The Next Big Thing Interview: Marcene Gandolfo
Many thanks to Susan Cohen, who tagged me for “ The Next Big Thing.” Read her interview at www.susancohen-writer.com.
My Next Big Thing
What is the title of the book?
Angles of Departure
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Most of the poems were written in a five-year period. When I began compiling the manuscript, I invited a few older poems into the mix, just because they fit into the book thematically.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I didn’t intentionally begin to write a book. I was just keeping my notebook, writing poems. But – after a period in my life when I experienced a significant loss -- I noticed that I was using language a bit differently. In particular, I began to experiment with a longer, more elastic line and with the prose poem. A few years ago, I read a quote from Carolyn Forché. She said that “language fragments at the core of trauma.” I hadn’t really understood that concept until I noticed this group of poems that seemed particularly different than those I had previously written. These 12 poems, written consecutively in my notebook over a relatively short period of time, flowed together as if they were part of a larger whole. Later I realized I had written the first section of my book.
While the manuscript has its roots in those first few poems, which center on a personal experience, the book’s larger themes address more universal questions we all face, particularly as we grow older. The poems ask us to consider how we live with loss, how our losses shape our lives and how the acceptance of our own impermanence can enrich our existence.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
No celebrity actors. I would invite friends, neighbors, even strangers . . . to read lines . . . And my thee cats would be extras.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored.” – Henry Miller
Who or what inspired you to write the book?
The poems of Larry Levis – particularly his later poems -- were very much with me over the time that I was writing the book. During this time, I was also reading a lot of poetry in translation, namely Tomas Transtromer, Yannis Ritsos and Adelia Prado.
What else about the book might pique your reader’s interest?
I believe that poetry is a strong connective force. The best poems seek to unify the personal and sociopolitical, the real and surreal. Poetry can bring people together as well. We live in a society that often encourages us to identify ourselves by our separateness, hold fast to our “isms” and ideologies. In such a society, poetry is a significant gift.
I hope that my poems provide my readers with a sense that in spite of superficial differences, we are deeply connected. If my readers emerge from my book feeling a bit less alone, then I am gratified.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Cherry Grove Collections, a division of WordTech Communications, will publish my book in early 2014. My editor is Kevin Walzer.