Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Author: Linda Dove and "O Dear Deer,"

Linda Dove is that rare creature: a published poet. Besides her acclaimed books she has published poems in the L.A. Review, The Antigonish Review, Clackamas Literary Review and more, and has won several poetry awards. Please welcome today's guest author, Linda Dove.


I’ve encountered a few unexpected moments on the way to becoming a writer. After I published my first book of poems in 2009, I was surprised with the sense that I needed to take on a new voice, a new technique. Most folks would tell you to stick with what’s worked, or—more insistently—that you should keep to what you know, that you should write out of your authentic place. “Authentic” is a much-bandied-about word in writer circles, but I’m not sure anyone really knows what they mean by it. In any case, I felt like I wanted to try the sort of experimental writing that made my heart race when it was done well. I admired it because I didn’t understand it.   

So I did a lot of reading. For two years, I read everything I could get my hands on both in print and online—poetry collections, chapbooks, journals, anthologies, criticism, book reviews, theory. I followed poets on Twitter, 20 years my junior, who were starting innovative presses and e-zines. I not only read blogs, I read the comment sections of blogs, where the meatiest—some would say the nastiest—debates were happening. I once found myself sitting alone at a table in a decrepit Denver ballroom, which was sagging with Christmas lights though it was April, as I sipped red wine and waited for a packed house of Hot Young Poet Things—those who had never known a world without the internet—to present their work. If you perceive some anxiety about my age coming into play, you wouldn’t be wrong. I knew no one and was sporting the only gray hair in the room. At least I had an iphone to look busy with

In the midst of this re-education project, I got called for jury duty in downtown L.A. Surprise! I was launched into an alternate universe, full of odd-sounding legalisms and morgue photos and testimony about gang tattoos. My jury experience became the basis for my chapbook of experimental poems, O Dear Deer,, although I hadn’t planned on writing about the trial, which seemed too raw, too complex.  Wasn’t it wrong—sort of unholy—to experiment with so much grief? But I realized that, the more fragmented the lines, the more they spoke to human brokenness. I didn’t try to recount the events that led to the trial in my poems. Instead, I became fixated on deer, antlers, trees. Where clarity would have collapsed under the weight of its own detail, abstraction made room for what was truly authentic: the fact that nothing would ever be the same. 

My books are available at Amazon and, locally, at Webster’sFine Stationers. Please join me at two upcoming readings, where I’ll be introducing the poems from O Dear Deer, : 

Two Heads are Better Productions Presents the Kulture FaCtory’s Sundays at Ellouise, 55 Waverly Drive, Pasadena, Sunday, September 18th at 4:00 PM, $5 cover charge. This appearance is a “10 for 10” reading, which means you’ll get to hear 10 of us read for 10 minutes apiece—short but wide and sweet. It also happens to fall on my birthday! 

Webster’s FineStationers, 2450 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, Saturday, October 15th at 6:00 PM. This reading is happening in conjunction with one of Webster’s regular wine pairing events, "Latin Wines for a Passionate Evening," which will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, so that’s added incentive to come out and have some vino with your verses. They'll keep pouring wines through the poetry reading, and there'll be food, too!


27 comments:

dive said...

So refreshing to read poets and authors describing the creative process. It gives hope to the rest of us. Thank you Linda for a lovely and inspiring post.

Petrea Burchard said...

I love this: "Where clarity would have collapsed under the weight of its own detail, abstraction made room for what was truly authentic." That's delicious prose.

Desiree said...

Fabulous--can't wait for the readings!

Steven said...

I can spot a fellow Virgo from a mile away. Your thought process is so organized and your words flow with such ease. You make hard work look easy. You have a really kind face too. I like you alot. Best of luck on your future writings. I think you are going to win several more awards and accolades. You have one more fan than you did yesterday, me.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Des--yes, they both look like fun ones.

Steven, if you weren't a regular I'd think we'd gotten ourselves a new stalker! Linda's work is truly fine; I hope you'll read some and love it.

Lori Webster said...

I love your guest authors, Petrea, and in Linda, you have one of the finest! Great post and I'm very much looking forward to the reading at our store!

Lucia Galloway said...

I love what you said about experimentation not being in conflict with authenticity. We've got to believe its an essential extension--the growing edge--of our own voices as poets. You've inspired me to venture forth. Thank you, Linda!

Karen said...

