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, November 25, 2015

Four Questions for Meghan Tutolo

Meghan Tutolo lives in Pittsburgh, PA, where she earned her M.F.A. in Poetry from Chatham University and her B.A. in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. Skilled in the trade of romancing olives and pasta, Meghan works as writer, editor, and designer for an Italian foods company and also teaches composition at her alma mater. Her work has appeared in journals such as Nerve CowboyChiron ReviewThe Pittsburgh Post GazetteArsenic Lobster and Main Street Rag. Her first chapbook of poems, Little As Living, was published in September 2014.    

DS: Why do you write poetry?

MT: Because I have to. Because from such an early age I felt things so tremendously that I had to get them out. I didn't understand myself and barely had words. That's the magic of poetry for me: it makes all the stuff inside a little more tangible. It really boils down to energy. And though poetry isn't my only outlet, it's the most efficient at helping me to connect with others on that plane, relate.

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

MT: Basically? I'm looking for someone who gets it. I can't be anymore forthright than that. I'm just looking for people with voices and experiences that don't make me feel so damn alone. It's those people I can trust to guide me to new perspectives and understanding. If I read your work and it feels like my guts fell out, then I know I'm on the right page.

DS: Describe your works in progress?

MT: I'm working on another manuscript. I haven't decided whether it's another chapbook or a full length. There is something about a full-length collection that scares the shit out of me. I could barely get through the editing process of my chapbook with the constant changes and rearranging. It's hard to nail those pieces down in time, as everything shifts around them.

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

MT: This question reminds me of records. They've made a hell of a comeback. People are paying attention... to some things. You know, I want people to listen again. To open their minds, put down their magic rectangles and pay attention. I sound like an 80 year old, but phones worry me. No one can read a paragraph anymore. Maybe that's why poetry will prevail, the capturing of those small moments, condensation.

Meghan's chapbook: 

Meghan's website: 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Four Questions for Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien is a playwright, poet, and librettist. His play, The Body of an American, will receive an off-Broadway premiere at Primary Stages, in a co-production with Hartford Stage, in 2016. O'Brien's third collection of poetry, New Life, will be published by CB Editions in London in 2015, and by Hanging Loose Press in Brooklyn in 2016. His second collection, Scarsdale, was published by CB Editions in 2014, and in the US by Measure Press in 2015. War Reporter, his debut collection, was published in 2013 by CB Editions, and by Hanging Loose Press in the US. War Reporter received the 2013 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Foundation's Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, both in the UK. 

DS: Why do you write poetry?

DO: I simply always have written them. At least since I was twelve or so. Life almost always feels overwhelming, in terms of the sadness, occasionally the joy, the randomness and incomprehensibility of everything. There’s little else to do with these feelings than to make something of it, at least that’s how it seems to me, and for whatever reason writing is how I like to make things.

I write plays and prose too, but poetry is what I return to when the emotions are most intense, and usually the most private. My first poem was about my brother’s suicide attempt, and now almost thirty years later I’m still essentially writing that poem over and over again. The longer you last, of course, the more traumas you have to live through. So there’s no shortage of material. Clearly I’m a gloomy sort.

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

DO: I hope to find honesty and intimacy. I want to feel honored by what the poet has revealed to me, even if it’s not a so-called narrative or confessional poem, even if I don’t “understand” it. In fact I don’t really want to understand it. I want to feel moved by the poem. I want to feel I know the poet now.

DS: Describe your work in progress.

DO: I’m publishing my second collection of poetry derived from the work of my friend, war reporter Paul Watson, entitled New Life—what I’m describing lately as “poems of  Syria and Hollywood,” as the book deals with Paul’s time covering the war in Syria, and our concurrent, tragicomic attempts to sell an American cable TV drama about journalists covering Syria. I’ve received a Guggenheim Fellowship this year to write a play for Center Theatre Group here in Los Angeles that will be, in many ways, an adaptation of New Life.

I’m also writing a new play for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater in NYC on the history of guns in America, and a new play for Portland Center Stage that may or may not be about Sasquatch, and may or may not involve music and song. My play about Paul Watson, The Body of an American, opens at Hartford Stage this winter before running off-Broadway with Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theater. There are separate productions of this play next spring in Chicago and Washington, DC. And I’ve been chipping away at a short memoir of childhood in Scarsdale, New York.

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

DO: I don’t know that I have any hopes. I like poetry just as it is, and I trust that people will always write poetry because they have to, and they enjoy it, and that people will read poetry for the same reasons. I don’t care about styles or fashions, what poetry “is” or “should” be.

Perhaps I do have one selfish hope: that what I’ve written, and still might write, can be a comfort to people the way I’ve been comforted by other people’s poems. 

Dan's Books:

New Life
War Reporter
The Body of an American

Some of Dan's Poems Online: