Interview with Rikki Santer
Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: Judaism and loss are so evocative in “Shofar.” How did you approach balancing and intertwining these themes?
Rikki Santer: During the seasons of the Jewish high holidays (the New Year celebration called Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement called Yom Kippur), I find myself lingering on memories of my upbringing with two loving parents who taught me the traditions of my heritage. I miss them very much.
RR: The end suggests the absence of religious practice in the speaker’s life, but also a retained spirituality through the placing of the stones. What inspired this movement in the speaker’s religious observance?
RS: This poem is also an homage to both my mother’s and father’s commitment to give me the freedom to find my own way—hence the fusion in that last stanza of cultural tradition and a nod to my growth beyond religious dogma.
RR: We noticed that the final stanza is physically set apart, emphasizing the passage of time and the loss of both parents. How do you approach poetic form to create another layer of meaning and understanding?
RS: In the process of revision, subsequent drafts keep insisting that I listen for the best form to emerge so that the content can fully breathe.
RR: We see that you are part of the poetry troupe Concrete Wink; how has performing impacted your writing?
RS: When I am composing, I often follow my ear, so to be able to perform with my dear friends gives my poems a chance to celebrate their music. Also, it’s great fun for us to tether onto each other’s themes and passions.
RR: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
RS: All holiday traditions for me revolve around the sweetness of family and friends.
Rikki Santer’s work appears in Issue 10.1 here.