One of the questions we formulated for our Apocalypse, USA panelists Thursday night was whether or not current or political or social climates had an impact on pushing you toward apocalyptically themed work, and the answer was usually no, and indeed, as I thought about it, I would have given the very similar answer. I was pretty much finished with the entirely of the manuscript of LITTLE APOCALYPSE, long before the election in 2016, and truthfully before that, for me, what happened was not even on my mind as a possible outcome until it actually, horrifically, was happening. I think I've spent the last year and a half hoping that we'd you know, actually make it all the way through 2018 when my next book was supposed to come out.
I always half joke / half seriously talk about the roots of my series apocalypse theory came from watching too many episodes of Supernatural in a short time frame. terrestrial animal, was inspired by an article on underground houses, while strange machine was inspired by the pinup models and bomb imagery I used for that series of collages, long before the poems were conceived. (themselves, if I remember, a play on the whole "bikini island" thing.) The zombie girl poems were more generally zombie inspired. These were all written from around 2013-2015, and the book accepted in 2016, well before that bleak November. I began the first poem of my impossible objects series, the end of last year, with a nod to previous apocalypse poems, but with a new twist that seemed imminent, even though that isn't really the subject matter of those poems.
Ir's rough. because at any given minute, I write toward fears and obsessions. In the mid 2000's that was violence against women . and probably that was what happened with the more recent series of love poems, which were definitely formed more by external cirumstances than internal. My projects now are more internally focused with impossible objects and the hunger palace and more autobiographical, but sometimes it feels like those external things are skirting at the edges. My own mother's death, in itself personal, also wrapped up in the things that were happening concurrently, watching hours of television news and coverage stuck in various hospital and nursing home rooms--hurricanes, mass shootings, coverage of the administration. So I suppose it's impossible to write the hunger palace series without a nod to those things as well, since none of us exist in a vaccuum.
I remember a former professor who loved Emily Dickinson talking about how strange it was that, as the Civil War through the US, and she was no doubt touched by it in her non-writing life, those concerns and subject matter seem weirdly absent. While I would no even remotely consider myself a writer who deals with political themes outrightly, it seems impossible that they could not form the sort of bedrock the works springs from.'
Regardless, if we do make it through the year, LITTLE APOCALYPSE will be making it's way into the world, and I'll be reading from it during our APOCALYPSE, USA reading at the end of April with a few other poets with similar themes. And as a side note, the exhibit turned out beautifully, most of the work big and dramatic, making the show our largest thus far. And the artist panel so good in terms of discussion (and amazingly well-attended as such things go!)