Monday, March 14, 2011

Artists In My Life: Erika L.

I have known Erika for about 3 years now and she never ceases to amaze me with her way with words.  She has made me realize that I have A LOT to learn about the English language and how much easier it could be to express my thoughts and feelings if i knew the right words to say.
Erika also has a quirky side. She is a bit of an unconventional person. I love this about her because she always keeps me on my toes and when spending time with her, there is never a dull moment.
So thank you Erika, for reminding me that the pen is indeed, mightier than the sword, what the definition of despondent is and that it's OK to like Barbarella but hate Rocky Horror Picture Show. ;)

1. How would you describe your style of writing.
Intentional, sometimes surprising.

2. Are there any people, famous or not, that have influenced your work?
Kim Addonizio and Marie Howe taught me that poetry could be personal, introspective, and powerful without having to fall into Sylvia Plath's Confessionalist footsteps. In the midst of my horrible high school poetry writing I was believed in enough by two different English teachers. In early college, I was given Cliver Barker, the beautiful bastard that broke my world. His book Sacrament is one of the most powerful, wonderful works of fiction I have ever read. He taught me to bring the sacrosanct into my work; he taught me not to rely on common, holy symbolism but to create my own. He gave me the courage to explore in my writing places I was a little too afraid to go. This has cropped up most recently in my current poem, “Dreams About the Moon”.

3. When did you first discover your creative talents?
Oh, early. It happened to be a criticism of someone's work. We were practicing cursive in whatever grade grammar school kids learn cursive. Mine has always been abysmal and the process was all the more torturous by the terrible Christmas poems we were copying. White, faintly lined paper pasted on atrocious red construction paper highlighted by my even more abysmal cutting of said paper and the lopsided little holly berries in the corners.

I thought, “I can do better than this” – in regard to the poem. I still can't cut in a straight line and my cursive still leaves something to be desired.

4. Describe yourself in five words
Persnickety, Introspective, Devoted, Perceptive, Aesthete.

5. Do you have any phobias?
Yes. Even talking about house centipedes makes me want to cry and I hate clowns – not because of anything Steven King ever dreamed up. It's the deception. It's the false happiness, forced social nature, and the obvious desire to escape oneself. It's disturbing. That, and I watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space as a child and *still* cannot get the sucking sound out of my head. I recently started to lucidly dream to escape the nightmare I was having wherein the Klowns were coming. It involved me deciding to escape on a riding lawn mower. So, secretly I believe all clowns are liars that really want to turn us into cotton candy cocoon food.

And now for some of Erika's poetry: 
Dreams About the Moon

1. Today the clouds unstuck themselves
from the sky. A great unraveling.
Like clots of wool they fell
some fibers loose, drifting upward
to frame the low slung moon.

We gathered in the meadows.
We gathered in the cities
our palms brimming with the stuff,
fine scratches trailing
the delicate skin of our forearms.

Set to work carding the thick
tufts, our fingers burned
with the precision of lovers'
first touch. Thread colors
changing like fingerprints.

I opened up. A clean line cut
from groin to sternum, the star
of my chest unfurling, pulling inward
the cloud fiber, and spinning
it back out again. This time, alone.

Left to the shimmering work,
left to the task of weaving cloud,
flesh, and bone into summer
grass. Above, Athena
watched with cool, gray eyes.

2. When I was young,
we used graph paper
to draw our future
houses on the moon
(to keep them from being
lopsided). We planned
the windows, the doors.
Our tiny, space gardens.

Travel was primitive.
Each home sat
in its own fortress
between glass walkways
like interconnected
snow globes,
a lunar suburbia.

Here we wouldn't wonder
about phases – they would be true
as seasons. We would not concern
ourselves with tides,
but of the inevitable spinning
from our orbit, an orphaned rock,
made less special
away from the marble blue
center of our history.

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