National Poetry Month Spotlight: Tina Egnoski

Busking, Providence
Saxophone moonglint at last-stop bar.  Slushy
street on a January night.  I have fifteen
minutes before the horn freezes.  Open-fingered
wool mittens, shades.  The spill of relief: bladder on pavement
and bills in my open case.  I breathe exhaust and beer and starry
night questions.  Woman with a black eye holds
up two fingers: peace or can I bum a smoke?  My own composition
chases the woozy jazzy blues, Marlborosticks
safe in pocket.
Closing up, an Asian man hands me a scribbled
card as payment.  Spiritual advice doesn’t pay rent.
Take and shove your John 3:16, your Do Unto Others,
your Dongbang 15 mm needles.  Your pressure
points, charkas, tourmaline, calendula, kripalu, Stairmaster,
macrobiotics, biorhythms, ten steps, MBAspeak, numerology,
Your fortune cookies, Feng Shui, Tao of Pooh, big
bang theory, sushi bar.  Your Follow Your Bliss.
Your Om.  Your poetry slam your your
weblog your neighborhood crime watch your I
Ching your whistleblower support
group your Atkins prayer mat spinning class
backgammon lust and empty nest syndrome.
Brickknocks, wallknocks, someone’s head hits
the sidewalk.  Innocent bystander becomes
witness.  Cops shoo us like kittens, kids.  Two-fifteen
and I gross seventy-five and a Chinese puzzle.
Cosmic joke, it reads: chicken or egg?
Q: What is your writing process?
A: I keep a notebook and write down thoughts, images, observations, overheard dialogue, etc.  Then I transfer these notes to the computer, looking for where the images intersect or where the disparate thoughts collide.  Since I write both poetry and fiction, sometimes these notes become a poem and other times they develop into a story.
Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?
A: I just picked up Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke.  She writes of grief, memory, of being a mother and being a daughter—and so much more.  She is also a fiction writer, so many of her poems read to me as micro-stories.
Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?
A: I think I’d just like to go to a cabin in the woods near a lake.  I don’t want to go anywhere too beautiful or exciting, like Venice or Paris, because then I’d be too tempted to go exploring instead of writing.
Tina Egnoski is the author of In the Time of the Feast Flowers, winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize (Texas Review Press, 2012), and Perishables, which won the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2010).  Her work, both poetry and fiction, has been published in a number of literary journals, including Cimarron Review, Folio, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Louisville Review.  She grew up in Florida and currently lives in New England.