The Sandpipers

 

It’s time for a ghost story—now,

while opalescent giants, dark-robed, stride

over us, hair blazing with the night

to come—

they imagine themselves

masked, bejeweled, descending

to the asylum window. The inmate’s lament—

 

They came in the night and stole my head.

What did they do with it? My old green head.

 

The jabber-chorus rises. I hide her nights from her.

No, I do, I do. Why is she afraid?

The rustling curtains, the rag in the corner—

 

Deep in the deep time when night and morning

fuse, I woke listening and felt

for my heart—nothing.

From afar, the sonorous call of a foghorn. Rising

into the window, I peered through the shades—

all was cloud—

 

autumn rage. Crows

wheel high in the light. Underneath,

undulating within the tide pool,

a horrible rose.

 

It’s not winter that frightens.

 

Predawn. I cast my line—

soon the waters will gleam and boil;

soon—soon enough—

I’ll catch the sun.

 

– Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

* * * * *

 

“Isn’t that what poetry is, a home for the mad?”

– an interview with Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Hi Amee. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak to Burning House Press.

Hello, Miggy. It’s lovely to be here in the Burning House. Thanks for inviting me.

Why poetry?

Because I’m a bit mad, I suppose. Isn’t that what poetry is, a home for the mad? That’s what I always took it to be. Actually, I run across a surprising amount of contemporary poetry that sounds as though it’s written by and for sane people, and that boggles me. Are the tourists taking over the asylum? I really don’t know what to say to that. I guess I missed the memo.

When did you start writing poems?

I wrote my first poem when I was 11. It was about a sunset and it was terrible. Shortly after that I thought it would be fun to write a scary poem in the style of Edgar Allan Poe—I’d been reading The Tell-Tale Heart when my folks weren’t around—so I wrote a poem about a group of shadows that followed me everywhere. I foolishly showed it to my Norwegian grandma, who lived with us, without any preamble about what I was trying to do. Imagine every film you’ve ever seen about a creepy kid who makes creepy artwork. Yeah, it was like that. I could tell by the look on her face that she thought something was seriously wrong with me. She swept to her room in a dramatic burst of silence that boded ill—I had to get my mother to intervene on my behalf and explain the situation to her. So that was a mess. Nonetheless, I wasn’t deterred, and told myself I’d be a poet someday. I spent many years after that not writing any poems at all but thinking of myself as a poet anyway. I was a weird kid.

How would you describe your process when writing poetry?

The process has changed over time. In the beginning, it was like I’d unleashed a tidal wave—the poems would constantly come to me and interrupt what I was doing. It was tiring scrambling after them and writing them all down, but it was also invigorating and a lot of fun. I wrote 300 poems in my first few months of regular writing, which was during my summer break from getting my B.A. in Philosophy and English. (College was a tumultuous experience for me in a number of ways. The English part of my degree in particular was all about jumping through hoops, and I daydreamed my way through it. I got straight A’s by figuring out what I could ignore. It was hilarious.) Later, while I was working in a café and had more free time, I wrote 5 short poems a day for a year—just writing, not revising. Of course, halfway through the year I got bored with the idea, so I invented four different alphabets and started writing my poems in code. Several hundred of my poems from that time are written in various mixtures of the four alphabets, and I can’t actually read them anymore. The code-key is written down somewhere.

