An Animal I Can't Name, won the 2015 Two of Cups Press competition; her debut poetry collection, Head of a Gorgon, is forthcoming with Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in 2022; and she has a memoir in progress. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University, where she was an assistant editor for Mid-American Review. Her work has been published in Cimarron Review, Puerto del Sol, and other journals. Connect with her at raegenmp.wordpress.com and on Twitter @freeradicalrp.
What poets changed the way you thought about writing?
There are a couple different angles to this question. For better or worse, there are poets one only knows on the page, and there are poets one knows in real life. And for better or worse, there is the work of poets that can change the way one thinks about writing, and there are the actions of poets that can change the way one thinks about writing. Experiences with particular poets in all these ways—both positive and negative—have made me think differently not only about writing but also about the poets themselves and the writing business in general.
Systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, ageism, etc., poison the world, including the writing sphere. There are people, fellow writers, who actively work to deplatform others, to silence what is perceived as “less than” or “different,” and sometimes even appropriate others’ experiences instead of giving others the platform and space to share their authentic stories. My deepest hope is that every underrepresented writer will persist, despite such people, if one is in a safe enough position to do so.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve had tremendous female poets both in my life and on the page who have guided me toward my voice and ultimately toward the publication of my chapbook, An Animal I Can’t Name, and my forthcoming full-length collection, Head of a Gorgon, with Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. Louise Gluck’s “Mock Orange” was the poem that got me interested in not just reading poetry but actually writing it. Finding a speaker like the one in that poem who was brave enough to say things I had felt but had never articulated myself was one of my earliest and most profound experiences with poetry. From there, I found inspiration and insight in workshops with Mong-Lan, Luci Tapahonso, Dorothy Barresi, and Leilani Hall. And then I had the privilege of Larissa Szporluk’s mentorship in grad school, which was transformational for me not only as a poet but as a person. She encouraged me to write the book I wanted to read, and that’s pretty much when I abandoned the po-biz/academia edicts and did just that.