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Author/Reader Discussions > BURN THIS HOUSE author/reader discussion

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (last edited Mar 01, 2014 03:57PM) (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Next month, we'll be discussing BURN THIS HOUSE with Kelly Davio... and her publisher (Red Hen Press) has given us a total of 10 copies to give away. Mix of paper copies (just for US residents) or PDF (open internationally)!

I'm excited to be sharing another poetry collection with you. This one is a bit shorter and much different in terms of style and content!

In order to be considered, you must comment here or on the blog for a shot at winning one and secure a spot in the discussion that kicks off April 20th:


This giveaway will run through March 8th.

Winners will be announced here and via email (if you provide one) on March 9th.

Here's how to enter:

1 - Leave a comment here or at TNBBC's blog, stating why you'd like to receive a copy of the book. You MUST be a resident of the US to win a paper copy, so please state your preference and where you reside.


2 - State that you agree to participate in the group read book discussion that will run from April 20th through April 26th. Kelly Davio has agreed to participate in the discussion and will be available to answer any questions you may have for her.

*If you are chosen as a winner, by accepting the copy you are agreeing to read the book and join the group discussion here.

message 2: by Peg (last edited Mar 02, 2014 11:21AM) (new)

Peg | 52 comments I've gotten really into poetry again since reading A Deep and Gorgeous Thirst, and this one really interests me. I'm fascinated by spirituality, religion and different spiritual traditions, and with the dark side of religion, crises of faith, changes in or cessations in belief. I was raised in a very Catholic household but my views and my gut feelings never matched those of my family. I would love to win a copy of the book (preferably paper but either would be great). I'm in Colorado. I agree to read the book and participate in the group discussion if I win a copy.

message 3: by Sarah (last edited Mar 02, 2014 04:33AM) (new)

Sarah (m_sarah) | 9 comments Since last August, I've been attending on a regular basis to my local Spoken Word/Poetry...meeting? Drink-away?

I've discovered modern poetry the spoken way and've been buying their literary magazines, and I'm eager to read more.

I live in France so, if I win, I'd like a PDF copy.

I agree to participate in the group read book discussion.

EDIT: Even though I live in France, I should clarify that the Spoken Word I'm attending is made of 90% of English speaking performers and the magazines are in English too.

message 4: by Marvin (new)

Marvin | 19 comments I love reading new poetry, and I'd definitely participate in the discussion (I don't get to talk books nearly as often as I'd like of late, anyway). The subject matter is of interest to me--my personal life, growing up, shared some similarities on the religious front. I'd prefer a paper copy as I lack a digital reader and don't care for reading on the computer. I live in Texas. Thanks!

message 5: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Would love to read more poetry! This sounds interesting!
I understand I must participAte in the discussion and read the book

message 6: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Sorry Lori,I live in Chicago and would love a paper copy.
Also my email is

message 7: by Tickles (new)

Tickles I would love the opportunity to read this book. I love reading different genres - like all books, I keep an open mind and try to understand where the author is thinking. I live in the Connecticut and would like it in book form.

message 8: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Congrats to everyone who commented for a copy of BURN THIS HOUSE. You have all won!!

Emails are headed your way shortly, please check your goodreads inbox!

Thanks for your interest in Kelly's book and your excitement in joining the discussion next month!

message 9: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Good morning everyone! Happy Easter, or Spring Holiday, whichever you celebrate!!

I'm thrilled to welcome Kelly Davio to our humble abode this week!

I hope you are all prepared with questions for her, and have enjoyed her collection of poetry.

To kick things off, here's my opening question for Kelly,

At what point in your life did you uncover your desire for writing poetry? And at what point did you realize you wanted to be published?

message 10: by C.A. (new)

C.A.  (clarue) | 6 comments What a great question, Lori! I am also interested in how the division headings came about. Kelly, came you comment on those?

message 11: by Marvin (new)

Marvin | 19 comments Hi, Kelly. I enjoyed Burn This House very much.

