Interview with Cameron Bocanegra
Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: In “From Eve to God,” Eve’s bitterness towards God and Adam feels so raw, and we’re interested in how the poem deviates from the Catholic canon. How did you approach retelling this story, which has so much history in literature, and how did you make it your own?
Cameron Bocanegra: I was attending a Christian university when I wrote the poem. We were required to study the Bible objectively. I soon found a great deal of shame beneath anger for my religion’s steadfast value of ancient stories. I imagined the Bible’s women as modern women and saw them scapegoated and shamed religiously at school. The painful empathy for women of the Bible and my community drove me to write with religious influence at the time.
RR: We’re interested in the form of the poem, with tercets bookended by single lines and their emphatic weight. Can you talk about how you think about form when you’re drafting a poem?
CB: While writing it, I considered the way I’d speak to an angry God: clear and concise with a tremble in a small brave voice.
RR: We understand you were formerly Catholic, and this poem contains significant religious motifs. How has your experience with religion influenced your writing?
CB: My confusion and empathy inspired conflicting religious fiction, but now that I am clear in my beliefs, Bible stories and interpretations of those no longer interest me.
RR: Can you recommend any authors or poets that speak on religious topics in a way that you admire?
CB: Marilyn Robinson wrote with theological themes that still open my mind whenever I read her works.
Cameron Bocanegra’s work appears in Issue 9.2 here.