Ask The Author: Suzanne Richardson

Two Poems and this interview from Suzanne Richardson. Prepare yourself.

1. Who would you curse? How would you do it?

I’m really not into cursing anyone. I’m not interested in focusing bad energy on anyone. I’m interested in exploring deep seeded anger (which growing up in the south was very taboo for a woman to have) but that’s the core emotion behind the act or desire of “cursing” someone. If I were interpreting this question more loosely I would say I’m interested in cursing at Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan, and I’d probably be really pedestrian about it and use the “F” word.

2. Where did these poems come from?

I think at the time of writing them I felt really betrayed which had caused a lot of anger I didn’t know how to deal with. They came out pretty quickly, as a pair. It was important to me to acknowledge both sides of the coin, both someone that is cursed and someone that is cursing someone else. There are real consequences to wishing someone harm even if you don’t believe in curses per say. I’ve certainly had moments where it feels like everything is working against me, and there’s no seeming rhyme or reason. I’ve always had a fascination with the occult. There is something comforting about occult narratives that explain pain or misfortune, often because there are clear rituals to break the bonds of misery. My French Canadian grandmother was rumored to be psychic or highly intuitive. The 7th daughter of the 7th daughter bla bla bla. She was told by her mother not to speak up about what she knew/saw and over the years repressed it, but there are still stories about her “knowing.” I’ve been reading a really old book called “The Occult” by Colin Wilson. There’s a chapter that suggests poets have a close relationship with the occult. Wilson talks with poet Robert Graves about the idea. Wilson claims Graves said, “all poems are written in the fifth dimension.” Wilson also calls what poets have an amplified “Faculty X” which is an enhanced perception, at once creative and occult. There are really fundamental connections between poetry and the occult. Poetry is a language ritual and so is a spell and both are used to summon things, evoke things.The creative process often requires deep concentration, going into trance-like states, and many people with occult gifts speak of the same. Both the occultist and the poet reach into a world not accessed by most and pull things out for people to examine. I like playing with the connection.

3. How has nonfiction writing influenced your work?

Nonfiction is great because it can be really literal. I write poems about things or emotions I can’t be literal about. I feel like it’s pretty widely regarded that poetry attempts to articulate everything that prose can’t. I was talking with a friend that it seems like poetry is having a very literal moment, but I really like poetry that transports me. Writing nonfiction helps me process a different way to tell something. Nonfiction feels like it’s about duration and revelation…stick with it, and you’ll find something, know something. Poetry is an assault on the senses pointing to something more.

4. Is that girl poison?

The occult always feels highly feminized and equating women with poison feels accurate to the world I’m evoking, or even scarier, to the world we live in right now. There is no question about it that women suffer from being bad to each other often in subtle passive aggressive ways and what’s more passive aggressive than sitting in your home and cursing someone from a distance? To say a girl is poison isn’t what I’m getting at, (Bell Biv Devoe thinks that) but to say women can feel toxic to one another is something I often explore in my work. When women are bad to each other it can feel like cannibalism, eaten by your own kind.

5. Are you always digging in the dirt, finding the places that hurt?

In a word, yes. I’m a real Lydia Deetz like that. It’s something I’ve had to really accept about myself over the years after trying to fight it. I am a bit broody and serious. I’m interested in darkness and pain, and the fact is those things are just as natural as light and joy. I think I tried to emphasize the natural in these poems for that reason. I think it’s natural to want to curse and it’s natural to feel cursed.

6. What would it take to break one of your curses?

Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie Devoe.

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