"The Way I Remember," had me thinking, with the way it involves a false or I guess misremembered memory, about the way personal history often fuels poems. Where does autobiography start and stop? How much lying or making-up does a poet get to do?

message 12: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Hi, everyone! First of all, I'd love to say a big thank you to Lori for bringing this book giveaway and discussion into being, and also to everyone here who read the book! It's a really exciting thing for a writer to publish a book, but it's also fraught with terror (will anybody read it? If anyone reads it, will she hate it? And so on). So the fact that you guys not only took the time to read the book but also to talk with me here this week is an honor to me. Thank you!

Okay, on to the questions.

As to your question, Lori, I have been writing poetry since I was in high school, although we'd have to define "poetry" pretty loosely in order to count what I scribbled down as a teenager. I was pretty aimless, sketching out obscure images for my own gratification. I started to write more seriously in college, though I still mainly wrote for myself. It was when, on a whim, I sent a poem to my college's literary journal and got my first acceptance letter that I developed a desire to publish. Learning that someone else had enjoyed my work made me think, "hey, maybe my poems aren't just for me. Maybe they're something others can enjoy and get something out of." I started taking creative writing classes and reading more poetry, trying to develop my craft.

message 13: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments C.A., I love your question! I really geek out over order in poetry collections, and I ordered this collection in what's possibly an obsessive way! Many of the poems in the collection were written individually (as opposed to being written for a specific purpose in the collection--most came to me as separate entities), but when I began to look at what I had, I realized that I had written a great deal about the religious consciousness. I looked at the way I found myself dealing with sins and virtues (my stance on those two, as you no doubt saw in the book is that they're not too different from one another), and I thought, why not make sin and virtue a focal point of the collection?

I started to retitle and even write new pieces about the deadly sins, then found counterpoints in the idea of the seven heavenly virtues (a concept I drew from an early Christian epic poem called the "Psychomachia" rather than a concept that appears in any sacred text). The poems in the Sin and Virtue sections are ordered from the inside out--the first sin corresponds to the last virtue, the second sin to the penultimate virtue, and so on; I liked the idea of sin and virtue folding in on themselves--of having more of an accordion-like relationship to one another than a correspondence of good and bad.

As for the other sections, I was ordering the poems more according to tone than to content. I wanted to start with the early feelings of uncertainty and of doubt, and work my way up to the more bombastic, more assured poems in the end, and I tried to achieve that by starting with the idea of portents and signs and by moving all the way to "judgement," which is a play on words, in this case, for my finding my own point of view or my own judgements through the haze of religious culture.

message 14: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Hi, Marvin! Such a good question about the line between autobiography (or, perhaps we could say memoir?) and fiction in poems.

Poetry is a strange middle territory as a form. In prose memoir, I expect adherence to the facts as best as the writer can remember them, and in fiction, I expect total, wild invention. But poetry is a lawless land--poets love nothing more than breaking rules and subverting expectation. Making things even more tricky is the hazy "I" in so much contemporary poetry. When we look at poetry in the Western tradition, reaching back for hundreds upon hundreds of years, it's only very recently that we've begun to expect that the "I" in a poem involve the poet rather than some other character, as with a dramatic monologue, for instance. So we have a long tradition of poets speaking as characters, and then we have a shift into poets speaking as themselves…what's the reader to do in trying to figure out who's talking? Should poets have some kind of etiquette, if not necessarily ethics, in representing themselves? It's a tricky question, but my own feeling is that it's much more fun, both as a poet and as a reader, for invention to be a big feature of a poet's work. I think we read poems for a truth that runs deeper than fact--for something that speaks to us on a core levels in a way that collections of true statements do not. I find something rather delicious in wondering whether what I read in someone else's work is real or invented, and in examining why it matters to me to know.