Well, I don’t think I could even manage one poem a day now, because I just don’t generate the same volume anymore. I went through a spurt again recently, and the experience was horrible—it felt like I couldn’t stop writing, like I wasn’t in control. I got my ass completely kicked by the muse, and the result was a bunch of mad drivel. It sucked so much that it made me hate poetry. So I stopped writing completely for a while, and seriously considered giving it up altogether. But of course I couldn’t really give it up. Now I’m much more focused on pushing myself, on pushing the boundaries of language. I’ll write ten poems, edit the hell out of them over a period of days or weeks, then completely tear them up and mix them around, taking the best lines and boiling them down into only four or five poems—or three, or two. It’s completely ruthless, a bloodbath. Few pieces make it out alive, and none of them intact. I’ve become a Frankenstein, making monsters for myself out of chopped-up poems. Time is a very important part of the process. I can’t tell if something truly works until I live with it for a while. If it doesn’t work, I kill it. No mercy. If anything, I’m too lenient, and still end up with pieces that aren’t quite right, or that I hate in a few months. So I have to keep pushing, keep improving. Improvement makes me very happy. One saving grace about having few published pieces is that I have relatively little work out in the world to mock me with imperfection.

Do you have any obsessions (or deep concerns), are they evident or recurrent in your work, and what are they?

Absolutely. I’d say that I write because of my obsessions rather than the other way around, and that they make up the bulk of my work. Death is the main one. I had a seizure when I was five, and I had to undergo lots of unpleasant medical tests—the blood test in particular was traumatic. They took vial after vial. For many years afterwards I’d feel faint at the mere mention of the word ‘blood’. I’ve passed out more than once because of it. To this day I’m violently terrified by the idea of having blood drawn. Anyway, the test results were abnormal, and the doctors put me on phenobarbital for several years. I think the experience made me viscerally aware of my own mortality at an age when I wasn’t able to process the idea.

Nature is my other main obsession. I grew up in Vancouver, Washington, which is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, an evergreen land of rain and rivers and waterfalls and volcanoes and moss and ferns and looming, sprawling Douglas firs. It’s ravishingly beautiful, and a bit sinister, a bit Gothic. It’s fecund beyond belief and impossible to ignore. Overwhelming. Hell, Mt. St. Helens even erupted while we were living there. That was way back in 1980 and I was only three, but it made enough of an impression on me that I remember getting ash in our gutters. When I was very young, nature was often a source of an almost mystical sense of joy for me. Growing up there, I tended to project myself out onto the landscape. I saw myself as part of it, and there’s something unnerving about that, despite the joy. I think it messes with one’s sense of boundaries. Eventually, nature always extinguishes us. My third obsession is describing and finding a way to deal with Existential anxiety and depression. I think this obsession arises out of the other two—it’s a natural progression for a thinking person to have. I’ve been dealing with Existential issues in one form or another for most of my life. The forth is consciousness—what is it? How does it arise? What exactly is this thing we call a ‘self’? I’ve been thinking about this since I was a kid because I was exposed to Hinduism at an early age.

My parents are followers of Ramana Maharshi, an Indian guru who advocated Self-Enquiry—a form of meditation concentrating on the question, “Who am I?” The goal is to dissolve the ego and merge with the divine. Although I’m an atheist at this point and completely non-religious, I think there are a number of important philosophical and scientific issues here. How, exactly, did consciousness evolve in our species? Why did it evolve? Did it evolve as a side-effect of some other trait? Is the ‘self’ in some sense a fiction? Is it a single entity, or merely the appearance of one? Is it a collective of smaller ‘selves’? Is it a story told by the brain? Is it an illusion? How much of what goes on in our head is instinct—is consciousness, in large part, merely what instinct feels like from the inside? All of these questions and issues have been swirling around in my head for decades. Poetry is a way of dealing with them.

 

* * * * *

 

Cascade Park

 

Rotting on the lawn,

a storm-slain birch, side-blown,

entrails ruptured in squid-death rapture.

 

Hypnotized magnolia blooms float

though the gloom—

pearl-dark lilies of the air.

 

She risks all, turning her back

to the pane. Doorbell—

rocking like a crib like a crazy boat the sunset

slides across the doorsill dead at her—yet

nothing’s there.

In the sky, a grin

swept by scudding waves.

 

Songbirds sip from a rain-pool. Birdsongs

answer in the grey-pressed gloam.

 

Careless witches from the cupboard creep forth,

fanging my neck into a bruise. I can’t wake

and the dream presses into grey expectancy—

prowling the nursery till dawn, my childhood terrier.

