Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet Shannon Hearn has joined us to discuss the work of Carrie Lorig, hybrid poetry, and taking inspiration from other creatives. As always, thank you for tuning in!
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first experience with Carrie Lorig’s work?
Shannon Hearn: I’m so glad you asked this question. I was first introduced to Lorig’s work the last year of my undergraduate studies by the author Darcie Dennigan (to whom I owe so much, and who pointed my toes towards many of the writing loves in my life). I was working on an extended prose poem in a workshop with Dennigan, which ended up turning into a much lengthier piece titled Tracing Circles in Dirt; I had just read a few writers like Alice Notley and Renee Gladman for the first time and found myself very intrigued in the ways poets do / might take up space on the page.
During this time, I was working hard with my therapist and energy healer on communication related anxiety and finding my voice (not just my poetic voice! that too ((always)), but more so intentionally looking at the ways I was finding myself unable to participate in the world because my anxiety was so paralyzing. I frequently was incapable of speaking at all) and Tracing Circles in Dirt became a very crucial space where I allowed myself / to wrestle with the disorder happening. I started interrogating the line and phrases within each line. And, perhaps in a gesture towards the ways Notley uses “” in Descent of Alette, I started breaking up my prose with slashes “/” and cultivating a cadence on the page that narrowed in on what happens when we isolate words and phrases by cutting them open and asking them to stand / alone.
Basically, I was fascinated by the myriad of ways where so much goes unsaid or unnoticed in sentences on the page and I was very compelled to place weight / on those moments (my partner is a therapist and finds all of this to be utterly masochistic…. Can’t speak? Nice! Let’s put more compression on the words we use to construct our sentences and see how and what they do under pressure!). Enter Carrie Lorig’s The Book of Repulsive Women, which Dennigan sent along to me. Turns out, the slash “/” is Lorig’s signature move. I consumed The Book of Repulsive Women in a day and feverishly moved onto their chapbook Nods from Magic Helicopter Press and then later the same year The Pulp Vs The Throne from Artifice. When I think about my experience with Lorig’s writing, the time I spend with her work really stands as a plot of land where I feel noisily and sympathetically seen by another author in an obsession with language / an obsession which gestures intimately toward ones I wrestle with on the page and in my own body.
Their work really stoked the fire in me for experimentation. Lorig’s poetry was a moment where I read them and thought, oh, this is so weird and challenges so much about what so many of us have been taught about language / the constructs – this is exactly what i am trying and want to be doing. Reading her writing gave me a permission to continue laboring with my words in the frustrated dance / I was locked in / and, if I’m being honest, which I always am trying to be, gave me viscous and tender validation for the power of experimentation.
AH: You’ve selected poems from a writer who’s done a lot of hybrid writing. How have you been
inspired to innovate in your own work?
SH: Lorig’s writing was absolutely a teacher / to the hybridity that I explore in my own writing and the ways I move / within experimentation. Particularly for people who have been raised within submissive roles in society and from socialization focused on their service to a dominate group, I think it is an ongoing process discovering the ways we can and should take up space – internally and externally.
For me, hybridity has always been a part / of that conversation. All poetry is layered, but when you lift the concept of this form being X and that form being Y, the pressures shift / the choreography becomes an animal / all of its own. You begin moving in a more full-body of language and energy within the work. Hybridity is all about expanding one’s field of vision and if we’re able to lift up off of this form or that genre, there is opportunity for the motions to become all the more sweeping. In a sense, we are giving ourselves permission to demonstrate the ways we’re able to twist and contort and shout and fuck and make a racket on the page in a whole new dimension.
When I look at hybridity / in my own writing, I find myself circling around the same ideas over and around in similar fashions but different fonts. In my MFA I worked with the writer Nicole Cooley and she would say as poets we are constantly gesturing towards the same themes in our work, we just approach those themes from different angles as we move along. For me, this is speaking and not speaking; this is the physical mouth and access to the internal through different, physical parts of the body; this is bridled femininity in its many, various forms. The slash “/” is something I think I will continue / exploring my whole life, but I’ve found my writing continues to look for new ways to interrogate / the unsaid, and also the “why” within what is / unsaid. What are the implications when we cannot speak? What are the implications when we can speak, but choose not to? What are the power dynamics of silence and how does this surface / simmer on the page?
