The poem is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see--it is, rather, a light by which we may see--and what we see is life.

Robert Penn Warren

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Four Questions for Ruth Foley

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for
Wheaton College. Her work
appears in numerous web and
print journals, including 
The Bellingham Review
and Sou’wester.
She is the author of two chapbooks,
Dear Turquoise (dancing girl press)
Creature Feature (ELJ Publications), and serves as Managing Editor forCider Press ReviewYou can find her online at her blog Five Things, or on Twitter or Facebook.

DS: Why do you write poetry?

RF: This seemed like such an easy question to answer until I tried to answer it. The shortest version (which isn’t terribly short, I’m afraid) is that poetry is the art form that addresses most of the things that make me tick. It’s the most condensed form of humanity I’ve found. Also, I trained as a classical vocalist when I was younger and studied a lot of music, and poetry carries a lot of music within it, for obvious reasons. I love its sonic qualities, its rhythms, and its obsessive, glorious attention to detail. Poetry is also a bit of a chameleon—my favorite poems look and sound effortless but are in fact intricately crafted.

DS: What do you hope to find in poems written by other people?

RF: Stuff to steal. Moves that make me lose my breath. Some piece of language that I would never have thought of in a million years but which feels perfect. Illumination. Shadow. The occasional sex scene.

DS: Describe your works in progress.

RF: I’m in the final-for-now stages of putting together a manuscript that mixes my old obsessions with my new ones. It’s a watery manuscript—I grew up spending my summers on the Rhode Island coast, and the ocean is such an essential aspect of my nature that I can’t escape it. And don’t particularly want to. I’m fascinated with human failings and human fears, and I’m obsessed with the idea of place and space, and those interests are all there. I’ve also started moving into exploring ways to include my belief in the essential value of life. I’m a feminist and a humanist, and I also believe very strongly in the importance of the natural world. I love the fuzzy and sweet, but I also love the creepy and crawly and the creatures that make a lot of people recoil. I want to advocate for the deep, deep beauty of the world while simultaneously exploring hopelessness and loneliness. But, you know. No pressure.

DS: What are your hopes for the future of poetry?

RF: World peace? Or maybe just continual exploration of the human condition. When I say that, I mean all humans, with as diverse a swath of backgrounds as there are poets. I make an effort to read poets from as varied a group as I can think of—varied in terms of sex, sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background...whatever I can do. Some of the poetry speaks to me and some of it doesn’t and all of it helps me understand myself as a poet just a bit more. I see it as part of my responsibility and privilege as an editor to do so, but it’s also opened up my writing in ways I couldn’t have anticipated and may not be able to explain. My hope for the future of poetry is that more and more writers and editors open themselves up to experiences that don’t align with their own. There’s no downside to doing so—nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Ruth's Chapbooks:

Some of Ruth's Poems Online:

Three poems from Creature Feature
Poems (with audio) at The Poetry Storehouse
 Three poems at Front Porch

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