Thursday, April 05, 2012

How I Came to Prepare This Collection: Anca Vlasopolos

First Signs

this afternoon a first mildness
after a hundred years of winter's thrall

a girl just on the edge of all the woes of love
let dangle her arm outside the window of a speeding car

watched her long fingers trail
thrill the warm skin of this rogue breeze

How I collect poems for a book


Anca Vlasopolos

For me, the organization of my poems whether in a collection or for a reading becomes of utmost importance, as is thematic unity. I take my cue from my predecessors—the British Romantic poets who saw the unity of the whole poetic work, and their successors, Baudelaire with Les Fleurs du mal and its chapters, as well as W. B. Yeats and his books, each answering and continuing the preceding work. I want to guide the reader along a thread that traces the journey of the poems so that they’re not like beads on a string, each equal and separate though tied together, but rather like moments along a walk taken in hyper-aware solitude.

Sometimes the journey follows the cycle of seasons, as in my new book, which also follows the hope, despair, and, again, the small sliver of hope about my younger daughter; sometimes it offers a narrative of the inception, growth, cresting, and death of love; sometimes I reach for the cumulative effect, as when I read a series of poems about homeless people around the campus where I teach, in the inner city of Detroit, in the hope that the differences among the “homeless” begin to individualize them rather than treat them as a social phenomenon. I believe that the scatter-shot approach to reading that I’ve observed in so many readings tends to fatigue the audience instead of pulling them along.

At each reading and in each collection of poems I’ve written, I try to end with poems that lead to a sliver of transcendence, that much-despised word of postmodernity. If poetry does not draw us out of ourselves toward a region we have not hitherto explored and felt on our skins and psyches, there’s not much use for it, I opine.

Anca Vlasopolos has just published a new collection of poetry, Walking Toward Solstice, a detective novel, a memoir—No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement, various short stories, over 200 poems, the poetry collection Penguins in a Warming World, and a nonfiction novel, The New Bedford Samurai. You can learn more about Anca at

The illustration in this lovely book are the work of Olivia D'Ambrogio, Anca's daughter, a marine biologist, writer and photographer.

This video was prepared about the time of the publication of Anca's last two books.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Maybe the first time I've read this kind of thing about poetry. Very interesting.