Ankh’s 2019 interview with me:
Ankh’s on his latest book:
Q3: How important is form in your poetry?
I suspect people who know my work might expect the answer to be ‘it isn’t’, because I’m a free-verse kind of spirit who rarely writes to strict form.
(One notable exception would be haiku/senryu – writing these is a sort of meditative distillation for me and often a seed/focus for other flow-from-image work, or like catching a passing moment/thought in a butterfly net exactly the right size).)
I greatly admire poets who do write in strict forms, but my brain tends to gravitate to open-ended space rather than absolute rules, unless they’re extremely condensed. What that doesn’t mean is that form isn’t important to my work in the broader sense of its elements. I absolutely do use line length, shape, space (including surrounding space), internal rhyme, cribbed rules of metre
in ways that don’t adhere to prescribed patterns, but are crucial to the feeling-translation that I want to hand to a reader, so are very consciously crafted.
Probably the elements I apply most deliberately are enjambments and rhythm, they’re enormously important to me – the former so often allows a ‘twist’ of multiple meaning to creep in in the space between breaths, and the second
makes a poem lodge in the body, the breath, the heartbeat, not just stay in the eye.
In The Water Engine there are quite a few poems that have been editedto differ from their original publication, and most of those edits were a refining of the translation for one of those elements. I also love the idea that you get to do that in a book – to hand people
a map that has a very slightly different name for a place they thought they knew on it.
A shorter way to answer this might be that I think some poets gravitate to making the journey of writing a poem by following internal GPS directions, and some navigate by a general sense of the compass, knowing they need to pass the lone fairy-tree or the rocks shaped like a dog’s head.
Both types of poet are ultimately using east/west/north/south, but for me the landmarks are more the big pins than the ABC. Either way, it’s a trip.
Here’s where to get a copy of Ankh’s debut: https://femmesalvebooks.net/the-water-engine-by-ankh-spice/
More to come.