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, February 17, 2016

Four Questions for Nikki Allen

Nikki Allen scribbles poems on cocktail napkins, receipts, and/or any other blank space she can get her pen on. She’s been getting on stages to read her work for over 15 years in various places that include St. Louis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Seattle, war protests, music festivals, charity events, backyards, and art openings. She is the author of numerous books, including Gutter of Eden, My Darling Since, and Quite Like Yes. Her work has appeared in The New Yinzer, Crash, Open Thread Regional Review Vol. 2, out of nothing, Profane Journal (Pushcart Prize nominee '14/'15), and Encyclopedia Destructica. Allen has also contributed vocals to tracks by recording artists Poogie Bell ("Question Song") and Jack Wilson ("NYC"). She loves couscous and garlic breath.

DS: Why do you write poetry?

NA: The short answer: I don't have a choice.

The not-so-short answer: I've always been a writer. Page & pen were my escape in childhood--stories that conquered notebooks and fell out onto restaurant place mats, receipt paper, any blank space. Near the end of high school I started writing poetry. Maybe it was first-time love that pushed me to it, or maybe the collection of e.e. cummings poems I hauled around. Maybe it was just a matter of time. But it happened. Poetry was the mainline to the feeling. I felt so much that I wanted to get to it as quickly as possible. There is a relief in getting it out, putting it down--it's hard to describe.

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

NA: It doesn't have a name. It's a thing, a moment, turn of the knife in a phrase. Whatever it is pulls me to it as soon as I read it. My body disappears.

DS: What are your current writing projects?  

NA: I'm writing new things and editing older pieces. I hope to have a book ready to go this year.

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

NA: Continued growth. Continued dialogue. My hope is that people continue to use poetry as a means of expression, truth-telling, protest, release.

Nikki's Books:

My Darling Since
Gutter of Eden
ballet: exits & entries
birds at 4 a.m.

Quite Like Yes
ligaments of light tigering the shoulders

Some of Nikki's Poems Online:

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