Q&A: Indian Winter

One is no doubt meant to think of “Indian summer,” then stumble upon quite a different meaning in the phrase. How does India enter into this meteorological shuffle?

The India and winter imagery are puns on the term “Indian summer.” 

What is the form?

I mix things up and put them together again, hoping to create something like a collage. The raw material is words rather than driftwood or cigarette wrappers or plastic spoons. What goes where depends upon how the words combine and how they sound beside each other, the way objects or colors are appealing juxtaposed in collage. I combine free verse and rhyme for this patchwork effect as well. I entertain myself by repeating the syllable “verse” in the rhyming part. The visual is important to me. Tight lines and stanzas help hold the nonsense together. 

Why do you do this?

To make something new. For the pleasure. I currently work in a police station as a victims’ advocate and I deal with heavy issues—domestic violence and assault—every day. Concentrating on a playful poem, without meaning, makes things easier. Maybe it can have that effect on others, not just as distraction, but as an alternate world.

Did Mama or Papa wear Nehru jackets? How do they fit into things, so to speak?

If taken literally, only Mama wears a Nehru jacket, but the poem is not literal. What is the meaning of a tire around a stuffed goat’s midsection, or a slash of orange over a slash of red?

What is a Jewish artichoke?

It is on the menu in almost every restaurant in Rome. It is a small artichoke that is boiled in oil and served whole. You eat the entire thing, spikes and all. It is delicious and tastes like French fries. It is often confused with a Jerusalem artichoke, which is a species of sunflower from North America.

The poker chips are Papa’s; whose are the “acquiescent lips?”

The universe’s.

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2011

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

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