Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Q&A: Poet Caroline Hagood

In my meanderings through life, I often catch myself getting distracted by unexpected beauty and wit, especially when I step my toes into the puddles of joy that are writers' blogs.

One writer I discovered quite by accident, Caroline Hagood, has graced the electronic pages of this blog, back when she was still blogging at Culture Sandwich, where she posted poems, book reviews, interviews, and thoughts on art and culture in general. These days, she’s in a Ph.D. program at Fordham University, but she recently had her first book of poetry, Lunatic Speaks published by FutureCycle Press. As the Elephant’s Bookshelf blog begins its new incarnation as a brief rest stop for writers and readers of all stripes, I thought it fitting to allow a poet to deliver the invocation.

EB: How long have you been writing poetry?

CH: I've "written" since I was a dyslexic kid who couldn't read or write for years after everyone else, and my mom was kind and patient enough to write down my early "songs" that only she and my dad could possibly love.

EB: Do you follow a consistent process in your work or do you vary things as the ideas come?

CH: I try to type things into my electronic graveyard--what I call my computer file that's longer than I should ever share, which contains many unformed poem thoughts--every day. Then I try to form a finished poem out of this wreckage once a week. If anyone ever finds this password-protected document, I will feel very embarrassed and very sorry for them.

EB: Much of your work comes across as very personal. Do you fear you expose too much of yourself in your poetry or is there still a layer or two between you and your audience?

CH: There are definitely some layers there. I think people often assume that every (especially first person) poem is autobiographical, but, as others far sharper than I have noted, although there is always some kind of truth there, it just may not be conventionally factual. It would be like reading someone's dreams and thinking they all happened to the dreamer. For instance, although I wrote about it in my collection, I have never received a letter from a dinosaur, although I am very open to it.

And, yes, I fear that I expose too much of myself every day. My whole life is basically one big emotional risk, but I'm usually glad I took it.

EB: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Caroline.

CH: My pleasure.


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