As someone who actively writes both poetry and fiction, I alternate between reading poetry and fiction regularly. I find that reading poetry really makes me think about sound of my sentences, often to the point where I make sure I read my fiction out loud and will spend sometimes half an hour or more on it if I feel a sentence doesn’t sound right. It also makes me hyper-aware of form, and how to play with it, something I’ve been experimenting with more and more in my fiction. Currently up on the poetry docket is Matthew Zapruder’s Father’s Day. Most of the poetry I read is concerned with hard truths and in this collection, I think Zapruder does a brilliant job of persuading us, with beautiful words, that words are not enough, not matter how beautiful, when we talk about the current social and political issues.
“When I’m writing fiction, I actually like to start my writing sessions by reading the work of writers I feel that I’m in conversation with.”
I read a lot of both poetry and fiction when I’m feeling “dry” creatively, no matter what project I’m working on, because I find that poetry informs my fiction, and fiction also gives me images to play with in my poetry. In my new poetry collection, I’m writing a lot about fear and the end of the world lately and sometimes I see echoes of Paige Cooper’s absolutely brilliant post-apocalyptic worlds in Zolitude, where humans terra-form desolate planets, staring back at me. When I’m writing fiction, I actually like to start my writing sessions by reading the work of writers I feel that I’m in conversation with. I’ll re-read stories in Zolitude and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties (I’m working on her memoir, In The Dream House, right now–if it can be called work). I love the way Machado’s work blurs the lines between genre fiction, like horror and erotica, and literary fiction, and invents its own forms (much like poetry), which is something I’m also trying to do with the collection of short fiction that I’m working on. Currently, I’m taking a deep dive into Karen Russell, and recently started her first short fiction collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves which made me appreciate all the more the way magic realism can turn on a series of images, working by emotion and the logic of half-remembered, archetypal stories.
Paola Ferrante’s poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving A Lion Attack, was published 2019 by Mansfield Press. She is Poetry Editor at Minola Review.