Contributor Spotlight: Deborah Poe

img_0032Deborah Poe’s hybrid pieces, “Statement and “Beryllium & Wing,” are featured in Issue 73 of the Bellingham Review.

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

I have nine copies of “Wing,” the 3″x 2″ letterpress edition on fabric for “Beryllium & Wing,” that I sent out after publication of my piece to nine close artist/writer friends and on which to collaborate. I have invited them to mar, trample, nest, or collage the little book so that these become nine other pieces in the world, investigating the kinetic page even further. See my “Statement” for ideas on “translation” relative to my multimedia work.

Tell us about your writing life.

I have been writing more seriously since I was 19. I’ve talked elsewhere with Jillian Mukavitz in her “profiles in linguistics and poetics” about how I’ve evolved as a writer. There’s a broadening, or opening, to other types of projects, which is probably as much due to my curiosity as it is to increased confidence that the years have allowed. Obsessions? Place, the cultural politics of difference, home, belonging.

Which non-writing aspect of your life most influences your writing?

The community of women artists and writers in which I operate—I understand that community in the most global of ways. The Pacific Northwest. Buddhist/Eastern philosophy. Social injustice. The desire to make a difference.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

The difference between ambition and aspiration? One lets you breathe. It was some advice to self that arose in my first poetry collection, Our Parenthetical Ontology.

What is your favorite book or essay or poem?

Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is one of the most profoundly moving books I have read in the last five or ten years. Marconi’s Cottage, by Medbh McGuckian, an utterly enchanting poetry collection. I just finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, a very insightful book about Nigerian life, race in America, and being between worlds.

What are you reading right now?

Since my semester-long sabbatical in spring 2016, I have this newly uncharacteristic habit of reading several books at once. Right now I am reading Jedediah Purdy’s After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

What project are you working on now?

I wrote two full-length poetry manuscripts on sabbatical. The Belonging Epiphany (from which “Beryllium” comes) needs about 30-40 hours of revision. Empathy, about climate change and migration, needs more poems to fill out two of the four sections.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I am a Zen practitioner and am taking the precepts in spring 2017.

Where can our readers connect with you online?

DEBORAH POE is the author of the poetry collections the last will be stone, too (Stockport Flats), Elements (Stockport Flats), and Our Parenthetical Ontology (CustomWords), as well as a novella in verse, Hélène (Furniture Press). Her writing has appeared in journals like Denver Quarterly, Court Green, Colorado Review, Yellow Field, Touch the Donkey, and Jacket2. Her visual works—including video poems and handmade book objects—have been exhibited at Pace University (New York City), Casper College (Wyoming), Center for Book Arts (New York City), University of Arizona Poetry Center (Tucson), University of Pennsylvania Kelly Writers House at Brodsky Gallery (Philadelphia), and ONN/OF “a light festival” (Seattle), as well as online with Elective Affinities, Peep/Show, Trickhouse, and The Volta. Associate professor of English at Pace University, Pleasantville, Deborah directs the creative writing program and founded and curates the annual Handmade/Homemade Exhibit. She has also taught at Western Washington University, Binghamton University, SUNY, the Port Townsend Writer’s Workshop in Washington, Richard Hugo House, and Casa Libre en La Solana in Tucson. Deborah served as Distinguished Visiting Writer for Seattle University during Winter Term 2016.