Letras Latinas Presents ire'ne lara silva in Conversation with elena minor
At Letras Latinas, Macondista and CantoMundista and Premio Aztlán Winner, ire’ne lara silva, interviews elena minor. minor is the author of TITULADA: the second installment of Noemi Press’ AKRILICA series, a co-publishing venture with Letras Latinas. Read their words here!
ils: I have to confess—I’m not always the best reader of experimental poetry as some of it leaves me cold—but there’s something very physical, very embodied about your language, its inventiveness and its interactions with blank space. It moves across the page with a control edged with recklessness. The words and thoughts leap and twist, run and flip, kick and two-step. I hear it in different registers—shouting, whispering, songlike and precise, barely audible and loud to the point of approaching incomprehension. How do you approach language and meaning in your work? What do you think spurs the leap in understanding between the poet and the reader in experimental work?
em: I don’t think of my work as ‘experimental’. The word implies a theoretical framework that is not my starting point. That said, though, I do consider my work “exploratory” because that’s what I do with language - explore its possibilities – mostly in a never-ending attempt to explain the why of the world to myself. I start wherever and however the feeling, notion, idea starts and let that carry the weight of words, form and sound. I love sound in poetry, especially rhythm and cadence. Sometimes I let them carry the poem to the point where they are as much the sense as the form of the poem. I also don’t always know the ‘meaning’ of my work. I just know there’s something I need to say, and I let that drive what I put on paper. It’s not always necessary to ‘get’ a poem on the first read. If it takes a poet weeks, months, even years, to write a poem, why should it take only a few minutes to understand it in its fullness? Not getting it right away is a reason to go back and reread it. It sometimes takes me years before I get the full sense of a given poem. Often it comes when I’m no longer trying to understand it – when I just let the collection of words, sounds and symbols overtake me.
ils: Could you share with us a bit of your path as a poet? Which poets and experiences influenced and influence you?
em: There’s no real path. I simply started writing in my early teens when I discovered I enjoyed it. I got a couple of pieces published in my high school literary magazine, but I didn’t think of myself as a writer for many, many years. Other endeavors – more action than thought - always seemed more important. Thinking of myself as a writer was a long time coming. I finally reached a point where I realized it was now or never – let’s see what you got, esa. So I got serious about it. I threw away everything I’d written until then and started all over again. My first publications were fiction work, though. The poetry was still too inchoate to send out for publication. Then at some point poetry became dominant in my writing. Still, it took about eight years to get to TITULADA. [...]
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