CONTRIBUTOR SPOTLIGHT:
INTERVIEW WITH MARCENE GANDOLFO

Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: We are struck by the scar imagery that appears throughout “Lorca’s Guitar,” and we read the metaphor as a possible C-section scar. Can you discuss the meaning of that imagery and what it means to you?

Marcene Gandolfo: That is interesting. I can see how this could be read as a C-section scar. But when I wrote the poem, I didn’t have just one scar in mind. I’m interested in the way the scar becomes a part of the body’s familiar landscape, part of personal identity, part of what shapes and yet fades into the larger body.

I wrote the poem from a place of acceptance. As a young woman, I worked to conceal my scars, but now I’ve grown to love my scars; they remind me of my capabilities to heal and survive. Likewise, ten years ago, as a mother of a young child, my role was to protect my daughter from injury, and if she were hurt, my job was to dress her wound, facilitate healing, minimize that scarring. But, of course, as my daughter grew, I realized that I couldn’t protect her from every hurt, and I learned to accept her scars as I do my own.

RR: The prose form of this poem gives it an intriguing narrative quality. Was this the original intent or did you play around with it before you chose this style? Do you often use this form or was it more of an experimental endeavor?

MG: I originally wrote this poem in the prose form, and I liked the direct way this form captured the narrative’s intensity.

In many instances, the form works for me. I love the intensity of the prose poem. Some poems need the white space, the breath, the breaks in syntax, which slow the pace of the poem. In contrast, the prose poem is dense and unrelenting.

I also love the liminality of the prose poem. The way it is—in essence—a kind of paradox.

RR: We are drawn to this poem because of how vivid the speaker’s feelings are. “I guess we all cry in the fear of disappearing” is a breathtaking line. What was your process behind developing the distinct emotions conveyed through this poem?

MG: Again, I remember when my daughter was young, I’d attempt to create stability in an unstable world, safety in the precarious. I’d hold her and create a safe space when she was afraid, even though, at times, I, too, was afraid. In a broader sense, as a community, I believe we can amplify this notion, create safe spaces, embrace each other, even in times of anxiety and uncertainty.

RR: We noticed that your book Angles of Departure won Foreword Reviews’ Silver Award in Poetry, congratulations! Are you working on any other upcoming projects?

MG: Yes. Not surprisingly, I’m working on a collection of poems that address mother-daughter relationships. I’m interested in the way those relationships have been mythologized. I’m also completing my PhD in comparative mythology, which informs my creative work but also demands a good deal of my time these days.


Marcene Gandolfo’s work in Issue 9.1: 

“Lorca’s Guitar”