Having written all of that, I'd say that this book is heavily based on my reports of events as I remember them. In the case of "The Way I Remember," I'm being wholly factual. There are no invented features in that poem. Other pieces are based on experiences that belong to other people: "Gluttony," for example, comes from a news item I read about a preacher who was mauled by his pet goat on Easter morning (!). In some cases, I invent enlivening details for the sake of the poem, as I did with the dog in "Humility" (the Constitution shirt, I am happy to report, is a real thing!).

message 15: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Hi, Kelly,

I do not know if this was asked or not, but it seems like religion played a somewhat big role in your poetry. Is that the case?

Great poetry, I love the themes and how you set up the virtue and sin sections.

message 16: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Let me clarify. Were you raised with a big religious upbringing, or was it something that you saw more in others, and your poetry was an outlet in understanding others fervor over religious matters?

message 17: by C.A. (new)

C.A.  (clarue) | 6 comments Kelly, you really give such wonderful answers--very detailed and insightful. Thank you for that.

One thing I love about your poetry is how connected it is to the earth. I especially like how you play with texture and color and sound in "Gammelfleisch". Tell me how did you churn up that word.

And also, can you speak a bit on how place influences your work.

message 18: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Deanna, thanks for this question! I would say that religion was almost the sole influence of my upbringing; I was raised in the "charismatic" church (Pentecostal, "spirit-filled," or any number of other adjectives apply, but think exorcism, speaking in tongues, being "slain in the spirit," and so forth), and my parents were, at that time, extremely conservative. My siblings and I were kept out of school for many years and didn't associate with other children (or adults for that matter). Our world was basically the inside of our house and the religious culture that was cultivated there. In a lot of ways, Burn This House is my way of working through and lighting up what was a dark time in my life.

I should say here that I don't think that all religious practice is as detrimental to its practitioners as my experience was to me, but I do suspect that there are a lot of us out there who were more scarred by the experience than edified by it. I identify a little too much with Flannery O'Connor's character Hazel Motes in Wise Blood: "...he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he might be walking on the water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown."

message 19: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thanks so much, C.A.!

I have to give all credit for the term "gammelfleisch" to my mentor, Carolyne Wright, who suggested the title for that poem when she read an early draft. If I remember correctly, she heard about this rather unflattering slang term while listening to public radio, and she thought it was a great fit for the poem. It really did add to the poem, I think, and I certainly wouldn't have come across that word myself. Carolyne, in many ways, deserves a lot of credit for any good work I've done in the book.

Ah, place. I have a funny relationship with place in my writing, as I never thought of myself as a writer who is very "in tune with nature," (my writing partner once referred to me as "rurally challenged," in fact!) and nature always seems to be synonymous with place in the common parlance. But I do keep finding myself coming back to California and its light, its landscapes, its very flat skyline. Even though I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for over a decade, I still think of myself as a Californian at heart, and it seems very natural for me to want to set my writing there. I've known a lot of writers who've come to the Northwest and felt very moved by the landscape here, but I don't feel that way; for whatever reason, its still the expansive dirt, the smoggy air, and the pounding sunlight that feel like home in my body and in my writing.

message 20: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Kelly, I'm really loving the insight into your history and your poetry so far! It's fascinating.

I see that you are going to be releasing a verse novel - Jacob Wrestling - in the near future. Can you share with us how this writing process was different for you?

message 21: by Rachelle (new)

Rachelle | 22 comments Kelly you mentioned that having your poetry accepted to your college's literary journal was a catalyst for your desire to publish your work an I noticed the list of reviews and journals that poems in the book had previously appeared in. Can you tell us a little bit about the differences between selecting a poem for submission to a journal and selecting poems for a book. Waiting for a letter from a journal versus working with a publisher like Red Hen?

message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (m_sarah) | 9 comments Hi Kelly!

First of all, English is not my mother-tongue so I apologise for any mistakes I might make. Especially weird ones.

I'm always in for the writers who can tell something very true, mostly universal, and, most of all, simply. I feel like most of your poems were like that: simply striking the right chord.

