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Nicole Santalucia
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Nin Andrews Interviews Nicole Santalucia and Asks Her the Kinds of Questions Nin Can Never Answer Why are you a poet? NS: Who is a poet? Well, why are you a poet? Look, my defense mechanisms are surfacing by trying to answer such a complicated, yet simple question with questions. No, really, I think . . . I might have turned into a poet the day I pulled my neighbors' pants down and ran home crying to my mom. I saw all the answers and all the questions that I ever wanted to ask that day, when I was 8 years old, standing in the backyard on David Drive in Johnson City, NY. We were both 8, well, she might have been 9, and I was angry with my neighbor, Stacey G., for not giving me attention, for not watching me while I rode her bike all by myself. So, I think, that I might have been made into a poet that very day, that hot summer day in July, as I stood next to a lonely girl with her pants around her ankles. I mean, I think I caused her some embarrassment, or maybe even emotional trauma, but all I was trying to do was get some attention without knowing the difference between negative and positive attention. Maybe I am a poet because I am sorry and don't feel that sorry is ever good enough. Maybe, I write poems as a way to make amends to the world and to Stacey G. That's how poets are made, right? They turn into themselves and look out at the world at the same time; they communicate everything they know. I might even be a poet because I don't know how not to be a poet. Or, what if I'm not a poet at all and I'm something else, something that has nothing to do with wanting to be anything other than myself. I don't want to be a bitch about being a poet, but the poet part of me and the bitch part of me sometimes find a way to sing along together, or they don't. Either way there is poetry involved. Do you have a working title for your first book? Your true loves? Your life? NS: Bitches Falling From The Sky. That is my answer for all three questions. Do you have a lucky number? NS: Two, and everything that makes the number two. That could be you plus me equals two. One poem plus one poem equals two. Three poems minus one poem equals two. Morning plus night equals one morning and one night and that is two of something. Do you see ghosts? NS: I see shadows almost every day. Is that the same thing? In his famous poem, “The Archaic Torse of Apollo,” Rilke said you must change your life. Please make a list of how you plan to do this. NS: I plan to change everything I cannot see nor touch by closing my eyes... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Nin Andrews and I have been bitch-blogging for a few days now and we thought that we'd take today off from bitching, or at least tone it down a little. We want to take a moment and reflect upon a very important bitch moment in New York State, in my life, and also give some praise to one of our favorite poets, Maria Mazziotti Gillan. Thanks to Maria, thanks to Deanna, thanks to New York’s Marriage Equality Act approved on June 24, 2011, I got married last summer and wrote a blog entry for Best American Poetry. Here is the link to that post: Married Bitches I want to take some time on this blog to give a bitchin' thanks to the one and only great Maria Mazziotti Gillan for being a great mentor, poet, friend, and so much more. I will paste a short version of her bio here, which can hardly contain the great spirit she is. Maria Mazziotti Gillan is an American poet who grew up speaking Italian in an Italian immigrant family in Paterson, New Jersey. She is the Founder and the Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ. She is also the Director of the Creative Writing Program / The Binghamton Center for Writers, and a Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-State University of New York. She has published eleven books of poetry, including The Weather of Old Seasons (Cross-Cultural Communications, 1988), Where I Come From (1995), Things My Mother Told Me (1999), and Italian Women in Black Dresses (Guernica Editions, 2002). She is co-editor with her daughter Jennifer of three anthologies published by Penguin/Putnam: Unsettling America, Identity Lessons, and Growing up Ethnic in America. She also has co-edited with her daughter Jennifer Gillan and Edvige Giunta, Italian American Writers on New Jersey (Rutgers University Press). She is the editor of the award-winning Paterson Literary Review. Her newest book, All That Lies Between Us (Guernica Editions, 2007) won the 2008 American Book Award. Gillan also received the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Literary Outreach, and The Dare to Imagine Award from Very Special Arts. Her poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. HERE ARE TWO LINKS THAT WILL LEAD YOU TO MARIA’S POEMS: "Arturo," "Public School #18: Paterson, New Jersey," and "My Daughter at 14, Christmas Dance, 1981" Link to Poems AND “Love Poem to My Husband of 31 Years,” “Dream of My Grandmother & Great Grandmother,” and “What A Liar I Am” Link to Poems I must say that Joe Weil compliments and describes Maria's poetry beautifully in his tribute to her posted on The Best America Poetry blog back in February. He is an incredible poet himself and I just love what he wrote: "If one is not careful, and is expecting a nuanced equivocation of "feeling" then one misreads her. She is a voice that has learned to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
