Photo courtesy Letizia GramagliaANACONDA
Water most closely resembles space,
more so than our hard imagining
of ideal nothings; water, sure as snakes
are steady, pouring over every sit-
Trinidadian Poet Vahni Capildeo reads 'Anaconda' from Undraining Sea (2009) in this amazing new pod-cast at Spaces Between Words. She also reads from Utter, another completed book, and gives insight to her process of writing.
When people say things like, 'what does this poem mean?' or 'how can you summarise this line?' I think well what is the point of writing a poem rather than writing a report? Because I want to be able to evoke contradictions and produce what could be called cognitive dissonance which, I think, is a very natural state and also sometimes to be able to grasp certain truths which are not, perhaps, theorisable.
I mean obviously I am not a physicist but I think there are certain truths about the simultaneous perception of time and memories, like the memory of a migrant, that can be apprehended poetically in a certain way beyond what can be described in a scientific report.
I think what I do is I try to be very aware all the time of the rhythm of people's voices; of sense stimuli; of bigger implications like political implications underlying what someone is saying personally: so the matrix in which people say things or in which people act. I would try to think myself into other people's heads, almost like finding out what particular music moves that person. And, also, a kinda of thick description to the environment in which anything happens. I am conscious, for example here, of talking in a very blue and green room and I better go back and write about this: blue and green things will start to emerge in my head.
So after a lot of very vigorous and vivid experience of living and then disciplined reading (and also pleasurable reading) I'd grow an interior journey. I look without compromise at what is coming up in my mind. It's like a thread has exercised my mind and what kind of dance is it going to do. And if my mind presents me with a sequence of images, I might interrogate it; ask where do these come from. But not really why are they there. The question why is for the revision process. I put down the truth of what my mind presents when it is made to focus very quietly.
Maybe part of the reason literature is there is to remind us that we don't have to take a tool-kit and come up with a solution, but you need to keep on trying and trying and marvelling. Maybe it is the humility of marvelling.
LISTEN TO MORE HERE.
from UNDRAINING SEA
from NO TRAVELLER RETURNS