You already answered a lot of the questions I might have had so I'm going for: do you have one (or more) favourite poet (or writer) that you feel has influenced you during the making of the poems featured in "Burn This House"?

message 23: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thanks for this question, Lori! The process of writing Jacob Wrestling (which will be out next March!) could not have been more different from that of writing Burn This House. Whereas I wrote Burn This House over the course of a few years, and it came together in a somewhat organic manner, as I was speaking about above, I wrote Jacob Wrestling--which is about 3 or 4 times longer than Burn This House--in just four intense months, and I wrote it according to a strict, fully developed plot outline.

While a verse novel is, by definition, told through poems, it's also a fully developed story, so I had to keep a lot of balls in the air to make not only the poetry but the plot work. When I was working on this book, I was writing for about four to six hours each day (for me, that's a lot), and really inhabiting the world that I was creating. It's a mercy that I was able to complete the book in those four months, because it really did take me to a dark and obsessive place as I was trying to lay down this story that had arrived so fully formed in my mind; it is a writing experience I wouldn't want to have again, but I'm very pleased with the result!

Writing Jacob Wrestling was also an exercise in serious character research; to jump off the discussion about non-autobiographical poems above, this book was non-autobiographical in the extreme. My main characters are a teenaged boy and his girlfriend who's dealing with an unexpected pregnancy in secret. I have no experience with being a teenaged boy, it might go without saying, but I'm also not a mom, so I had to really research, ask questions, observe, and ask for feedback in the ways I was creating these characters. I wanted them to be believable, not just my best guesses as to what people might say, do, or feel in the situations I was putting my characters in.

message 24: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Hi, Rachelle! In a lot of ways, publishing individual poems and publishing a collection are quite similar indeed: rejection, rejection, rejection! If you're a writer (and I suspect that you are from this question), you're already familiar with that given in publishing, but I found that submitting a collection was like rejection on steroids. I submitted to so many contests and reading periods before I landed at Red Hen Press that I really wondered whether this book would ever be made. If there are few pages to go around in literary journals, there are even fewer book deals to go around in literary publishing. Keeping the book in circulation, despite my growing fear that it would never be accepted, was key.

The timeline on publishing a collection is also a great deal different from that of having work in a journal; Burn This House was signed to Red Hen in 2009, but it wasn't published until 2013. I believe my original pub date wasn't scheduled to be until 2014! That's a long time for a book to make landfall, but I was more than willing to wait if it meant that I could have this book come out from a great press.

If those are two downsides to publishing a collection versus individual poems, the upside is that all those poems that haven't found their way into journals finally find themselves on the page! When it comes to submitting to journals, I find that it's only the poems that really pack a punch, independent of the poems around them in a manuscript, that find homes. The quieter pieces or the pieces that benefit from context in a book-length work are likely to be rejected time after time. But once the book is in print, those quiet poems finally have a voice.

I can't tell you how many rejections I had on the poem "The Eye on the Sparrow," but it's probably upward of 50. I never placed it in a journal, but I always believed in that poem, and made sure it found its way into the book. I'm gratified today by how many reviewers have made special note of that poem. It's an affirmation after all this time!

message 25: by Kelly (last edited Apr 22, 2014 09:20AM) (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Hi, Sarah. First off, no need to apologize for any mistakes; your English is great! And thanks for the kind comments about the poems striking a chord with you.

