…with Denise Weuve

Ariana:

What can you tell us about The Truck Driver’s Daughter?

Denise:

I once heard a poet say at a reading that she committed the cardinal sin that all poets make with their first books, they are far to confessional, too self indulgent.  So I welcome the world into my sin.  Every poem starts with a truth I have known in my life, where the poems go from there was completely up to their wont, some revision, and a bit of technique.

Ariana:

What’s your favorite Halloween costume? Have you ever dressed in this costume?
Denise:

The classic, vampire.  I have dressed in this costume, and more often than not, not for Halloween.

Ariana:

Are you working on any new projects? If so, tell us about them.

Denise:

I am always working on something.  Outside of my new magazine, Wherewithal, there is a manuscript in the works, In Medusa’s Shadow.  The book of poems is looking at how we, as women, become monsters through the myths that surrounds her and in return, us.  Are we the creation of other people’s words, deeds, or are we born as we are, and regardless of struggle to deny must learn to embody it.  Some of the lighter questions that haunt me.

Ariana:

What do you love about poetry?

Denise:

The best way I can answer that is with Anne Sexton, “My friend, my friend I was born doing reference work in sin and born confessing it.”  In that one line from “Mercy for the Greedy” you are welcomed into a world that wants you to take your coat off and stay a spell. The amazing part is with that line you need to know more, as much as want to know more.  That is what I love about poetry.  It is a world that welcomes and engages.

Ariana:

You’re an editor, an MFA candidate, a writer and a teacher. How do you do it?

Denise:

I really do not know.  Magically it all seems to get done.  I get these ideas in my head and suddenly they become urgent and need to be done, so I jumped in, place my focus and get to the business of doing them. There have been times when I am grading, writing, editing for a friend, and reading submissions all in the same hour. At those times, I frustrate myself by taking too much on, and more importantly those in my life, but I never regret adding to the plate, as it were.  Not when it is poetry.  Of course in my Utopia I would be locked up in my home simply writing all day, every day.

Ariana:

What’s your favorite song? Why?

Denise:

I love music, and think it infuses itself into poetry, more often consciously than not.  Look at Nick Cave I think he is the perfect example of the poet-musician. He’s amazing, and everyone should hear him, at least once.  As much as I hold him as a standard, the originator is Cohen.   My favorite song is “Hallelujah” particularly when sung by Jeff Buckley, though I have rarely heard a version that did not move me.  Leonard Cohen, the writer, did an amazing job of using biblical allusion to express longing, one of my favorite themes in poetry.

Ariana:

What’s it like choosing work as an editor?

Denise:

It is the golden coin with two sides.  The bad side comes when you have to decline people.  It’s hard, but a great magazine has a vision and is able to say, no, even when it is work sent by poets you personally know and love.  It makes me feel monstrous.  But I am so clear on my fits vision for the magazine, that becomes a paying market in a year or so, so the work I take has to either strengthen that vision enlighten it.

The good side and the far more important side is the side that allows you to discover talent that you did not know prior.  Some around for quite some time while others are relatively new to poetry.  When they are good, they wake you up as an editor and make you reread their work for pure joy, and make you, at least a little; jealous you did not write the piece yourself.  I felt that way when I recently read a piece.  I knew it had to be read by others, and realized the bad I deal with, as an editor, is irrelevant.

Ariana:

Do you have a mentor outside of your MFA program? If yes, how does that person influence you?

Denise:

Not really, but I am okay with that I prefer inspirers.  My life is filled with those at every turn.  Teaching teenagers (16-18) I get a lot of unexpected inspiration.  Last year, during creative writing class, a student responded to a writing prompt called “What Eve Knows” with “that snake was flirting with me,” and I thought, dang that opens up a whole world of possibilities.  That is what inspiration does at its best; it opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Ariana:

Why do you feel you needed to tell the story of The Truck Driver’s Daughter?

Denise:

Something internal made me write them and then somehow they came together in almost story like mode.  Need to tell the story?  Maybe, but more accurately something far more guttural then need that causes books of poetry like this.  What it is, I wish I knew.  I wish I could bottle it, and make sure every poem got to this end game.

Ariana:

What punctuation mark best describes your personality?

Denise:

~

Yes I know it is the tilde, but it is really so much more.  It makes letters stand out with accentuation, has comparable mathematical equivalency, is a fallen man trying to get up, looks like a lovely hyphen waving to words, “hey come here, I want to talk to you”

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