Poet Heather Christle, author of What Is Amazing, brought her charm and enthusiasm to The New School poetry forum. She read new work, as well as work from her most recent collection of poems, which seeks to understand the interplay of the world and consciousness. The collection spans bravado and fear, love and mortality, disappointment and desire. The forum was introduced and moderated by our own Mark Bibbins, whose preamble was admired post-discussion by David Lehman, Coordinator of the MFA in Poetry at The New School:
"Mark introduced Heather Christle by saying that he was so happily immersed in her poetry that he felt as if he were 'an intern at CNN—Christle News Network.' The audience at the poetry forum shared in that enthusiasm as the poet read new poems with arresting titles—'Not Much More Room in the Cemetery,' 'Heave-Ho,' 'Dick,' 'Keep in Shape,' 'In the Dumps,' plus a few special requests. Christle commented on her penchant for arson imagery and impressed us all with the surprising twists that her poems take, as when, in 'Nature Poem,' she wonders about 'the possibility of ant masturbation.' The verdict: probably not, because they don't love themselves enough—they love each other."
“Fearlessness in poetry is overrated," said Christle, in response to an audience question about fearlessness in poetry. "The time I really admire fearlessness is when it takes me to dark, scary places. Once I wrote a poem one word at a time. Every day I’d write a word and never think more about it. I was making very small decisions, and soon logic flowed out of the words. Sometimes the poems fall flat and sometimes you have something magnificent.”
“When The Trees The Trees came out, I set it up that people could call me at certain times of the day and I would read my poems out to them. Hundreds of people called. I got to read poems while living my life. It was wonderful. I took a risk and it worked out okay.”
How important is the cadence and rhythm of words?
“I do hear rhythm as I’m writing a poem. After I write, I read them aloud and start tweaking its rhythm. With each book a rhythm develops and it channels me a while.”
And a final word of wisdom?
“I don’t think my poems are brave or fearless. I think they’re filled with ravenous curiosity.”
Heather Christle is the author of What Is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), The Difficult Farm (Octopus Books, 2009), and The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books, 2011), which won the 2012 Believer Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. She has taught poetry at Antioch College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Emory University, where she was the 2009-2011 Poetry Writing Fellow. She is the Web Editor for jubilat and frequently a writer in residence at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. A native of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, she lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.