In honor of National Poetry Month, we’re interviewing several poets and asking them a few questions about poetry. Our third featured poet is Joanna C. Valente! Stay tuned all month for more featured poets.
1) Why poetry?
Poetry often centers around a moment or idea in a way that is much more concise than fiction, which lends itself to brutal honesty in a way that no other writing genres do not. While poetry can be narrative and tell a story, it is more more fragmented, which also works similarly to how memory and the brain does, in many ways mimicking the way humans think. The rhythm, whether blank verse or otherwise, sounds like the heart. There is something beautiful to that, creating art that mimics the brain and heart.
2) Do you feel like poetry is more or less important & relevant today?
Right now, I would say moreso, since we are in a tumultuous political climate where what we say and do truly matters. It always does, of course, but people are paying attention and looking to artists, writers, and public figures for answers and clarity. Poetry is short and fast, which lends itself easily to readings, Instagram images, and fast readings. In many ways, because of the way the internet has changed people’s intellectual digestion, it seems complimentary.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and a thinker.
4) Tell us about one lesser-known contemporary poet who you’d like more people to know about. (share a hyperlink if possible)
5) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
excerpt from WERNER CATZOG (a collection I’m writing)
Master put me in a box with bars.
Master locked the box.
Master said I would like the box.
Master said if I was a good cat,
I would get rewarded.
Master said he wouldn’t be long.
Master said I don’t listen.
Master said I eat too much.
Master said stop biting so much.
Master said I am too anti-social.
Master said he’ll be back.
Master didn’t give me the key
to the box.
I’m writing a collection where the protagonist is Werner Herzog as if he were a cat who muses on the meaning of life, existential dread, and the powerlessness he feels being owned by a human, while also feeling in control of the mice in the house.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Sexting the Dead (Unknown Press, 2017) & Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes, Poetry and the managing editor for Civil Coping Mechanisms and Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, BUST, Spork Press, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente