Author of Wreath for the Red Admiral talks about teaching poetry and chapbook writing.
Check it out at Turk’s Head Review online.
Jane Rosenberg LaForge, author of the new chapbook, In Remembrance of the Life, responds to a few questions from our summer intern Katelyn Tarasiewicz, an English major at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
What got you started/interested in writing? Did you start out in fiction or poetry?
“I started out in prose; in journalism, specifically, although I wrote a lot of bad poetry as a junior and senior high school student. I was always interested in writing, probably because my parents were readers and they revered writers. They were also news junkies, which got me interested in journalism. I worked as a journalist for about 12 years and then I went to graduate school and got an MFA in fiction. After I had my daughter I had no time to write prose and everything became poetry. Now I write more poetry although I don’t necessarily consider myself a poet.”
Do you have any writers/poets that have influenced you, in your past or present writings? Any that specifically influenced you for In Remembrance of the Life?
“I’d say that many writers have influenced me, but no one writer influenced this particular chapbook. Kate Braverman was the first writer who ever took me seriously, so she’s had a huge influence on me. John Edgar Wideman was my thesis advisor in graduate school and he writes fiction, although he’s read some of my poetry and said it reads like a novel. Jay Neugeboren also helped me out a lot in graduate school but I can’t say he influenced me on this project. There are a lot of poets that I love, such as Natasha Trethewey and Gillian Conoley; as well as the women who wrote blurbs for me, Leslie McGrath and Chella Courington; but they really weren’t an influence here. I did very deliberately use a Sylvia Plath poem in one instance here, because I was fooling around with the ideas that Plath used, so I could set off my obsession in a different way. But I think what influenced me the most was a funeral notice for a friend that began, “In remembrance of the life.” That really did it for me.”
You have written another book before, An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir. How does writing poetry differ from writing a fictional story?
“For me, writing poetry is like putting out a little news bulletin; grabbing a little bit of time and hardening it so I can remember what it felt like even though it’s rather ephemeral or fleeting. So it’s much more like journalism than actual prose writing is. That said, I pay a lot more attention to sound and rhythm in poetry than I do with prose. With prose, I’m looking for an entirely different effect, kind of a more long-term and global impact; and I have a lot of other goals, such as nailing down a certain characteristic in a character, or making some kind of pedantic point; or dramatizing something that needs to happen in order for the rest of the story or argument to go forward.”
This new chapbook focuses on remembering people that you have lost. Was it hard to write about that since it is such a sad topic?
“I think most of my work is about remembering people or places that I have lost so it was no harder to write the chapbook than it was anything else. What was difficult was maintaining the intensity of feeling I had been dealing with for about five years to the point that I could call on it in any time and put it into words. There was one death in particular that seemed so senseless to me and I think that it galvanized a lot of the ideas I was carrying around in my head, and that’s what led to the chapbook. I wanted in the beginning to make the chapbook all about that one person, but I realized I couldn’t sustain it without running the idea into the ground, so I thought about some other folks who have recently disappeared.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West Chester, PA, June 24, 2016 – Spruce Alley Press, today announced the release of Wreath for the Red Admiral, a 40 page chapbook by the esteemed American poet, Patricia Clark. Most of the poems in Clark’s chapbook take their inspiration from close observations of the natural world.
The poems engage intimately with nature—trees, birds, nests, water, changing seasons, mammals, caterpillars—leading to a renewed human connection with our environment.
Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. She is the author of four books of poetry: Sunday Rising, She Walks Into the Sea, My Father on a Bicycle, and North of Wondering. Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Poetry, Mississippi Review, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Pennsylvania Review, North American Review, Seattle Review, and Iowa Woman. She has also co-edited an anthology of contemporary women writers called Worlds in Our Words.
Publisher James Esch says it was a thrill to work with a poet of Clark’s stature. “Patricia has built an amazing reputation in the poetry community, and this gathering of poems will only enhance her standing among lovers of the written word. Her attentiveness to the little things in nature offers readers a haven from the distractions and anxieties of modern life. Like any great poet, Clark teaches us to see with fresh eyes.”
Some reviews of Wreath for the Red Admiral:
“Art and Nature, Truth and Beauty have always held their rendezvous in lyric poetry. In Wreath for the Red Admiral, they go public––into the readers’ hold––with their perfect marriages of form and content, movement and rooted greenery. This stirring collection offers respite from the strife-filled atmosphere we live in. And it firms Patricia Clark’s status––she is one of the best poets that America presents today.”
–Marilyn Kallet, author of 17 books, including The Love That Moves Me, poetry from Black Widow Press.
“In the best moments in this remarkable collection, the creatures of the world call the poet back into herself, into reflection, into a new understanding, richer and more nuanced. Finally, she disappears in the motion that surrounds her. This is a wise chapbook of observations earned and studies made along an evocative journey.”
–Keith Taylor, poet, author of If the World Becomes So Bright, (Wayne State University Press, 2009), co-editor of Ghost Stories from Michigan (a Michigan Notable Book of the Year, 2012).
“Patricia Clark’s poetry ripples with detail, Nature brought not just to the page but to the eye and nose. I fly with her herons and owls, accept the promise of an evening where bears may be near. She brings us a world still fresh as spring and deep in mystery.”
–Kenneth Pobo, winner of the Blue Light Book Prize in 2014 for Bend of Quiet (2015) and author of When the Light Turns Green (Spruce Alley Press, 2014).
Wreath for the Red Admiral is available for sale as a print-on-demand book at lulu.com, and will be distributed worldwide through Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent booksellers.
Wreath for the Red Admiral by Patricia Clark
40 pages, Paperback
NOTE: Review copies are available (electronic PDF or print). The author is available for interview requests.
It’s official. When the Light Turns Green, a 32 poem chapbook by Kenneth Pobo, accompanied by 12 full color illustrations by Stacy Esch, is now available for sale at lulu.com.
Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart and Desire: A Haunting, says “Within these meditations on death, loss, and pain, readers can find great comfort–gentle reminders that life also offers joy and beauty if only we seek and cultivate it. So read this book. Read this book. Read this book. I promise you this: You will not forget Ken Pobo’s ending poem. But wait for it. Read and savor each preceding poem slowly. And when you arrive at the close, be forewarned: You will bow your head, perhaps even touch your hand to your heart, and you will be reminded why you–why all of us–must daily strive to love more, and better.”
When the Light Turns Green is the 19th chapbook in Pobo’s distinguished career. Pobo has also published five collections of poems and teaches Creative Writing and English at Widener University in southeast Pennsylvania. Stacy Esch has published writing and artwork in wordriver, Turk’s Head Review, Oddball Magazine, and Ibbetson Street. She is a professor of English at West Chester University.
Charles Rammelkamp, author of Mixed Signals (Finishing Line Press) says the book “captures in a few deft strokes, the sweet sadness of human interactions. These poems stay with you after you drive away.”
When the Light Turns Green is available for sale as a print-on-demand book at lulu.com, and will soon be distributed through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent booksellers. An e-book version is also available at Apple’s iTunes bookstore, and additional e-book versions are in production, slated for release in Summer 2014.
When the Light Turns Green by Kenneth Pobo and Stacy Esch
64 pages, Paperback, full color
Spruce Alley was founded in 2013 and operates out of West Chester, Pennsylvania. The press publishes independent literature, audio, and artwork in print-on-demand and digital formats. When the Light Turns Green is its debut book title. For more information, contact sprucealley[@]gmail.com.