Top book writing advices? Repetition involves repeating a line or a word several times in a poem. Poets use this to emphasize a point, to bring attention to a particular item or theme, to achieve a particular effect, or to provoke an emotional reaction from the reader.
Write different versions, then look them over and compare. How do they look on the page? Dense and heavy, or light and delicate? How well does their appearance fit your poem? What about the sound? Try reading them out loud. What is the rhythm like, for example, short and choppy, bouncy, smooth? Are there places where your eye or voice pauses? Are these the right places? Which versions are most interesting to read? Are there any places where the look or sound becomes distracting (for example, if you have one very long line that sticks out too much)?
What are you writing about Rachel Rabbit White? Before, I was constantly running things through the lens of theory and philosophy, creating multiple dramatic voices in the text. I am still thinking about the phenomenology of romance, but the problem of romance is something that’s passed to you as a child, through the family, through the entire world around you. It’s something I’ve always known so intimately, so maybe that’s why in addressing it. There’s a softness, there’s lyricism. I was beating that out of the poems before.
There’s a quote in an interview you did about the idea of poetry being inherently queer. Intuitively, that makes a lot of sense. Well, you can’t talk about poetry without talking about Sappho. Are your shorter poems inspired by Sapphic fragments? Completely. Poetry is open to the innumerable differences of the reader, and the way it falls in the reader’s ears, there is that flirtation there, and that act of invitation, which is to me inherently queer. I can’t help but think of poetry in the tradition of Sappho—how can she not be a part of any love poem that you’re writing? Then I was wondering if every poem was a love poem. That also might just be me unable to write anything other than love poems because of my belief in romance that I can’t undo in myself, which I want to play with and intellectualize. What does love look like to you, intellectually? For me, being in love is simply having someone who is a comrade, sharing the same values, sharing a same sense of beauty, sharing a same sort of joie de vivre or love of art, being aligned. That’s what being in love is. Discover more info on Poet Rachel Rabbit White.
I met Rachel Rabbit White last December. Her first collection of poems, Porn Carnival, had just come out the month before. I’d read an article about the release party, about some angel dust, a little cake-sitting, a DJ, and then something like “Rachel Rabbit White is a sex worker.” It all seemed glamorous and no-fucks-ish. And this was about poetry. I had just gotten out of prison. I was in a halfway house. Weekdays, I went to work at an office. It was a bullshit job. I was making $8/hr, paying 25 percent of the gross of my paychecks back to the halfway house for “subsistence.” I had published a novel the previous year. It was a good thing I had, or I’d have been broke. I haven’t gone back to check, but I think there’s only one hyacinth in Porn Carnival. And no one gets bored to death by what existential crises overtake a body in the organic co-op of whatever town Bard College is in. It isn’t that type of book. You get lines such as “these girls were at the wrong orgy,” titles such as “In the Heart-Shaped Jacuzzi of my Soul.” Which isn’t to say it’s all so… rowdy. On god, she reminds me most of Octavio Paz. Still, it’s a book about sex work, mainly.