Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Q&A with Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen, photo by Francesca G. Bewer
Andrea Cohen is the author of the new poetry collection Unfathoming. Her other books of poetry include Furs Not Mine and Kentucky Derby, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker and Poetry. She is the director of the Writers House at Merrimack College and the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Mass.

Q: How was the title "Unfathoming" chosen for your new poetry collection, and what does that word signify for you?

A: Unfathoming comes from the poem “Lit.” What does it signify for me? My constant state, probably. Sure, I know some stuff, but mostly I’m aware of how hard it is to understand so much.

Q: Alice Sebold wrote of Unfathoming, "As the poems in Unfathoming demonstrate, any deliverance comes when loss, explored, makes its way toward wonder." What do you think of that comment?

A: I think we have to look deeply at what we have, or don’t have, at what we’ve lost or will lose, at what’s right or wrong in the world, and do our best to make sense of things, and/or change them. I find cause for wonder and horror or outrage at nearly every turn.

Q: This is your fifth book. Do you feel your writing style has remained consistent over the years, or do you see various changes along the way?

A: Some of the poems in my first book were written when I was 20, or thereabouts, so I hope my writing has changed. I hope it’s always changing, always surprising me. I never know where a poem is headed, and that’s what makes me feel alive, and what, I think, gives life to a poem.
Q: What are you working on now?

A: It’s pretty simple for me. I wake up every day, sit down, and see what happens.   

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Oh, I think there’s so much we should know.  The questions are what interest me, and the not knowing.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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