National Poetry Month Spotlight: Carol Guess

You’re going to kill her. At least give her legs. She’s drinking from a shard of glass, bloomers cycling in rigor mortis. Pink garters chasten knitted stockings. A cake of soap pines for her dirt. Sauced on gin, perhaps she slipped. Stiff legs suggest she stiffened elsewhere.  Dinner tasted of its tinfoil cover. Wainscoting grasps the tub in its fist. Gentlemen friends brought gin to her room, but somehow “Dark Bathroom” is the scene of the crime. She’s open-ended. You can see up her skirt. No doubt she’s finished to the last doll part. She’s swimming upside-down in flounces, drunk on water, the last thing she’ll taste. She’ll never listen to Sousa’s opus. Plessy v. Ferguson upholds the law.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: Absolutely. I wrote the entire book in a tiny office with no furniture. So I was sitting on the floor, my back against the wall, mulling over Corinne May Botz’s fantastic photograph of poor, dead Maggie Wilson. I had to crib internet off a neighboring office, so at some point I would’ve been standing up, or maybe pacing the hall. When I learned that Plessy v. Ferguson was decided in 1896, the year of Maggie’s death, I knew that would be the last line of the poem.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: I love what Karyna McGlynn does with pop culture, white space, and the syntax of slang in I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl. My favorite poetry books have a faint narrative strand; McGlynn handles her buried narrative so gracefully. I’m also waiting on Shane McCrae’s Mule, which should arrive any day.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Vegan chocolate cake, eaten with stolen silverware on a stranger’s china in Vancouver, BC.

Carol Guess is the author of two novels, a memoir, and three poetry collections: Femme’s Dictionary (Calyx Books), Tinderbox Lawn (Rose Metal Press), and Doll Studies: Forensics, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in early 2012.