AH: Lorig has done a lot of poems interrogating form as function. Personally, I’ve always seen hybrid work as a true reflection of the mind—we think in images, words, a cacophony of many different things. How have you approached and viewed hybridity?
SH: I have always been taken with writers who push / for innovation on the page in their work. I think a lot of this started with my own incapacity to speak (and i truly do mean speaking both internally and externally…. to others, but also to the self; i’m always trying to find new ways into my own mind, new thought patterns and circuitous cycles of thought to break open and shake my finger at and kiss) and finding ways to articulate through that state of being. I did a deep dive into Emily Dickinson’s poetry through an independent study in my last year as an undergraduate under the guidance of the poet Penelope Pelizzon where I read all of Dickinson’s poems in order of when they were written, alongside an exploration of her letters and other poets who write in conversation with her (Susan Howe, Lucie Brock-Broido).
There is a slight, strong hand of silence inside of these poets and their work. Maybe silence isn’t right or a specific enough word, maybe more the weight of what is / goes unsaid. Gertrude Stein is another writer who I feel does this ruthlessly. I am always falling in love with poets who have such a hand on the craft of withholding / when they are able to release a line that says one thing (maybe even a nonsensical thing through the tradition of the English language) but means so much more when you are able to dig into what isn’t explicitly being given to you as a reader. So, there’s that side to the coin.
There’s also the other side where I am absolutely floored by writers who manage to do the opposite: to put so much of their thought process onto the page you can’t help but feel a little shaken and seen by it all. Bernadette Mayer, Magdalena Zurawski. I still haven’t recovered from The Bruise and I’m not sure I ever want to convalesce. I know I’m speaking less towards hybridity here than this question prompted, but I think some of the most profound moments of hybridity come when an individual feels so caught between two sources / modalities / colors they have to find a way to communicate by channeling both and I think Carrie Lorig is someone who has mastered this in the field of poetics. In an interview with Heavy Feather Review around the time The Pulp came out Lorig said, “I really don’t think we, as individual people, actually try to describe what it feels like for us TO THINK. I also don’t think we often recognize how difficult it can be to imagine / engage with the different ways those around us think / experience thinking. I mean isn’t this one of the important things reading tries to get closer to?”
I think about this (quite literally) all the time, but particularly when I’m writing. Like, isn’t that one of the most crucial elements to why we read and why we write??? And yet, so frequently, it’s hardly a part of the conversation at all. The way you describe hybridity is so beautiful, as “a true reflection of the mind,” and I absolutely agree. To embody hybridity, to me, is to sit in humanity – to find / field the tension in otherwise ordinary words and phrases, build further into that, and allow space for duality there.
AH:What have you been up to lately? Got any news you’d like to share (life updates, writing, anything!)?
SH: This is such a thoughtful question – thank you for asking. This past fall I started as a PhD candidate in poetry at SUNY Binghamton. Contending with imposter syndrome one, sweet day at a time. I have two chapbooks I’m currently working on who I’m vaguely convinced are about to get married and become a full-length piece – they just don’t know this yet. I go through peaks and valleys of writing and editing with my own work and I’m currently producing lots so I’m trying to be patient with myself and happily procrastinate the throes of editing, which will soon consume my life. I’m trying to be way more intentional about building out a safe writing community and surrounding myself with writers who really see my work and my voice and push me towards myself. I do have a few pieces in the wings of publication, which always feels nervous and embarrassing and thrilling and terrifying. My most recent publication came out right before I got married last fall [:’)] and can be read /listened to at Voicemail Poems.
Carrie Lorig is the author of the chapbooks The Blood Barn, The Repulsive Woman, and NODS. Her full-length collection of poems and essays The Pulp vs. The Throne was released with Artifice Books. She is currently a PhD student in School Psychology.
Find Lorig on Twitter here.
Read an interview with Lorig at Entropy.
Shannon Hearn is currently a PhD candidate in poetry at Binghamton University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming with 3:AM Magazine, Big Lucks, cream city review, Juked, Fugue, Heavy Feather Review, Voicemail Poems, DIALOGIST, and others. She received her MFA in poetry from Queens College, and lives in Brooklyn.
Read her poem “What Marriage Is / Tender Care” at Voicemail Poems.
Read her poem “You Are/No Longer” at Heavy Feather Review.
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com