 

Scorched oak, moss-fed shallows. Ochre butterflies. Torn—

 

In the river-hushed suburbs, a room

of jagged wounds—

a mouth broken with a hammer.

Under the pillow, milk teeth

centuries old.

 

– Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

* * * * *

 

 

You were home-schooled as a child – what effect, if any, has this formative experience had on the poetry you write?

The effect has been incalculable. Indeed, I suspect the only way of determining it would be to meet an alternate-universe version of myself who went through the school system and compare poems—in all likelihood, she wouldn’t even be a writer. Probably the most important aspect of the experience is that it firmly established me as an outsider from the outset. My sister and I were the weird kids in the neighborhood. We weren’t just homeschooled, we were half Iranian, so we didn’t look like anyone else, and to top it off our mother made all of our clothes. Sure, we made some friends, but there were times when we couldn’t walk around outside our house without having the neighbor kids follow us around on their bikes and yell at us “Home Girls! Home Girls!” It didn’t make me want to fit in, quite the opposite—I thought they were a pack of idiots, and I hated everything they stood for. To make matters more complicated, we also didn’t fit in with the other homeschoolers we knew, most of whom were fundamentalist Christians and highly religious. Our own household was quite different, quite the multicultural jumble: Although we’re Iranian, we’re also a quarter Norwegian and a quarter English/Scottish; our mom spent much of her childhood in Ottawa; we prayed like Muslims because our dad was born and raised Muslim, but we followed a Hindu philosophy; our live-in Norwegian-American grandma was a staunch atheist. Our outlook on everything—including the United States—was fundamentally different. So it’s not that we weren’t around other kids, it’s that we had a difficult time connecting with the kids we knew. I spent a large part of my childhood and teens alone and reading or daydreaming, inventing imaginary friends for myself. I invested most of my energy in the worlds I kept in my head. I think that sort of outsider experience fundamentally alters people, and thus alters everything they do. My perception of the world was fundamentally shaped by these experiences. Also, being alone a lot at a young age lets the natural and individual qualities of the mind assert themselves without the sort of hindrance that occurs when one is surrounded by teachers and classmates and friends.

Your poetry utilises incredibly striking imagery – what is your relationship to the image, and are you interested in visual arts such as photography, film and painting?

The visual arts play an integral role in my life. I’ve been fascinated with cameras since I was a kid—I actually wanted to be a photographer at one point, and took several years of photography classes as a teenager. I still take lots of photos, although these days I only shoot digital. When I’m stressed out, there’s nothing I love more than going on walks and shooting hundreds of photographs. It’s relaxing because it’s a way of thinking with the eyes—I can block everything else out. I can successfully capture the flickers of sunlight that so frustrate me as a poet. Photography is all about light, and that fascinates me. I also draw a little, although not as much as I did when I was younger. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of looking at paintings and watching films—especially if they’re strange, intense, or surreal. I love Expressionism and Cubism. I enjoy Hitchcock and Welles and Fellini and Lynch. I’ve watched Apocalypse Now Redux over and over—I’m sure it’s influenced me. I also love good television—it would be a mistake to deny it as an art form. Lately I’ve been enjoying the marvellously acted Bates Motel, a modern reimagining of Psycho. I just really enjoy watching and looking at things, you know. It feels like I’m feeding my brain. My eyes seem to be constantly aware even when I’m working or writing or otherwise engaged. The downside to this is that I quickly get depressed if I’m in a visually impoverished environment—things like sunlight on an old wooden table make me absurdly happy, whereas flimsy plastic crap and indoor lighting makes me tired and ill. My relationship to the poetic image is a bit messed-up. I love a good image, but sometimes I think modern poetry suffers from the tyranny of the image. At times I write without any images at all. I have something of an iconoclastic side which is inherently at odds with image-creation.

