1) How and when did you initially discover that writing was a passion of yours?
I don’t quite remember how I discovered my love for writing, but I would guess that it was fostered from a passion for reading. I have fond recollections of writing down small poems and tidbits at the age of about 8 or 9, and resting my notebook atop a colossal volume of classical poetry, so the two are so interconnected for me. Perhaps the truest thing that I’ve come to understand about my own writing process is that it’s so heavily influenced by other writers. One of my favorite feelings is that of a blissful overwhelm of emotion when I find a poem or piece of fiction that profoundly moves me. Language is such an interesting and difficult thing to master, both in reading and writing.
2) Might you share who your favorite poets/writers are, and why?
Oof. This is a big question! Here are my top five (in no particular order):
(1) Samuel Taylor Coleridge. There is such a power to his writing. Everything from his sense of rhythm to his sense of sound, his ability to paint an extremely visceral image, his mastery of rhyme and storytelling–I’m amazed. Perhaps what’s more, he’s willing to traverse extremely dark places in his poetry. His literary struggles with repentance and morality and innate evils and societal entrapment are all gorgeous and heartbreaking. Perhaps more heartbreaking and more fascinating than that is the many ways in which he deconstructs a societal norm and then proceeds to plaster and bandage up (quite incompletely) the destruction that he just enacted.
(2) E.E. Cummings. If ever there were a poet who could so beautifully baffle me, it would be E.E. Cummings. The fluidity and brightness of his poetry is so contrary to the (typically) heavy subjects that he discusses. There is an enormous tension between the cadence of the poem and what it actually imparts to the reader. I’ve spent hours examining and re-examining “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and have, happily, been unable to reach any decisive conclusions.
(3) Frank O’Hara. The emphasis on wandering, both in the phrasing of his stanzas and what they contain, the disconnectedness of his ideas in the way that they’re presented–he’s able to enchant and entice readers in a way that few others can. His poems beg to be spoken, and to me they drip down the page like a Salvador Dali clock. Truly, they’re just glorious.
(4) Terrance Hayes. Another man whose poetry begs to be spoken aloud. His toying with time as a concept and as a construct is so intriguing to me, and it’s challenging to find words to describe just how necessary his voice is. There is a heaviness in the fall of his words; they refuse, in fact, to fall softly, regardless of the structure of the poem.
(5) Ishion Hutchinson. Dwelling in the strange and beautiful liminal space between the abstract and the concrete, Hutchinson is able to paint with words some of the most haunting images I’ve ever come across. There is a music to his stanzas, and his works all have a whispering melody. Every words is measured and weighed, and he manages to say exactly what he wants to without compromising meaning or rhythm or intent; his words are pointed.
I realize now that these are all poets, and they are all male. Truthfully, these are just the first of many to come to mind, but I feel I’ve drudged on quite long enough about these incredibly inspirational beings.
3) Do you pursue writing in a professional sense, or is it strictly a pastime that you appreciate?
In the poems and short stories I write, it’s largely just for the appreciation of creating something. I love the process. I love laboring over the words and the music in the lines.
Professionally, I’m an undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience and English. The influence of both discourses tends to find its way into my poetry.