from West Trade Review, Spring 2018, Vol. 9 ©2018
Dylan Krieger is an automatic meaning generator in south Louisiana, where she earned her MFA in creative writing from LSU and now sunlights as a trade magazine editor. Her debut poetry collection, Giving Godhead (Delete Press, 2017), was dubbed “the best collection of poetry to appear in English in 2017” by the New York Times Book Review. She is also the author of dreamland trash (Saint Julian Press, 2018), no ledge left to love (Ping-Pong Free Press, forthcoming), and an autobiographical meditation on the Church of Euthanasia called The Mother Wart, as well as numerous other solo and collaborative projects. Find her at www.dylankrieger.com.
WTR: A common theme we notice in your work is the idea of a fracture or break, whether that is a physical or emotional one. How has this idea influenced how you shape the structure of your poems? Was this something you considered when writing “Head in the Cloud?”
I have a rather strange relationship with form and structure on the page, primarily because I’m such an auditory rather than a visual thinker. There’s a very real sense in which visual form simply doesn’t matter to me, insofar as the most complete instantiation of the poem is heard, not seen. That being said, however, the interlocking short lines of “head in the cloud” have appeared in my work more than once, and for this particular poem the notion of disconnect you point out is important. The images of the fractured gravy boat and the liberty bell replica, among others, touch on an anxiety about symbolic and sentimental objects’ inevitable decay, posing a morbid curiosity about the extent to which ideas die with their symbols.
WTR: There seems to be a tension in your work related to an individual’s understanding of their culture. Why do you choose to address this idea? Was there any particular event that prompted your exploration of this?
I think being homeschooled all my life until college led to a sense of cultural alienation for me, a feeling that I somehow stood outside of my local and even national communities, looking in. Even now, I often find myself referring to the “high school” era of my life to maintain an air of normalcy I had no hope of achieving then. But in contrast, there was also a reflection on cultural absorption that only took place after the homeschooling, when I realized I’d been totally indoctrinated in a Biblical understanding of the world that was/is by no means universal. In other words, although I’d always considered myself an outsider, I eventually came to understand that self-diagnosis as itself a distinctive mark of extreme-right polarized American thinking—I was both a social outcast and the epitome of a culture sponge.
WTR: A recurring idea in your work appears to be an underlying frustration with relationships, both familial and romantic. Is this your method of seeking emotional release or remedy? If so, which of your poems best demonstrates this and in what way?
Writing qua communication is an inherently social act, so I think it’s useful and often cathartic to plug it into particular relationships and watch the lights flicker. At bottom, everything is therapy. But like in any doctor’s office, you sometimes discover there is no remedy. I think my poem “money / talk,” which depicts my finance-oriented relationship with my mother, best demonstrates this lack of clear remedy by admitting in its final lines I have “nothing left to say.” When it comes to family, some scars just sit there, and you have to love people around and through them rather than reopening the wound every time you interact.
WTR: What do you see as the importance and power of nature imagery in your work in such poems as “sick of shelling?”
One strategy I’ve employed for several years now in my above mentioned enterprise to de-stigmatize the grotesque body involves drawing parallels between it and the grotesque transformations we see in nature that are (in contrast) usually considered quite beautiful. The prickly abrasions created by both beard and cactus in the last few couplets, for example, could be said to show the violence of nature, certainly, but they also illustrate penetrability as a basis of desire—the speaker wants to feel the cactus’ “golden arrows”—as well as vulnerability to aggression.