You have written more than 3,500 poems over the course of your life, but haven’t been a writer who has prioritised publication or the writing industry. What function has the writing of poetry fulfilled for you within your life?

I suppose at its most basic, poetry gives me a reason to exist. I’m not sure it has ever been an end in itself, but always a means for me to come to some sort of understanding with the universe. I think that ultimately we all need some sort of elaborate distraction in order to be here, to do what people do—to exist as conscious animals. For me, poetry is that distraction. However, I like to think that if I couldn’t write poetry anymore, I’d be able to find something else to take its place, something that’s also healthy. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. I’ve done at least my share of drinking—if not more—and I don’t want to go back to that sort of thing.

What is your relationship to the mainstream poetry industry?

Perhaps not surprisingly given my background, I consider myself an outsider, and I’m happy with that designation. If those in the industry like my work, that’s great, but my enjoyment of the process isn’t contingent upon acceptance. That’s not to say the idea of publication doesn’t have its attraction—it does. Writing is an act of communication, and I think there’s always the hope that someday it will mean something to someone else, perhaps some distant stranger in a future time. As a child, the magic of the printed word—the process of minds connecting over time—fascinated me. It’s like a charm against death, a way for the mind to keep interacting with the world after the whole dust-biting bit. However, publication is no guarantee. Indeed, even fame in the present is no guarantee that one will continue to be read and loved, and fame in and of itself doesn’t interest me. In all likelihood, I’ll just have to content myself with the dream.

But getting back to the question, I highly value the work of outsiders. While I respect—to a point—the scholarship and dedication it takes to get an advanced degree and to teach, I deeply doubt whether getting an MFA is really the best way to become a great poet, or even an uncommonly good one. I suspect that the MFA system is ultimately about making money off of the dreams of aspiring writers—I think that it’s trying to sell them something they don’t really need, and might be better off without. The best writers of the past have rarely been entrenched in the university system, and I don’t think that’s an accident. Would the Brontёs have been better writers if they’d spent years having random professors and wanna-be writers shape their work? Too many cooks. The industry claims to refine and produce individual voices, but when so much of what’s being produced sounds alike, I question that.

Speaking for myself, it’s a matter of trust. I simply don’t trust most people—professors, fellow students, etc.—to shape my vision, to get their hands into my brain and muck around. Screw that! Especially when I was younger and just starting out, I was very protective of my vision. At this point in time I’m less concerned about external voices, because I’m confident enough that I can listen to other points of view without feeling twisted by them. After doing my own thing for years and years, the process I’m currently going through—submitting, revising, submitting—has improved my work. I think I’ve figured out how to sharpen myself against the current standards without bowing to them. However, it’s important to note that I’m still doing my own critiquing. What has changed is that I’m finally engaging with the system—via the submission process—instead of keeping to myself.

I should add that this whole issue is a bit tricky, because the value of art and scholarship is on shaky ground here in the United States right now. There’s been a strong rise of anti-intellectual sentiment that scares me. Truth itself is under fire. That idiot Trump and his band of fascist Trumpets—if they ever figure out how to run an administration—are out to undermine anything beautiful or intellectual or true, and instead pump every spare penny into the military and the pockets of the rich. I have my own concerns about the MFA system, but when it comes down to it, I’ll pick the universities over Trump and his ilk every goddamn time. I’m on the side of art and culture and science and truth, and so are the universities. The relationship that artists have to the universities and to the mainstream art culture has always been complex. Artists are frequently exploited by the system, yet it’s the system that grants them the immortality they seek. It’s a deeply messed-up relationship.

You’re currently working on compiling a chapbook of poems spanning over 30 years of your writing life – what has that process been like, and what have been the challenges when collating and editing a collection from such a broad time-span?

