National Poetry Month Spotlight: Erica Wright

Debris for Looters
Flames make cousins pause
in their small-town prowl
for something to do,
someone to make miserable.
Fuel means intent means
investigation, and what are you
two standing around for?
The same weekend you hit
your friend Gary with the Jeep—
this can’t survive the fallout,
even in the fog lighting
of the local ER
where all our faces gather dust
the way prophets gather.
Waiting for the third disaster,
there is time to imagine
how carbon is mined
and how lovely our ashes would be.
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: By nature I am not a jealous person, but for some reason, I believe that every other writer has a better desk than mine—bigger, less cluttered. My favorite place to write is at one of those imaginary, better desks.
Q: When I lived on the Upper West Side, I used to walk down to Riverside Park and sit on a bench by the Hudson River. I really enjoyed that, but wrote too many poems about flotsam and jetsam.
Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?
A: I remember the line—“nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands”—but I had to look up the title. And then I recalled that E. E. Cummings didn’t often title his poems. The first line of this one is “somewhere I have never travelled,gladly beyond,” and I don’t think I’ve read it since high school. Looking at it now, I wonder what drew me to it besides that final line; it’s chockfull of abstractions. I think it may have been the opening of the last stanza, which is an address to the beloved, but also articulates what my fifteen-year-old self saw in poetry: “I do not know what it is about you that closes / and opens;only something in me understands.”
Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?
A: Watching the sunset at midnight in Stykkishólmur, Iceland. It helped that my belly was full of the best cod I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know if that exactly counts as having happened to me, but it happened.
Erica Wright is the author of the forthcoming collection of poems Instructions for Killing the Jackal (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and the chapbook Silt (Dancing Girl Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, From the Fishouse, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. She is the Poetry Editor at Guernica Magazine.