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This interview is taken from PN Review 254, Volume 46 Number 6, July - August 2020.

in conversation with Caroline Bird Maya C. Popa
Popa: The collection opens with an epigraph from a poem by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer: there’s an unexpected clearing / that can only be found by those who have gotten lost. How did the idea of getting lost inform the collection?  

Bird: The epigraph relates to the themes of the book, which is very much about getting lost in your own life, falling in love, and the fear that comes before a big life change. It was also a writing instruction I followed. Every time a draft would feel naturally done, I’d deliberately go past that finish line, over the motorway, into the forest, always assuming that the poem was beyond the poem. Past the point of conclusion, or assumed conclusion, there’s freedom, because you think to yourself, ‘Well, I’m done now. I’m in this coda and nothing I say here has any consequence because no one’s ever going to read it’. You start writing with more abandon and you stop trying to sum things up or find an epiphany; therefore, actually epiphanies can happen. I’ve written this way in the past, but I did it more vigorously and consciously in this book by treating getting lost as a discipline.

Popa: How did this approach to generating first drafts affect subsequent drafts?

Bird: So much of first drafts is tricking yourself into not knowing, unlearning what you think the poem is going to teach you. Often the first thing I do with second drafts is to chop off the whole beginning and work with ...


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