Great question about favorite writers and influences! I read voraciously, and I have many favorite writers that remain contents throughout my reading life (Flannery O'Connor and Kazuo Ishiguro are two perennial favorites, but I'm sorry to say that I don't think I've managed to absorb any of their finer points). Influences, however, shift from writing project to writing project. When I was writing Burn This House, I was heavily influenced by Madeline DeFrees's book Magpie on the Gallows. I loved what she could do with her intellect and her wit, and I wanted to see if I could get any of her brand of smart humor into my work. I was also reading and rereading Linda McCarriston's Eva Mary at the time, trying to learn how to deal with darker subject matter in a deliberate, effective way. While working on Jacob Wrestling, perhaps my greatest influences were the films of David Lynch. And in the book I'm writing at the moment, I'm revisiting Marvin Bell's work, as well as John Berryman's and Lucia Perillo's.

message 26: by Marvin (new)

Marvin | 19 comments Kelly, how'd you come to the titles in the "Sin" and "Virtue" sections? Did you purposefully aim to write poems that exhibit each sin and virtue, or did you write poems that you later realized would work in such a way, or etc.? I've tried the former, just writing a poem that exemplifies its abstraction of a title--a common workshop sort of exercise, I guess--and the results have been sketchy. I often wonder how poets make that work.

message 27: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Great question, Marvin. A number of the poems that ended up in those sections came into this world under other titles. Greed, Sorrow, Patience, and Humility, to name a few, were all written before I decided I wanted them to have a relationship to that section of the book. I think it helped to write those poems independently, then say, "hey, this is really related to this concept!" and leave the title/content relationship for the reader to figure out. Sometimes, I have a tendency to get heavy-handed or to want to explain too much to the reader, so letting the reader extract the meaning from the dramatic situation and its tile is a nice way for me to get away from that bad habit. It's also a way I can highlight some of that paradoxical relationship between sin and virtue; Humility, for example, doesn't have a single humble character in it, but it does have humiliated characters, and humiliation is more a feature of pride than anything else, in my own take on the world.

In general, I try not to title poems before they're written. I'm pretty poor at coming up with titles, and it often takes many, many tries before I hit upon something that feels right. I think that, if I began with titles, I'd never get the poems going!

message 28: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Kelly,

Thanks! I thought maybe I was projecting my feelings on religion, because I have a hard time with poetry, glad that I was actually understanding your work, which I really enjoy!

message 29: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Bihlmayer | 81 comments Kelly,

What is next for you?

message 30: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Kelly, I see that you spend some time as a panelist at different conventions....

How do you manage to keep the content you speak on fresh, and what has been your favorite place to speak at so far?

message 31: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thanks, Deanna! Next up, I'm looking forward to releasing Jacob Wrestling next March, probably doing a good bit of touring around the country to promote that release. In the meantime, I've also been working on a novel (this one not a novel in verse but a novel as it is generally understood). I really got a taste for fiction after writing Jacob, and wanted to explore it in contemporary novel. I'm continuing to work on that book to get it into shape for potential publication. At the same time, I'm also writing a new book-length collection of poetry and revising the work as I go. This book takes a very different direction from Burn This House, but I like the idea of reinventing myself as an author in each book that I write. I'm in the beginning stages of sending out poems from this collection to literary journals, so it's the wait-and-wonder stage when I speculate as to whether the work is any good!

message 32: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thanks for this question, Lori. I very much enjoy speaking at conferences and being a panelist at events, because I feel I get to interact so much more with the attendees than I do at a reading of my own poems. I like to feel that I'm offering something helpful and useful to people, and I feel I can do that better in an interactive environment than in a performance. To that end, I really enjoy prepping new material for all of the conferences I go to. In my day job, I'm a teacher, so lesson planning and thinking about fresh and interactive was to present content is sort of in my DNA at this point, and when I get to combine my teaching and my love of poetry, that's the greatest.

I've had some unusual conference speaking experiences, including one in which a man took a phone call--at great volume and length--during a talk I was giving, but on the whole, I've had positive experiences. If I had to highlight a couple, I'd say among the best was the Press 53 Gathering of Poets in Winston-Salem, NC. The writers there were serious, but not self-serious, and it felt like a conference that built community, not rivalries. I loved the spirit there.

