Q for the Poet
Hi, January. I'm intrigued by your comment about the next book and how you've "already mapped it out" in your head. Can you say more about how that works? I've never been able to think in those terms, just taking the poems as they come and then forming a book in the aftermath.
Let’s see. Underlife reads like a first collection of poetry. I’m very proud of the work but that’s what it is. I feel less connected to that work now that it’s been in print for a few months. The second manuscript expands to more social themes but also deals with personal issues such as divorce. I’m really really really ready to let go of those poems.
With my next project, I want to explore Boston’s cultural past (I live north of Boston, but I’m originally from Virginia), particularly its relationship to civil rights and race relations in the 50s and 60s to the present. I’m also consumed with the idea that I am a first-generation, post civil rights beneficiary, raising children who are second generation beneficiaries. In other words, I am a recipient of all who have struggled and overcome before me, but my kids don’t have those experiences to draw from. How do I raise them with that sensibility, yet let them be whoever they were meant to be? As I type this, I don’t fully understand it myself—which is part of why I need to do this project right now.
So, I’m giving myself a wide berth here. This is how I’ve scoped the project as of today. I may end up with six poems or 60 poems that touch on this subject. Hoping to explore new forms and touch upon something deeper. I’ll need a few months for research and writing, but most likely will do a heavy bit of writing in the spring. At this point, I feel like I need to forge into new territory, which is exciting and thrilling at the same time.
Guess I’ve ruminated on this topic for a while. I’m ready to put up or shut up, so to speak.
Thanks for the question, Sandy.