Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Q&A with Linda Ravenswood




Linda Ravenswood is the author of the new poetry collection a poem is a house. Her other books include Cantadora: Letters from California. She is also a performance artist and the founder of The Los Angeles Press.


Q: Over how long a period did you write the poems in your new collection?


A: The poetry in the new book – a poem is a house – started to coalesce in 2021/2022.


Q: The poet Lee Herrick said of the book, “This book is a revelation. Ravenswood shows us that—a poem is a house—as well as a housefire, a history, a family, a stranger, a choir.” What do you think of that description, and how was the book's title chosen? 


A: The title of the book – a poem is a house – comes from trying to reckon with all of the ways a poem can be, the ways it can possibly affect change; that a poem can provide something meaningful and hopefully revelatory and useful, like the ways in which history is pivotal, how, like shelter and nourishment and memory are essential, so too might a poem bring out something we need.


Q: How did you decide on the order in which the poems would appear in the collection?


A: The poems seem to be separated in two genres, traditional poetry with text on a page, and visual poetry, that also employees text but leans on a foundation of visual art, albeit with text. these two forms of literature parlay back-and-forth throughout the book 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers are surprised by the multiplicities of form and genre, and by the ways in which the poems are trying to communicate something essential, about simple things.


That seems like an easy explanation, especially when what’s being reckoned with in the book is history, which is anything but simple.


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: Since writing a poem is a house, I’ve been working on a book that pushes the boundaries even further between semiotics, text, and visual poetics.


That book is called girls in the desert, and it deals with an eastern desert, and a western desert, and follows the intertwining trajectories of three historical women, Malinche, Ana Mendieta, and Theresa Hak Chung Cha. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I work at a publishing house in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Press, established in 2015, and we’re always looking for work that pushes boundaries, strives to be meaningful and connecting. Please find me there and send me your work.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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