This entry is a continuation of our last blog entry in which Nicole promised to describe to everyone her “little bitch world” in which everything is a bitch. Now, not only does Nicole’s little bitch world brew bitch coffee, but the people read bitch books at the bitch library. Maybe you want directions to Nicole’s Town of Bitch. Maybe, you’ve driven through this town before. When I asked Nicole where Bitch Town is she said it’s just up the road, that I wouldn’t miss it. She said that there’s one grocery store, one coffee shop, one hospital, and one library. All the residence of Bitch wake up early and drink Bitch coffee (the coffee beans are from Bitches County). The bitches go to the grocery store and fill their carts with cans of Bitch food. They stop off at the hospital to visit their old, Bitch mothers. Then they go to the library and read about how to grow a Bitch from scratch. By the time they get home it is time to cook dinner, and by nightfall everyone in Bitch Town is lying in bed counting bitches. They fall asleep and dream only bitch dreams. I couldn’t help but respond to Nicole’s description of the Town of the Bitch. I had to get in my car and drive up the road to see it for myself. This is what I found, in case any of you are looking for a nice place to move to: 1. In the town of the Bitch, bitching is a sacred art. Everyone must bitch. Men, women, children, infants, dogs . . . 2. But there are problems. In recent years, for example, a new type of citizen has emerged, a serene citizen. The citizens are alarmed by the presence of these new and serene citizens in their midst, and refer to them only as Mr. and Ms. Serenity. What are they hiding behind their polite smiles? they ask one another. 3. Meanwhile the average person continues to bitch, not only for themselves but also for Mr. and Ms. Serenity. 4. Recent research suggests a correlation between the number of hours one bitches and the integrity of a person. For this reason, no one trusts Mr. and Ms. Serenity. 5. Sometimes Mr. and Ms. Serenity dream of bitching. They thrash and swear and wake in their beds, sheets soaked, swear words escaping their lips. But how to make them bitch in public, like everyone else? medical experts wonder. 6. Therapists call Mr. and Mrs. Serenity les homme manques, likening them to those humans whose essential ingredients are missing. 7. According to The Joy of Bitching, the ability to bitch, like the ability to achieve orgasms, can be lost forever through lack of practice. 8. A lifetime without bitching can render a man impotent, a woman frigid, and both eternally forgettable, much like puffy white clouds on a serenely blue sky. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I will discuss some of my favorite bitching... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
What can I say? A bitch is like a liar who finally gets to the truth and then hides it. If the truth is desirable for the poet who is after some form of truth then bitching is an articulation and honest form. For those poets who notice disturbances in the world, that is truths that not everyone notices, then the art of bitching is not just art plus bitching, nor is it a lazy art by way of bitching, nor bitching by way of art. One might say that bitching is for the disgruntled and unsatisfied, or it is for those who are incapable of finding inner peace and acceptance. I say that bitching is a technique, a representation of both the self and the world. Much like most any other art, bitching doesn’t just happen as a result of a bad mood or bad day; rather, it is an expression of a moment or it is an interpretation. It is a way in which the self allows for conversation with another part of the self, or a way to put a voice to a memory. The most artful bitching comes from the inner bitch, the bitch that fights back against the world, but before doing so this bitch part of the self is in unison with the beholder and sees the world as it is— at least as it is perceived at any given moment before the bitch part of the self joins the conversation. Now, this act of separating the self and calling one part the bitch might be a plea of insanity for some, but I ask you to take a look inward and see if you have a bitch in there that is itching to come out. The word of the day is bitch and it is up to you, reader, to recognize all the bitch moments of your day, the bitch sky with beautiful bitchy clouds, and when you get really comfortable and good at being your bitch-self you will want to read or compose some bitch poems. You may consider rereading some of your favorite poems and begin looking for any bitches that may have been there all along. I have recently discovered a bitch in Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird.” Where there is order there is room for un-reality as well as reality; where there is disorder there is reality. And, between reality and un-reality a sudden notice of the world about is hardly sudden. An element of surprise comes with distinction. The differences are not what are at stake in Stevens’ poem, but the ability to identify what is not different and then the way in which the poet (or reader) chooses to perceive the world becomes a preference. The opening stanza situates an image perched upon a tree limb in plain sight. Here the sighting is of the bird, and the bird is looking back as if this part of nature is partially within. This... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Nov 3, 2011