Spotlight: Locked Horn Press (part 3 of 8)
Coldfront is featuring responses from Locked Horn Press’ Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics where poets respond to broad questions regarding the relationship between gender and poetics. When Traci Brimhall was asked how gender influences her poetics, she replied:
My experience of the world is certainly shaped by my race, gender, age, and economic situation. Of course I’m more than my demographic in- formation, but those things certainly shape my experiences and therefore my poems. It wasn’t something I was conscious of at first, but the more I noticed people responded to my work in a gendered context, the more curious I was about how gender affected my work. For instance, one reviewer responded to my book, Our Lady of the Ruins, by talking about the absence of men. I thought I’d written a book about women, and the reviewer thought I wrote a book about the absence of men—two very different things in my opinion.
Becoming aware that many people see certain styles or subject matters as the provenance of women troubled me because I did see so much of what I was writing falling into those categories—motherhood, the body, domestic spaces, the continual risk of sentiment. But rather than eschew such things and try to eradicate them from my poetry, I tried to transgress in these areas even more to allow for a multiplicity of experiences rather than making the work gender- less. There is no such thing as a universal poem and to attempt one by stripping away one’s identity is foolish. If the universal is even to be attempted, it should be through the uniqueness of one’s lived experience—the specific emotions, thoughts, and music of a life, and that life has a gender.
An excerpt from Traci’s poem, “Somniloquy” is available to preview in New England Review. The poem appears in its entirety in Read Women: An Anthology.
Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Slate, The Believer, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014. She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the King/Chávez/Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
* For part 2 please click here.