ouroborosreview

Page 25

featured poet

Ouroboros talks to Ingrid Steblea, a writer and artist who lives in Western Massachusetts. Ingrid has had work published in many literary journals and competition success: her short story ‘Trepanning’ was a finalist in the 2001 Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award and the wonderful poem ‘Bess Houdini Contemplates Her Marriage, 1921’ won the 17th Annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest in 2008. She has just put together her first manuscript.

\ Ingrid Steblea

H

ow long have you been writing poetry? more and revised more. Well, you could spend For those of us just getting started, years performing this perfectionistwould you outline your journey to first compulsive dance of delay; at some point you manuscript? simply have to pack the poems off and be done I’ve been writing poetry since I could write at all, with them. I piled them up in a stack, agonized which means I’ve accumulated a breathtaking over sequencing and titles until my ears bled, quantity of evidence against me. I still have in my asked brilliant people I love to tell me what possession a blue spiral-bound notebook filled they thought about the sequencing and titles, with handwritten poems about “silence killing bled more, gritted my teeth, squeezed my eyes everyone” in the “slums of old New London,” and shut, looked the other way, and released it off Charon carrying the dead over the River Cocytus. into the world. Now there's nothing to do but Quoting my eight year-old wait for it to make its way self: “Carrier of the ‘There’s a certain distillation, an back to me, battered and bodiless, row the boat to bruised, rejection slips deliver us: Land of death.” immediacy that a poem demands. pinned to its shattered To sketch the outline of You are dropped into that character’s limbs with carpet tacks. my journey to first world for just a moment, and released In your poem 'Bess manuscript: years of again’ Houdini Contemplates Her reading poems, writing Marriage, 1921', you create poems, revising poems, sorting poems into piles the inner world of Bess's character with of "completed poems," "poems requiring precision and imagination. What was it about extensive revision and rehabilitation before they this character that led you to explore her can be considered complete," and "poems world? What thoughts in general do you have refusing all attempts at rehabilitation and about developing characters in poetry? requiring punishment". Years of whacking I wrote about Bess because the idea of that poems over the head with a shovel; years of marriage fascinates me. The women who burying poems in the backyard beneath the hosta. marry soldiers, policemen, firemen, lion Finally I had enough poems in the "completed" tamers, stuntmen – I don't know how they do pile to constitute a manuscript. I didn't trust it, so it. That's a type of bravery, of heroism, that I I shoveled a lump of them into a closet, another aspire to but do not posses. If I had my lump under the bed, and I read more and wrote druthers and the neighbors wouldn't call the ouroboros review 25


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