Hi, here's a little project I've been working on for the blog. I wanted to pay tribute and draw attention to an emerging artist coming from St. Thomas University's creative writing program. It took some planning and a whole new computer, but I'm happy to finally debut this. I sat down with Lexi McCormack, who won STU's 2018 David Velensky Prize in Creative Writing. We had a conversation, I recorded it, and have transcribed their words for you here. Hopefully future ACPA editors will take up this project for our next prize-winning poets.
- Jamie Kitts
I just graduated from STU with an English Honours and Concentration in Creative Writing. I'm going into the Education program in the fall. I write things sometimes.
There were two pieces that had a similar scene in it, and I hadn't decided if I wanted to write it as a poem or more of a prose-y piece, so I played around with both, and ended up submitting both because they kind of compliment each other a bit. It's a memory from my childhood that I kind of wanted to explore and that's why I was debating on whether I wanted to do that in poetry form or a prose form. I didn't know because in poetry you can be a little bit more secretive, or vague; you can be a little bit more abstract, but in prose it's more of detailing out a scene, and I didn't know if I wanted to hide a little bit more or if I wanted to detail the scene a little bit more.
I guess I still didn't say exactly what happened in the prose piece. In "dumpster kitten" it's more of what actually happened, which is kind of weird because I just said that poetry can hide a bit more, but I guess I still found a loophole or something with the prose. The poetry is non-fiction, the prose piece is creative non-fiction.
In prose it's more step-by-step, detailing a scene, outlining a scene with each step the character takes, whereas poetry is more about the raw emotion which can be left up to interpretation. I don't need to write "this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened," I just put an emotion on a page and let people look at it. I have to put it out there but I don't have to explain myself -- the words that stir a certain emotion, even if they're not saying what happened, they're stirring an emotion.
The prose piece takes the image in "dumpster kitten," except it's slightly altered for the sake of narrative that I had been going to write. The poem came first. The poem was the first thing I wrote for this memory. It has more of the emotions in it, the true emotions. A lot of my pieces, especially starting out, had been mostly prose poetry. When I do write prose, it still sounds a little vague. It's more complicated for me to write with prose, because you have to say things, whereas I feel safer in poetry.
If you're writing an emotion you're gonna write the emotion, and emotions don't have a pre-baked form. You write the social construction of love, you can be like, "These characters went and had a milkshake. Now they're in love. Now they're married." Like, love doesn't look like that. Love sucks. But it's not cookie cutter, and emotions usually start leaking through their cardboard boxes that they're put into, and then they make a nasty little puddle on the floor, and sometimes it floods the whole house, and sometimes all your belongings are ruined. Sometimes the cost is really high.
I was going to add the prose as a scene for a thesis concept at one time. And it was also going to be a series that I wanted to work on. But I didn't know if I wanted to do it with prose excerpts and whatnot. So, I was just playing, just testing things out. I didn't use it as a thesis concept, and if it was going to be for another series I wouldn't use it either. The memory was told differently for a thesis concept rather than the memory as it is in "dumpster kitten," so I wouldn't use it there either.
the scooby-doo cake melts into the kitchen
table & my pj bottoms. he took the unstruck, thumbing sourpuss--
bites back & knocks back; outside a helicopter, the tv an
amber alert, the garbage bags of filler-teeth— i look, he coos:
— he won’t be at his morning shift, i won’t be in bed
on time. hide-&-seeking--
kitty, kitty, kitty
mummy showers off coca-cola, mouths at
my nape & the baby hairs there. all fours, i mother the dustpan greys,
the stranded strays of a birthday present, & wait for the moans & claws
at a glass door
his waving to be let in
Used with permission of the author.
As the ACPA Editors, we wish to keep you up to date with new entries and exciting poetry news.