I also got a serious kick out of speaking at Geek Girl Con here in Seattle. It was my first time ever going to a "Con" per se, and seeing people dressed up as characters, geeking out over cultural obscurities, and generally having an awesome, uninhibited good time was a lot of fun. I felt like I'd jumped out of the literary world altogether and was in some kind of delightful parallel universe full of spandex and anime. I hope I get to go back this fall.

message 33: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (m_sarah) | 9 comments Kelly, thank you very much for your answer(s).
I really like your description of a convention, and a geeky one, from an "outsider" point of view.

You are taking time to participate in this discussion and talk to your readers, and it is awesome.

message 34: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thanks, Sarah. Are you a con-goer yourself? If so, I'd love recommendations for others to attend, even just as a spectator rather than a writer.

Also, did anyone here celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day yesterday? If so, would you like to share what poem you carried with you in your day? I always love hearing about the poems that move people.

message 35: by C.A. (new)

C.A.  (clarue) | 6 comments I went with Naomi Shihab Nye's "Fuel" ( the collection of the same name for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Probably would have taken the whole book if would have fit. Her work always speaks to me.

I think I saw somewhere that you were toting around a Wallace Steven's poem. What speaks to you about his work?

message 36: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
How did I miss Poem in Your Pocket day? I didn't even know that was a thing! Rats!

message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (m_sarah) | 9 comments I didn't know about Poem in Your Pocket Day either!

I was a con-goer. I'm not anymore but it's more because of the lack of con that would interest me (I live in France) or/and because of a coming-and-going agoraphobia.

Because I've lived in France my entire life and never crossed the Channel (well, I've crossed it, I've traveled, but not to attend a reunion of fans), for example, to go to one (although I might try Leaky Con, the Harry Potter one, if possible), I'm afraid I wouldn't know any to recommend to you.

Apparently there is a Book Expo America. But I heard about it because they recently featured only white male authors "by accident". Not much for wanting to go there but still. :)

If you ever come in France, there is "Le Festival d'Angoulême" which is a huge "bande dessinée" convention (how we call our type of graphic novels, but the con also features comics and other international publications).
It's during summer, I think, in the south of France. So the weather is warm and people are supposed to be warmer there too.

message 38: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
Well, sadly, today is the final day of our discussion with Kelly! What last minute questions do you have for her?

Kelly, thank you so much for hanging with us all week, and being such an awesome guest! It was an honor to host you and I wish you lots of success with the upcoming release!!

We'll be seeing each other on Twitter, I'm sure :)

message 39: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments A great choice for a poem in the pocket, C.A. I really admire Naomi Shihab Nye, and one could certainly do worse than to have a work of hers in the back pocket!

Lori, I'm glad we could introduce you to Poem in your Pocket Day! I have no idea who came up with such a holiday, but I fully endorse the idea of walking around with a poem and sharing it with others all day every April 24.

I myself didn't happen to wear any pockets on the 24th, but I if we consider my blog a kind of a metaphorical pocket, I did put up Wallace Stevens's "A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts" in honor of the holiday. I've always been a big fan of the kind of surreal quality that Stevens is able to produce in his poetry without being weird for the sake of pure weirdness. I think he's also a master at rhythm and sound--no syllable is wasted in his pieces, and to read one of his poems aloud is a delicious experience. (Seriously, try reading "Rabbit" aloud. It's like eating cake!)

message 40: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Sarah, many thanks for the convention advice! I've heard that the Leaky Con is a fun one, and I admit that I'm a huge Harry Potter devotee, so that may well be the one for me. And one day, I hope to go to BEA; my publisher does maintain an annual presence there, but I've yet to get to New York to see the whole extravaganza for myself. And the South of France in summertime? Yes, please!

message 41: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Thank you so, so much, everybody, for the great questions this week! You've made me feel so welcome, and I hope you got as much of a kick out of the discussion as I did. Even though this is the last day of the discussion here, I'm on goodreads quite a bit, and you can also always find me on Twitter (@kellydavio) if you ever want to chat!

message 42: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
BEA is pretty awesome and can be overwhelming for someone who's never been before... that's actually where I met Billy for the first time, Kelly!

