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“The poem is an organism one can inhabit”

Danielle Pafunda

Sometimes the speed and volume of the language overflows its container. Or, since my poems are voice-driven, I often think: what (plat)form does this speaker require to deliver their speech? Sometimes they need the emphatic disruption to logic provided by line breaks and stanzas, sometimes the furious liquid state of prose. 

In The Dead Girls Speak, I conceived of the poems as coming over an erratic connection. Like a worm line from the underworld, running through the soil alongside roots. A landline! That led to sparser poems than I usually write. They declare what they need to and ring off.

[…] You enter a poem and wander around inside it. There’s not necessarily a rule about how to proceed through it. You neither start at its beginning, nor finish at its end. You inhabit it, you climb its stairs, and maybe it’s haunted, maybe it’s housing exhibits, maybe it’s filled with memories. It’s a time machine; it preserves a live and multi-sensory intensity. It has a pulse. The poem is an organism one can inhabit. Maybe like a mother, or a monster. Maybe like a planet, a universe, something with a lot of fibers. A phenomenological space that could otherwise only exist in its moment as connective tissue between sentient figures.

—Danielle Pafunda interviewed about The Dead Girls Speak in Unison at Bayou Magazine

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