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Laura Potts

An Interview with Poet Laura Potts

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Hello Laura, thank you for taking the time to speak with me here on Burning House Press! I love the complex music of your work. What’s your relationship to sound and the oral tradition of poetry?

Always, in testament to its fundamentally oral heritage, sound has stood at the forefront of my work: that is, I have always tried to pay homage to the ancient verbal roots of poetry with an acute focus on just how moving sound can be. It is probably, in the words of Harold Bloom, my own anxiety of influence: the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound. There is no single prescriptive path which sound can take in poetry, and I think that appeals to the rebel in me. And I’ve studied it quite intensely really: I often apply scansion to Latin poetry to see the specific moments of gravity and levity which bring a line alive. And, of course, I always read my work out loud as I write: it may have one life on the page but it has another one aloud.

“the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound”

You had the chance to work at Dylan Thomas’s birthplace in Swansea. What was that like?

My summer there was the single most academic season of my young life. At first I’d planned to stay for a week or so, but that soon turned into a couple of months and I’m sure I learnt the equivalent of a whole degree in that time. I travelled from a small village in Carmarthen to Swansea each day, where I walked up the old hill of Cwmdonkin Drive and through the small black gate of number five which Dylan had pushed so many times. My time was largely spent reading, writing and researching his work. I wrote essays for The Dylan Thomas Society and saw a performance of Under Milk Wood. I drank in the pubs he drank in. I slept in his bedroom a night or two, with the old gas lamp still burning. I visited the boathouse in Laugharne which he shared with his wife, and even interviewed an old neighbour once. Yes, my broken old bookcase still models three rows of Dylan and always will. It was the summer to always remember. Continue reading “An Interview with Poet Laura Potts”

Three Poems by Laura Potts

The Body Broken

 

Mass and Sunday mourning pass the chancel black

and chalice-back of I, spire-spined and last to part

my plumping bud to take the nocturne wine. Mine

 

the softly hills, mine the spill and steeple-swing

of fruiting breasts and bells, yes. We break the bread

and bless. Lady in the lancet holds the apple mocking red.

 

Dappled chant and dark, ahead the blood-bright night

and first-light glass of gasping Eve, winter’s heave

hangs always here with heads that bow before the vow

 

to never grieve the leaving eyes of youth. Truth

is lost and winterworn. Borne away on snarling winds,

the greening drop of spring falls from my hair. The cleric’s

 

cloak is a darkly thing. My deeper, deeper throat

receives the gloaming sermon there, heir of the berry

dreamt to burst in his hand. Damn the vestal

 

up-and-swung of lust that Woman loved, budblood

and the Garden singing skin and pink bouquets, but

turn the tongue beyond the Book and in the darkest

 

places hold the harvest fruit and look above and long

to lasting-touch the apple that is loathed so much.

Such is Sunday mass and curse of we, the curled

 

Madonnas kneeling with a screaming in our skirts.

The weakly bread we break and nurse. And vow and

kneel and slaughter one more godless book of verse.

Continue reading “Three Poems by Laura Potts”

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