Fascinating to hear more about your work process. Yes, Petrea has great guest authors! ;-)

Will be out of town in October but I'm putting the Sept. event on my calendar now. I haven't been to a poetry reading in years, so I'm looking forward to it.

Margaret said...

I'll definitely try and make the October reading. I loved Linda's last book of poetry. I'm sure this new one is terrific. Didn't it win an award?

Linda Dove said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments!

dive--You're welcome! I like to read about other people's process too.

Petrea--Thanks. I'm so happy to be included in your blog series.

Des--Can't wait to see you!

Steven--Ah, yes. The Virgo curse. I didn't even admit my word-by-word perfectionist curse. I can't move forward in a piece until that came before is "just right." This must be why I'm a poet. I'd never get through a whole novel!

Lori--Can't wait for the reading! Thank you all so much for your support of local writers.

Lucia--Wow! I couldn't have said it better myself. Really. Would love to see some of your recent poems.

Karen--Yay! I'm so glad you're coming.

Linda Dove said...

Hi Margaret! So glad you're coming to the Oct. reading. Yes, the chapbook won the first Eudaimonia Review Chapbook Prize, which made me very happy!

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I love my guest authors too, Lori! I almost called Linda an "Altadena Treasure" but that sounds like a lifetime achievement award, for which Linda's too young just yet.

Margaret, thanks for mentioning the prize. Congratulations, Linda!

Bellis said...

Welcome to PDP, Linda. You write beautifully.

Have you dedicated Dear Deer to the gangsters whose trial inspired you? Or sent them copies, with thanks? I'm only kidding, of course - but I'm fascinated by way your jury duty led to these poems.

And I love the print on the cover!

altadenahiker said...

Not all poets can read their own work aloud. Linda Dove can. Definitely take in one of these events.

Linda Dove said...

Petrea--Treasure, huh?

Bellis--I thought about sending one to the District Attorney! But, no, really, the sense of colonizing other people's stories is one of the themes in the poetry. It's hard to let yourself off the hook in this sort of situation. I will never do jury duty again (and now I know how to get out of it!)

Petrea Burchard said...

Ooh, Linda, speaking of treasure, you must share that. Privately, of course.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

gray hair and birthday readings! I've enjoyed your readings in the past and look forward to either the September or October reading (or both).

Steven said...

Petrea, I love this "Author's Series" of yours more than you will ever know. When I was a Sophomore is HS I wrote and English composition that I thought was worthy of being published. Imagine my dismay when it was returned to me with a D minus and the words "Are You Sure This is Your Work?" I then "dumbed down" my essays to a "C" level. I'm still angry with that English teacher and I'm still angry with myself. All of your authors get A's from me. And they all deserve it.

Petrea Burchard said...

Steven, that's just painful. My parents were both teachers; I hope and believe they were superior. I've known so many wonderful teachers who were well aware of the power they held. Shame on the person who shamed you for being bright.

Linda Dove said...

AH--You are too kind. And I think you and Petrea are among the few who have heard a preview of a couple of the Deer poems....

PA--seems a bit crazy to do a reading on my birthday...things could go very, very wrong.

Petrea Burchard said...

Linda, thank you so much. It's been fun having you and your post here today. You truly are a wonderful writer, both of poetry and of prose. Wouldn't it be great to see some Linda Dove essays? Wow.

Linda Dove said...

Thanks, Petrea, for allowing me to use your blog space for my words, if only for a day. This series is representative of how generous you are to your fellow writers. And, yeah, wouldn't it be great to see some Linda Dove blog posts on her own blog?

Wait, what's that you say? I have a blog?

Laurie said...

I love learning what makes you tick, Linda. All I know is, your poetry moves me in deep and mysterious ways. Thank you!

Petrea Burchard said...

I keep having ideas for other things we local writers can do together and for each other. It's all boiling in my brain. We shall see.

Susan Campisi said...

I'm days late, but no less excited to read this post. Fascinating to learn of your process, Linda. I agree with the rest of your fans: your words are inspiring. I've marked both readings on my calendar.

Thanks, P, for another great guest post, and yes, for all your support of local writers.

Petrea Burchard said...

This is more fun for me than you can know. Plus it was Margaret's idea. (http://margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com/)

Petrea Burchard said...

I just now realized I got the book title wrong in the post title! ARgh! So sorry, Linda. I finally took out the h and it is properly "O Dear Deer,".