Black Lawrence Press
April 5, 2012

National Poetry Month Spotlight: James Reidel

The Krewe of Orpheus

Poems that pull his strings instead of him—
Operas in which his head sings on a ruff—
That Dance of Furies more leg than fury—
Painters who must like painting sheets pulled from people—
Fables of being steered by the arm through howling cave winds,
With just this flap, this flutter of ankle wings—
The way everyone makes it look like he cut in—
The way we treat him worse than a voodoo doll—
Making him watch his entrails in a tug-of-war,
Feel his sides stuffed back with hanks his own hair,
Those fingernails turning his quarters to chum,
Those girls racing along the bank by the bleeding glove of his face,
Feeding the scream stretched in it like breadcrumbs.
Not one of us stops ourselves,
We just keep his wreck afloat to whirl over the river’s drain to where it starts again,
Not one of us pulls his feet back over their bones,
Wades with him ashore,
Follows the trampled grass back for the lyre,
Which someone used on his privates for piano wire,
Helps him no closer than the little dog that curls forever carved,
Punished enough, and loyal at the foot of her tomb.


Q: What is your writing process?

A: It is this bolt of mental Christo cloth dropping over some subject. Then I tug it into a shape with little pulls at the end, like you give kite string, the strings of your hood, a ripcord.

I like the results as long as they don’t look too much like their furniture under their sheets. That said, strangely enough, I am very interested in writing into my verse its seizures, where to grasp them even more. The poem I have written for April is mythological kitsch to me from one angle. So, I have included this angle, made this pull to the whole cloth. You can pull this entire poem off the table while seeing it as true.

Q:  Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: Chloë Grace Moretz–to encourage her to write verse.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: The Land of Orplid or just a United States again, which may, indeed, be just as mythological.

James Reidel is currently preparing a new manuscript for Black Lawrence Press and his first book of poems in six years. He recently published two novels in translation by Franz Werfel, Pale Blue Ink in a Lady’s Hand (Godine, 2012) and The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (Godine, 2012).

Tagged: , ,