CONTRIBUTOR SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH
The poetry editors, Rappahannock Review: “Gale,” formalistically, looks like a departure from your work in Undertow. Do you see yourself moving towards more diverse forms?
Anne Shaw: To me, it doesn’t seem like a departure. I try to use a wide range of forms, and my goal in writing is always to use whatever form the poem demands. I chose the open field form for “Gale” because it allowed me to convey a sense of wind and storm, of physical and emotional movement . There are open field poems in Undertow, but perhaps “Gale” looks different because it attempts to capture so much violent motion.
RR: How do you see space in “Gale” operating? Is it a visual landscape, a rhythmic invention, or something else entirely?
AS: That depends on whether you mean space in a literal sense–space on the page–or in the metaphorical sense of the poem itself. On the page, it’s both a visual landscape and an emotional map: language is a fragile boat moving across a sea of white space. Within the poem, space is twofold. There is the violent and chaotic force of the storm outside, and fragile stability of the coracle. But there is no real position of stability.
RR: How does your work as an artist relate to your work as a poet?
AS: That’s a good question! It’s something I am always attempting to understand. I am interested in the ways that text can be used in conjunction with space and materials to create an immersive, three-dimensional experience. Some of my work attempts to combine text with sculpture–which isn’t easy to do—but other work attempts to parse out the differences. I think for me the main point of connection is about positioning in space–either the space of the page or three-dimensional space. Both are also about reframing familiar materials, about asking the viewer to pay close attention and use what is there in order to arrive at her own interpretation. You can see for yourself what I mean by going to my website, anneshaw.org.
RR: Your collection Dido in Winter has been described as “a mapping of the senses, in which rapture and disillusionment shadow each other.” Can you elaborate on the relationship you perceive in these two feelings?
AS: Well, I didn’t write that description, but it is an apt one! Like opera and heavy metal, both are realms of intense emotion that can give voice to the extreme registers of human experience. To follow an old line of thinking, I suppose it’s also true that one is not really possible without the other. We would not experience rapture without a history of disillusionment, and disillusionment seems to follow inevitably on the heels of rapture. The poems attempt give voice to the ways in which the body is affected by rapture and ravaged by its loss.
RR: I know it has just been released but what’s the next step after writing Dido in Winter?
AS: I actually have a new manuscript nearly finished; it is a translation of Ludwig Wittegnstein’s Tractatus Logio-Philosophicus from philosophy into poetry. It deals with the nature of language and the relationship between word and world. In ways I didn’t expect, though, it takes up many of the themes that are dealt with in Dido: trauma, loss, and how–or whether–it is possible to give voice to them.
Anne Shaw’s work in Issue 1.4:
Anne Shaw is the author of two poetry collections: Dido in Winter, is forthcoming Persea Books in March of 2014, and Undertow(Persea 2007), winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize. Her poems and reviews have appeared in journals including Harvard Review, Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, The Kenyon Review, andNew American Writing. She currently lives in Chicago, where she studies sculpture at the School of the Art Institute. Her work can be found online at www.anneshaw.org.