Emily DiGiovanni was named our featured author this month for her contributions to our Summer Poetry Selections.
I bought my first book of poetry when I was twelve years old. The book was Diane Wakoski's The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems. I distinctly remember the first line that hit me as true, a moment where Wakoski gives a gold earring away to a biker on the beach, stating that, "[she] knew it was part of the encounter, / the exchange, / that everything we have is that way" (excerpt from My Hell's Angel). Nothing we call our own is truly so, but in a state of constant movement, passing hands uncontrollably with no set sense of self.
As writers, we find this interplay, these inspirations, in both obvious and unforeseen places – through books or fellow writers, on billboards proclaiming "Daisy Fuentes is not pregnant," during late night porch talks about existence under inciting stars, from a man ranting on the bus about how we all have to wake up and face ourselves. Or, as Federico Garcia-Lorca put it in A Poet in New York, from "the broken hearted fugitive [who] will meet on the street corners / an incredible crocodile resting beneath the tender protest of / the stars" (excerpt from Sleepless City).
These "crocodiles" Lorca speaks of can come upon us unexpectantly. Many times, I find them while walking, whether it is routine or unexplored routes. A walk offers to us small moments which gain impact when woven together. Fruits spilling from a passing freight train. A balloon shaped like a bird caught in a tree. A fly resting on a girl sleeping in the grass. The woman one crosses paths with every night coming home from work but never greets.
Recently, I went for my first walk in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. A monsoon had hit the night before, its path of random destruction laid out haphazardly along the road. A deflated orange. A dead pigeon in the shade. A worker's glove. The remnants of a piñata. Petals and stones. Crossing the highway, I was drawn to a strip mall, the center of its concrete crown a grocery store. A perfect place to wander when you have no where else to go, where nothing happens of importance, where there is no circus show.
On the way home, another monsoon hit. As the storm moved against me, I felt a contentedness that goes along with feeling like one does not quite exist anymore. A man with a year old beard and a shopping cart of objects that were once mine or maybe yours crossed my path. I was back. Walking. Along the road.
Maybe these instances are of no importance against the greater chaos a century can hold. This does not stop them from existing or quell the impulse of words. Something as simple as going out for groceries or “losing” an earring can cause a poem to form.
Emily DiGiovanni currently lives in Phoenix, AZ, where she is working construction and plans to create a chapbook for both for herself and a fellow poet during her time there. Her work has appeared in Identity Theory, The Paterson Literary Review and Sea Monkeys, a ‘zine created by a few friends in Philadelphia. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.