other methods of removing myself from the text. Why give myself a character name? If it's me it's me.

    I do come full circle in the poem entitled "Dough". I suppose it's because that is the natural progression of life. Just when you think you are getting somewhere, you are back where you started. I don't hit anyone over the head at the end of that poem, but I have been known to do it. Perhaps I am giving it up because it doesn't seem to work.

    The world has a harder head than it used to. I wish it did work because I can't tell you how many people I run into that need a good knock upside their ears.

    PoetryCircle: The diction of your work varies, and I find that interesting. Occasionally you'll throw a completely colloquial-sounding phrase or word into a poem that otherwise has a more poetic tone.

    Desiree Wright: I do throw in some Arkansas here and there. Sometimes it works, sometimes it cain't make big. But it'll wake you up in the middle of a poem. I like the element of surprise. This would also include awkward work inversions and bad grammar.

    PoetryCircle: How do you know when a poem is "finished"?

    Desiree Wright: Time tells me the poem is finished. Two years from today, I won't be the same person. The next me will determine whether the poetry goes into the first fall bonfire, or stays in the maybe bin.

    PoetryCircle: The "lead" is a concept with which journalists are well acquainted--and for good reason. They need a lead that stands out in order to interest the reader.

    Poets don't seem to pay enough attention to the lead, in my opinion. You do, as in "Dumb Luck":

    " See this? I built it with my ignorance.
    It doesn't work so good, but it can
    hold a thought."

    Are you conscious of creating good leads?

    Desiree Wright: I am conscious of good lead ins and good gettin outs. I was a journalism major before I graduated with a teaching degree. I think the basics that apply to prose, also work in poetry. If you are going to be a little weak, do it in the middle. Have a hook, and have a bobber.

    PoetryCircle: What's your strategy for line breaks?

    Desiree Wright: I still haven't mastered the art of the perfect line break. I think it takes more patience than I currently have. I don't know. I do try to reconfigure, but I always seem to go back to the original format.

    PoetryCircle: Your work seems partly influenced by the land, the midwestern land, I'd say, of rural life: corn, mixing bowls, piles of snow needing to be shoveled. Do you see yourself as a writer influenced greatly by place?

    Desiree Wright: I am influenced by time and place. Again, this goes back to some basics. Write what you know. This is where I live, these are my days. It is not Rome, but I have the daunting task of finding wonder in culverts half blocked with hay bails.

    PoetryCircle: What's your take on the greatest challenges people face in relationships?

    Desiree Wright: Money, time, and the division of labor. We never have enough of the first, we can't manage the second, and we don't want either part of the third.

    PoetryCircle: What are your goals for yourself as a poet? As a person?

    Desiree Wright: I would like to publish a volume of poetry that appeals to all readers. We (me and my tapeworm) need to put poetry back on the front shelves of the book store, where it belongs.

    As a person, I have achieved my goals. I have been a good wife and a good mother. I hope I can continue to give my family what they need.

    PoetryCircle: Thanks, Desiree.
Wren Tuatha likes this.
  1. brendan christopher
    There is great continuity throughout this interview. I like the themes that are visited and revisited by both interviewer and poet. A nice read...
  2. Tom Riordan
    Nice to listen to you, Desiree. Tom