I think my main talent is being able to choose, to pick out things that I like. I’m almost unnaturally good at this, so rummaging through a stack of notebooks spanning three decades and picking out 24 journal entries to represent my entire life was shockingly easy. It only took me a few hours. I had the first draft typed up and ready in a couple of days. Of course, most of my journal entries are complete rubbish, not the sort of thing anyone would want to read, so there were really only a few good things to choose from. Something that stood out was how much I struggled to express myself when I was a child. I don’t think I was a natural writer. I had to work my ass off to come close to saying what I wanted to say, and I failed much of the time. Writing was almost embarrassingly difficult for me. I have a couple of journals from when I was 12 where this struggle is particularly pronounced, where I become repeatedly frustrated with the process and complain that I don’t know how to capture things in words. In a way, that’s the story of my writing life—no matter what level of expression I’ve mastered, I’m inevitably thrust up against the fence, grasping through the wires for something that’s out of reach. I’m constantly doing battle with the ineffable. At 12, I frequently resorted to lots of exclamation marks. Anyway, the real work in putting the chapbook together has been polishing the damn thing. This is the time-consuming part. I need to carefully consider what needs to be fixed, and how to fix it. I enjoy this part, but I can’t rush it.

In many of your poems, there is an absence of the use of the authorial ‘I’ – to what extent is this a conscious choice within your work, and what factors and forces motivate this decision?

Interesting question. I think my early exposure to Hindu philosophy has something to do with it. I’ve also read (in translation) lots of classic Persian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese authors—and they all have different takes on the ego than Western authors do. Moreover, when I read Eastern and Middle Eastern work, my experience is probably different than that of the average Westerner because I was raised outside of the Christian perspective. Modern Christianity elevates the status of the individual in the universe—the goal involves retaining or even glorifying one’s individuality, not obliterating the self or merging with the Vastness.

There are also psychological reasons why I’m uncomfortable with too much ego in my work. I get restive trapped inside my skull. Although I enjoy exploring certain parts of my mind as a way to study human minds in general, I get sick of myself, of always being imprisoned within myself. I jump at the chance to become a dying pine tree or a flock of crows or a pebble on the side of the road. I do use the first person, but it’s often a mask, a distorted version of myself, or an imagined character. I want weirdness, and it doesn’t have to be human weirdness. As a poet, I feel the need to reach down into my unconscious and pull up all the misshapen fish and lizards and shrews and monkeys and dinosaurs and extremophiles and bits of exploded stars that are bubbling around in there. It’s like going deep-sea fishing. A few years back I put together a collection of 360 short poems each written from the viewpoint of a different speaker, not all of them human. The attraction was very much that I was turning myself into 360 other voices. I was on a huge Shakespeare kick at the time, and it was my way of grappling with the man. I spent over three years writing and rewriting it, and in the end it was a failure, which is pretty much to be expected when taking on Shakespeare. I got a lot out of the experience, but I have no interest in publishing it as it is. Maybe one day I’ll redo it, but it’s basically worthless right now. I’d probably have to scrap the whole thing and start over. I did manage to salvage a few pieces, including one that’s upcoming in Right Hand Pointing. I think it’s coming out in the May issue.

The chapbook I’m working on now is more ego-rooted than much of my other work because it’s based on old journal entries. By default, there’s a continuous sense of ego running throughout the collection. However, because it sprays merely a handful of episodes from my life out over a period of 30 years, it has a way of highlighting the brevity and insignificance of the individual against the bewildering wastes of time. At least, that’s the idea behind it. I love thinking about vast tracts of time, about the universe coming into being over billions of years. We’re all less than mayflies.

What are the most difficult aspects of writing poetry?

Trying to capture sunlight in words. Trying to capture evergreens in words. Trying to capture life and the universe in words. Words aren’t designed to do any of that. The whole poetic endeavor is probably a fool’s game, a great butterfly chase for some fabulous phosphorus moth that doesn’t exist.

 

* * * * *

 

Seamstress

 

The bride-thread squiggling

from the dress

gives me the jolt-horrors

 

—tangled spider, dandelion crown—

 

it quivers across the floor and out the window, alarming

the starlings this wind-born morning when nothing’s right because

nothing’s dead.

