Minadora Macheret talks about embodied poetry
and writing Love Me, Anyway
Please describe your journey toward writing poetry that reflects on the experience of living in the body. Have you always written this way, or did you come to it over time?
Growing up in a family full of doctors, it was hard to escape conversations about the body and its multiple functions. From this and a background in biology, I found myself looking for ways to reimagine, reclaim, and reexplain the body through my personal experiences. When I was properly diagnosed with PCOS and a couple of other diseases, I found myself reflecting on the ways in which disease is inherited and how that speaks within and through the body. I have only been seriously writing about the body for the last five years, but I came to it looking for ways in which my poems could offer a voice to people who often felt silenced by their disease or the lack of research done around their disease.
In Love Me, Anyway, you use both traditional and self-created mythologies to explore the bond between mother and child, the continuum between health and disease. How does investigating these subjects through the lens of mythos help you process their complexities?
It goes back to the act of reimagining and the idea that recentering disease through mythos allows you the distance to talk about the disease more truthfully and through imagery not normally associated with it. It also allows for you to give it a lineage/geneology, to give it roots that help you to see it more clearly.
I am drawn to the poem “Autogenesis.” It seems that the speaker in the poem is addressing a part of herself (“tell me about this little girl...”), is literally writing that part into being as she forms words on the page. Please say more about that particular poem—the process of writing it, what it means to you, anything you like.
That poem was written during a poetry workshop where we were using Dixit playing cards. We were using three cards each and the professor was calling out words we needed to use in the poem as we were writing. It was really about that creative space and where I was mentally. There’s a really good quote about sites of energy from Heidegger that explains it well: “Originally the word site suggests a place in which everything comes together, is concentrated… The site, the gathering power, gathers in and preserves all it has gathered, not like an encapsulating shell but rather by penetrating with its light all it has gathered, and only thus releasing it into its nature.” So, the exercise, the energy, the Dixit cards, the called out words, the emotional and mental space I was occupying, all leaked out from the site into this poem. Basically, I wanted to tell the story of this little girl who was existing in this alternative dimension. As she is existing or re-existing and writing herself onto the page, the body needs to be acknowledged—because what is she without a body?
But tell me about this little girl,
who holds a long, stretched-out balloon
on tied shoelace ends.
Tell me about the room she sits in,
its curve of pillars, those branches,
pretend to hold the body of the living.
Tell me about the white of her skin
how it makes angels swell,
open their mouths, teeth full,
an endless god-space. Tell me about
the dirge that holds her heart,
it is smoky, almost uninhabitable,
it tries to breathe in white light.
Tell me about the way she smiles—
forever running in place to conjure skin,
moans, and pain-memories dormant in her cells.
But, tell me what you want to remember,
the way the incubator displayed the crease of your arm,
plastic slats divided the little girl from her mother.
Did you hear how I told you, if you’re abiding
of the balloon, the heart, the checkered room
you will enter the mouth of a devil, and
come out breathing like god.
But tell me you are dreamless,
and I will remind you of capillaries
that push life through your body
forever spilling out onto envelopes
your dead mother forgot to sign.
Please share with our readers a list of 5-10 books you think we should read right now.
1. The Patient Admits by Avery M. Guess
2. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier
3.Four Reincarnations by Max Ritvo
4. Hands that Break and Scar by Sarah A. Chavez
5. Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness by Krista Radcliffe
6. The Bag of Broken Glass by Yerra Sugarman
7. The End of Pink by Kathryn Nuernberger
8. Saudade by Traci Brinhall
Some Rogue Agent fans are just beginning to explore what making art about the body would look like for them. What advice would you give to someone just starting down the path toward writing poetry that features the body?
Read as many books about the body, whether that’s poetry, nonfiction, biology textbooks, or research articles. Don’t be afraid to write about your experience regardless of how off the wall it may seem. Tell your story and respect the stories of others. Write as many drafts as you need to in order to write the story you need to write.
Minadora Macheret is a Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. She is a Poetry Editor for Devilfish Review and the Co-Coordinator of Poets in Pajamas Reading Series. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Red Paint Hill, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook, Love Me Anyway, from Porkbelly Press, 2018. She likes to travel across the country with her beagle, Aki.