How important is music to your poetry?
My mentor and advisor Larissa Szporluk taught me to always follow and trust in sound, and when I surrendered to that notion—specifically over saying what I thought needed to be said—I found the doors opening to new directions I never imagined my work might go in. A single word in a line echoing the sound in another has changed the whole trajectory of a poem for me, and by the time I feel the version I have in front of me is solid, I often find that I’m also actually saying what I thought needed to be said anyway, but doing so in a much better way than I would have without having trusted in and followed the sound. So it ends up being a win-win.
Here’s an example: In section four of “Letters Between Medusa and Poseidon,” published by Juke Joint, the word “sea” is later echoed by “seeks” and later “keys” and “keeps,” which opens the door to the word “concede”—which was formerly “surrender” in an earlier draft. The concept of surrendering/conceding is pivotal in this poem, but had I stuck with the word “surrender,” it would’ve slowed the poem down and drawn attention to itself at a critical point where the poison of both the word and the concept must be dulled for Poseidon to succeed in what he’s asking of Medusa. The repetition of sound carried throughout and including “concede” instead enacts the quasi-hypnosis he seeks to put her under and at the same time draws attention away from the individual word’s meaning and its implications—or, at least, that was my intention.