I went three years in a row and missed the past one. Not sure if I'll make this one either which is kinda sad. I LOVE being around publishing people and authors. Between BEA and AWP... swoon!!!

message 43: by Peg (new)

Peg | 52 comments Hi Kelly. I'm REALLY late to the party here, and some of my questions have already been asked and answered. I'm wondering what your process is for writing poetry. Do your individual poems tend to flow out more or less complete, or do you build them bit by bit? And is your writing more a discipline or periods of inspiration? I know writers who sit down every day to write no matter what and others who write specifically when inspiration strikes. I don't really know any poets. How does writing poetry differ (or not) from writing fiction?

message 44: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Lori, I hope we'll get to meet in person at the next AWP conference! Will you be attending? I love the Twin Cities, and I'm so happy to have an excuse to get out there for the conference. One day, I'll make it to BEA!

message 45: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Peg, you're not too late at all; thanks for coming by!

My poetry process is pretty different from that of other poets I know. In the beginning, I built my poetry bit by laborious bit, and I know many poets who work that way. I'm not sure what's changed for me in the past few years, but these days, poems tend to take full draft-shape in one sitting. I generally meditate on an idea for a few days, thinking about what I might want to do with a concept or image that interests me, and when I'm ready, I sit down and write a draft more or less at once. It usually takes me three or four hours at the desk to get a complete draft down (I find that I lose track of time--4 hours on a poem feels like 15 minutes to me--so I have to set an alarm to bring me out of poetry land!), then I put the poem away for a few weeks before I start the revision process. Revising can take several months as I tinker and toy and figure out how to fix the flaws of the poem or how to ramp up its good features.

I know a lot of writers who sit down to write daily, and when I'm working on my fiction, I absolutely treat it as a job to show up to on a daily basis. I get my 700 words each day no matter what when it comes to fiction, and I find that very satisfying. Poetry is a little different somehow; I don't so much wait for inspiration as I wait to know I'm ready to execute on the idea I've been working with. If I start working on that idea before I know how to approach it, sometimes I find that I kill my own interest in the idea that got me going. With fiction, I have very little problem tossing away 2,000 words and trying again, but poetry somehow doesn't want to be caught twice.

I've often wondered why the fiction/poetry dichotomy work in this way for me, and I've developed a totally non-scientific theory that fiction and poetry use different parts of the brain; I hope that one day neuroscience will catch up with me. ;)

message 46: by Peg (new)

Peg | 52 comments Thanks for your answers, Kelly. There are several pieces that have stuck with me: One in Four of Us is Marked, No Good Thing, Sisters and Chastity. Did Sisters and Chastity come from your own experience? If so, do you mind sharing more about that?

message 47: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (kellydavio) | 18 comments Well, I know we're officially done with the discussion, but I just had to pop back in to answer one last great question! I guess I'm a rule-breaker by nature.

To answer your question, Peg, yes, those poems are from lived experience, at least in bulk. In my early 20s, I spent some time living with a Catholic religious community out in rural England. It wasn't a convent, exactly, but a community run by the Sisters of the Assumption in an amazing old Tudor manor house in the middle of nowhere. I and other students from the US were staying in the house during a period of overseas study, and while we lived somewhat apart from the religious community itself, the sisters and their way of life were a big feature of our lives there. Sadly, the most unhappy parts of "Chastity" are true; my friend from childhood, who was also living at the manor house at the same time as I was, was killed in a car accident not long after our time in England. She was survived by her partner, but she had not come out as a lesbian to her family or many of her friends before she died. I thought it was particularly tragic that she never got to fully express her full identity in life because of the strictness of her family and our religious culture's repression of who she was.

message 48: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 9995 comments Mod
I went in 2013 because it was in Boston which is an easy 5 hour drive from me. But this year I bailed due to the distance. I'm hoping to save enough to make it to awp'15... and I'll definitely let you know if I make it !!!

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