 

Grandmother clock—

cold face in the stair-top dark.

 

Rising uncoiled, the thread

becomes the rain-loved heartstring of a balloon

streaming—glee-struck and crab-wild—over

detritus-threaded park woods. Such sky—

I befriend anew my jagged scissors, thinking

I’ll pink the hell out of you.

 

Clock-face—

the sounding stick seeks

a sun to cut

a chord to darken. Roses, roses

to the worm-worn ground.

 

I catch sight of myself, filose and alive.

 

The blood-light at morning—

seagulls scream.

 

– Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

* * * * *

 

 

Do you enjoy reading your poems aloud, and what is your relationship to the oral tradition of poetry?

I have a very strong sense of sound in my head when I think or read, perhaps because my mom read to me daily when I was growing up. When I think in words, I’m very aware of the sounds they make. So although I do read my work aloud sometimes, I never notice this great difference that people talk about. As long as I don’t stutter—which I occasionally do—then it sounds like I expect it to sound.

For me, I think the question is one of performance. I’ve done some public readings in my own persona, and it felt all wrong. I like the idea of memorizing the pieces and acting them out, of donning a stage persona. My alter ego is probably an actor who plays outlandish villains—someone like Alan Rickman or Andrew Scott. I have the greatest respect for actors and what they do. The art of Performance is a strange one—you’ve got to reach into something bigger than yourself in order to project big and successfully put on a good show. If I could perform my pieces like some mad villain, I’d totally dig it. There’s a dark undercurrent to most of my pieces, so I think it could work. Or I could just do “Jabberwocky” instead. Likewise, if I go to a reading, I want to see something dramatic and over-the-top. I hear that Dickens would go thoroughly mad at his readings, acting out the different characters. That’s what I want. Just about the worst thing an artist can do to me is to bore me. There’s too much sanity and mundane realism in art for my taste. I want art to be a heightened experience.

What has poetry taught you?

It’s taught me how to nurture something. Normally I’m rather bad at that because I’m absentminded. Houseplants die on me because I forget to water them. But building a writing mechanism within the mind takes a lot of work and care over many years—one needs to nurture it, or it will die. I suspect that any sustained development of a creative faculty requires such nurturing.

Do you have a favourite poet or poets, who would they be, and why?

Shakespeare, hands down. I fell in love with him when I was 12 and saw the old Olivier production of Hamlet on television. It’s an imperfect production, but I was tickled pink anyway, completely hooked. I thumbed through our copy of Bartlett’s and poured over the quotes from the play. For weeks afterwards I went around the house repeating, “That he’s mad, ‘tis true, ‘tis true ‘tis pity, / And pity ‘tis ‘tis true.” I found it perfectly hilarious, just the cat’s pajamas. At his best, Shakespeare achieves something like verbal counterpoint—a glorious juxtaposition and intertwining of meanings and sounds. The High Tragedies are my favorites, plus Henry IV, Part 1 and Twelfth Night. They’re all old friends. I’ve read Hamlet 15 or so times in different editions—I lost count a while back. I should read it again. I miss it when I don’t interact with it for a while. I’m so thankful I live in a post-Shakespearean world. Imagine living before him and missing out on all that—

The only other author I feel this same strength of love for is Emily Brontё. I read Wuthering Heights when I was 10 and it cemented my love for literature like nothing else. She has a deep understanding of the sublimity and horror in nature. Her sense of a haunted landscape strongly recalls King Lear—those two works are twins, I think. The great haiku poets Bashō and Buson are also near the top of my list. I can always go back to them and learn something new. I immersed myself in them around the time I began writing poems regularly, and they had an enormous impact on me. Buson, who was a painter as well, has one of my favorite poems of all time: “A field of mustard / no whale in sight, / the sea darkening.” (Translated by Robert Hass.) The sense of color and light in this image calls to mind one of my favorite paintings, Wheatfield with Crows by Van Gogh.

