About Heather Knox
Heather Knox is a teaching artist, editor and poet. Though prone to wandering, she currently calls the Midwest home. She holds a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Columbia Poetry Review, [PANK], decomP magazinE, and Word Riot.
Sam: Can you tell me a little bit about Dowry Meat (Words Dance, 2015)?
Heather Knox: There are two parts to Dowry Meat — one with a whole ton of qualifiers and the other more straightforward. VIMVIMRECOIL, part one, is comprised of mostly prose-style poem-fragments contributing to a post-apocalyptic/surrealist/
The second part, OPEN : WRITHE, are your poemy-poems, a lyric sequence; that is, poems with line breaks and, I’m told, some heartbreak. Allusions run the gamut from Lorde to Pretty Little Liars to Black Canary. But it’s a lot darker than that makes it sound, I think. I write about the body. And relationships: real and imagined, in whole or part, un/requited, between people, the ones we have with ourselves in the quiet after. There’s some sex, if you’re into that, and some whiskey.
SS: What drove you to write this book (or if there are specific poems that come to mind)?
HK: I know most poets could say it, but I base what I write on experience—that is, something I’ve experienced or observed is the seed and it grows wild from there, like ivy you train to grow up a trellis and once it’s run out of trellis, where does it go? Where ever the hell it wants. I’m not a gardener so maybe it’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s where OPEN : WRITHE as a whole came from: things experienced (by me, by others).
VIMVIMRECOIL was a different sort of beast. I play a lot of RPGs (tabletop with oddly-shaped dice) and I enjoy some speculative literature, sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy TV series, etc. The summer between my graduate program years, VIMVIMRECOIL started bubbling out of me. I went into the program without a “project” I was working on and I think I got self-conscious about that fact. Everyone had a project, what the hell was I doing? Eventually I was able to cast aside self-doubt and go for it. I let it get weird. My colleagues were as supportive as they were bewildered: a gorgeous cocktail.
The title, Dowry Meat, is actually a phrase from a poem that I decided not to include in the collection about the Alien Queen’s role as captive in AvP. Somehow, at the end of it all, that phrase stuck with me.
SS: What are five adjectives you would use to sum up the work?
HK: Gritty. Nostalgic. Raw. Autumnal. Sexy.
SS: What drink would you say best characterizes the work?
HK: Despite having mentioned whiskey earlier, Madame D—’s choice of booze would be gin, and I’d have to agree with her.
SS: What are you working on now?
HK: I’ve started my second book, though it’s really too early to see where that might end up. My divorce will likely make an appearance, as these things often do. Honestly, I’m still a bit stunned to see my first one gone to press (and so quickly!) as I’m writing this on the day of its release. I feel like a new mother who can only talk about her baby’s tiny fingers and toes and what’s in their diaper. I haven’t given much thought yet to getting knocked up again.
Madamme D—’s Nightcap
Inspiration: When I think gin, I immediately think of botanicals, and when I think lumber yard, my mind immediately recalls the smell of sawdust, of open air and loud noises. After a day in a place like that—where so much seems to be going on—I would want nothing more than quiet and peace. This is the drink, I would hope, that would help bring that calm at the end of the day.
- 2 oz. gin
- .5 oz violet liqueur
- .5 oz lime juice
- ginger ale
Method: Pour gin, violet liqueur, and lime juice into a highball glass with ice. Top with ginger ale.