Saturday, 16 April 2011
Poetry Month: Melissa Studdard - Six Weeks to Yehidah
Melissa Studdard's middle-grade novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, will be released by All Things That Matter Press in late 2011. Her poetry, short stories, reviews, essays and academic articles have appeared widely in journals such as Chelsea, Boulevard, Gradiva, The American Book Review, Literal Latte, Poets and Writers, Connecticut Review, Dash, The Smoking Poet, and elsewhere. She's a Book-Reviewer-At-Large for The National Poetry Review, a contributing editor for both The Criterion and Tiferet (for which she also hosts the blogtalk radio program Tiferet Talk), and a professor at Lone Star College-Tomball. "Vagabond" was originally published (in a slightly different format) in the 2011 edition of the Austin International Poetry Anthology.
TTQ - What role do you see poetry playing in an increasingly digital world, and do you feel the e-book will ultimately take the place of the printed page?
Melissa Studdard - The digital world makes more poetry accessible, brings poets together, provides new formats for poems, and exposes new people to poetry. It's a wonderful thing! People post poems on Facebook and tweet quotes from poems. Poetry collections can be downloaded at the click of a finger. New and innovative online journals set poems to music and accompany them with images and sound clips and trailers of poems read aloud. I only see this as increasing interest in poetry and expanding the ways in which it can be enjoyed. Yet, I do not feel these new presentations will take the place of the printed page. There is a very social aspect to the internet, and just as we crave "quality" alone time with those people in our lives who we love, so true lovers of poetry and books will probably always crave intimacy with the printed page. I see more and more that people are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by their computers, I-phones, kindles and so forth - exhausted from staring always at a screen - and they are taking time off - a few days, a few weeks - to unplug and reconnect to their inner batteries. When people do this, there are certain things they will turn to - nature, time with loved ones, and the printed page - tangible experiences that refresh and recharge them. To say that the kindle could supplant the printed book is as ridiculous as saying that texting sexy messages could take the place of sex. Well, okay, not quite as ridiculous, but you get the point. No matter how much people enjoy the auxiliaries, they're always going to want the real thing.
Again at the precipice,
we stood, a torrent of wind,
a rainstorm of love, a dark
and brooding lick of thunder.
Just one slip of the foot
and our gypsy hearts would be
rolling again. While the others
made babies, we birthed the jagged
edges of cliffs, the imperceptible
blue of sky, the spokes of caravan,
swaddled it all in chainmail,
and left it there to fend for itself –
a modern love, birthed but not nurtured,
cherished but not maintained. You
dressed me in bells like a cat, and when
I danced, you dropped scarlet
and lilac scarves at my feet,
you doused me in the thick sweat
of wine, you stained me henna
with your rough and unread palms,
loving me the only way your Bedouin
heart could, like a plectrum kissing
a lyre, strumming magic out of the silence
only as often and for as long
as our voices could lift each other in song.