Other poets who stand out for me include Dylan Thomas and Gerard Manly Hopkins. I love James Joyce—the hilarious, brilliant, and mythic word play of Finnegans Wake has been a big influence on me. It’s a deeply funny book. I also love bilingual books of poetry; I have quite a few in different languages. Even though I really only know one language (I took Latin in college but I forget most of it), I get bored reading in English all of the damn time, so I push myself to read fragments of other languages—including Greek and Chinese—a word or two or three at a time. Recently I’ve been reading Octavio Paz—I’ve picked up some Spanish that way. I’m probably too lazy to seriously study another language. I like to take short cuts and pick out shiny new words that catch my eye.

What was the last poem or piece of art you saw that left an impression on you?  

I’m not easily impressed in a good way by written work, my own or anyone else’s. My standards are almost impossibly high. In fact, I have to be careful, because if I try to plow through a bunch of poems that I dislike or think are bad, it has a physical effect on me—a nails-on-chalkboard-type attack on my senses. It certainly leaves an impression. Nasty stuff. I’ve been known to throw some big-name poetry journals across the room after reading something that goes down the wrong way. When it comes to visual art, however, I’m impressed on a daily basis. I’ve arranged my Twitter feed so that it’s full of artwork, and many pieces jump out at me. I retweet a lot of them. However, only a small number of them linger in my mind. Last year I saw a mysterious photograph by Manuel Álvarez Bravo that I keep thinking about, and that’s the one that comes back to me now. If I ever achieve in words what he achieves here in light, I’ll be very happy indeed.

How do you think the internet has changed poetry?

The level of accessibility is mind-blowing. I think the boom of online journals is fantastic—it has helped to equalize the playing field for those of us outside the mainstream industry. It has also made the submission process less of a burden for writers. I tried going the snail-mail route in the past, and I freaking hated it. If it weren’t for the internet, I doubt I’d have anything published. 

I love the internet because I love information, and I love access to information. Indeed, that’s why I love books so much—they’re a means to information. I like to think that people in the future will look back at the dawn of the internet and wonder what it was like to be us. We—right here, right now—are witnesses to something incredible. I only hope the governments don’t turn the internet against us and use it to create a much more restrictive society than the one we already have. We’ve opened the door to mass surveillance on a global scale, and that deeply worries me. There are many ways this could play out, and few of them are good.

What one thing would you pass on to someone who wanted to begin practising poetry? 

Guard your vision like a jealous lover, like a pale flame. This means learning how to critique and shape your own work until the flame is strong.

What is next for Amee Nassrene Broumand?

I’d like to put together a thematic collection that I can go back to and enjoy—preferably something experimental and conceptually exciting. It sounds fairly simple, but it’s not. I’m picky about my work, and I tend to get bored with pieces once I’ve finished them. I’m more inclined to cannibalize my poems and turn them into something different than to preserve them in a book. I’ve put together collections in the past only to break them up again. But I think I’m ready to go for the whole book gig in a big way.

If the house was burning and you could only take one book with you, which book would you take?

I’m going to have to say a blank book. I like to think the most exciting book is the one that hasn’t been written yet. Besides, how else am I going to write about the fire?

Thank you, Amee! 

Delighted to be asked. Thanks, Miggy!

 

 

 

Broumand_Author photo

 

Amee Nassrene Broumand’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Word Riot, Right Hand Pointing, Rivet, The Ghazal Page, Modern Haiku, and elsewhere. The daughter of an Iranian immigrant, she was born near Los Angeles and homeschooled in the Pacific Northwest. She has a B.A. in Philosophy and English. A loner and a self-taught poet, she has privately written over 3,500 poems since 1999. The poems included here are revisions from an unpublished manuscript of 360 poems—each in the voice of a different speaker—that she wrote many years ago.

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