Kristina Marie Darling is the author of twenty books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014 (BlazeVOX Books, 2014). Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. Her most recent book, The Sun & the Moon, was just released by BlazeVOX Books.
I’m curious about the formal constraints that organize this book. Reading the linked prose poetry sections which are filled with recurring imagery and language, I was reminded of the musicality and looping patterns of sestinas. Can you please talk about your use of form in this book?
That’s a great question, and I love the comparison you draw between the prose poems and sestinas. I value the sense of unity that these inherited forms provide, especially within a book-length manuscript. Within my own practice, though, I often have a difficult time rendering my ideas, imagery, and language compatible with forms like the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina. I enjoy inventing my own formal constraints, since this seems to give me the best of both worlds: the unity and sense of order associated with writing in form, and the freedom to discover the poem or sequence as I write it. To make impulsive and intuitive choices, rather than striving for loyalty to the formal constraint.
When writing The Sun & the Moon, I was unsure at first what form the book would take, since the sequence began in fragments. I was drawn to the little prose boxes you see in the book because they worked in tension with the chaos and violence in the content of the manuscript. As I drafted the book, I wanted to see how long I could sustain the tension between order and chaos, between the uniform appearance of the poems and the way that the images and motifs slowly changed shape. I hope that the relationship between form and content will spark the reader’s curiosity, and add to the possibilities for interpretation.
The sections that I felt most drawn to were Appendix B and C—though they were made more meaningful by the first section. Appendix B seemed to act as a kind of document, as if a diary destroyed in a fire by soot, water damage, erasures. Appendix C functioned for me as if some kind of relationship field notes—can you again, please speak of how these structures and forms operate in your larger project? How did you arrive at using these forms and structures?
I appreciate your careful reading of the book’s Appendix B and C. Appendix B actually consists of erasures of the earlier section, but I love your comparison to a diary that has been destroyed by soot or fire damage. I arrived at these fragmented literary forms after seeing just how visually uniform the first section appeared. So in this respect, your comparison between the invented constraints of the prose poems and a sestina sequence is especially perceptive.
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