Here is Part 2 of our story, Life As An Emerging Poet. On Monday, we posted Part 1 featuring an interview with Glenn Shaheen. Poets Glenn Shaheen and Lauren Berry will give a reading from their work on Thursday, June 7th, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore. For more information, visit www.brazosbookstore.com
Lauren Berry, who received her MFA from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, was a National Poetry Series winner in 2009 for her first collection of poetry, The Lifting Dress. Her book was selected by Terrance Hayes and published by Penguin. Among the many eminent names that Lauren lists in her acknowledgements page, we are proud that Inprint is the first! Lauren was the recipient of the Inprint Paul Verlaine Prize in Poetry and served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast, the nationally renowned literary journal published by the graduate students in the UH CWP. We are happy to have her back in Houston after a year teaching in Wisconsin, and were able to catch up with her this week.
Inprint: Can you tell us what you are doing now, career-wise?
Lauren: Right now I have the pleasure of teaching twelfth grade English and ballet at YES Prep North Central. Our campus is a charter school with a drive to get low-income students in Houston into college with the expectation that they will return to our beloved city and devote themselves to better serving its community. YES is an acronym for Youth Engaged in Service, a commitment which informs much of the work that we do. In the fall, I will start my third year with the school.
Lauren: My work for YES Prep keeps me extremely busy, although I try to stay disciplined and write for an hour or so on Saturday mornings and for several hours a day during any major break in the school year. Since The Lifting Dress was released last summer, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from poetry in order to focus on a genre that I have always been enamored of—non-fiction. On Thursday I plan to read a couple of new poems as well as a non-fiction essay that I have been devoted to for the past couple of months.
Poets Glenn Shaheen and Lauren Berry will give a reading from their work on Thursday, June 7th, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore. For more information, visit www.brazosbookstore.com
Inprint: You open your book, The Lifting Dress, with an epitaph by Anne Sexton. Could you comment briefly about the influence she had on you?
Lauren: I selected Anne Sexton’s line mainly because I wanted it to set a tone for the book, which is to say I wanted to steer clear from categorizing the main character, The Just-Bled Girl, as either vixen or victim. More than this, I sought out to demonstrate the way that one’s point of view would shift after a traumatic experience; the quote suggests that there is an offering to be made out of anger, and I believe in that premise. I think of the book as a collection of Rorschach tests taken after the event that is trauma. In this way, each poem serves as its own energetic piece of art, vibrating toward healing.