Joan Hanna: We were so happy to have your poem, “I Dreamed Your Epic” in our January issue. I wonder if you could tell our readers about it’s origin.
Gay Giordano: I’m honored to be in a journal that actually focuses on this topic! So thank you!
Actually, this is the only truly autobiographical poem I’ve ever written. I’ve avoided my own childhood. It’s composed of so many secrets. My sister and I have no idea what was real and what was staged in our childhoods. A year ago I helped my parents move away. I was sweeping out the attic, and one white envelope was literally shining in the corner. I thought I’d cleaned out everything, but there it was, and its contents were shocking – answering one of the many questions I had always been haunted by. I will never know the answers to all of the holes in our story because they refuse to be told. But this one envelope, it was a gift and a curse. So much can actually be told on a single piece of paper. It was a revelation that as a poet I should already know.
JH: I love the recurring /images of the scarf and the throat. Can you talk a little about the use of this imagery?
GG: On a daily basis I never knew if my mother would be home. And every day when I got home we were somehow shocked to see each other. I always believed I made her feel doubly trapped in a life that was composed of so much disappointment for her. Every day was a kind of bloodletting, a gut-wrenching experience. My scarf was so tight, so aggressively tied. I look so much like her. I always felt she was immolating herself when she looked at me.
JH: I wonder if you could discuss some other themes in your poetry.
GG: I make up stories about other people. And they are always, with rare exceptions, an exploration of loneliness and displacement. Sounds trite – all poets address this. I try to find a way to make these stories a seduction, an experience which the reader senses is like a corset begging to be unlaced to find the person panting in there, praying to be found. The trickery of language is its ability to hide and reveal at the same time amidst its own pageantry.
JH: Please share links to other work with our readers.
GG: Almost all of my published work has appeared in print journals but here are two online journals that are accessible…
JH: Thank you for taking the time to talk about your poem and for discussing your process with our readers. Just one final question, Can you share with our readers what recovery means to you?
GG: For me it’s what makes you suddenly realize that you have something you NEED to recover from – that your normal state of affairs is not an acceptable one and that it does, usually with unbearable pain and effort, reveal itself to you as the inevitable outcome of your own participation in the drama you’ve written for yourself. And finally, if you’re lucky, you become a kind of curiosity to yourself which you use as a cipher to understand other people and how they live their own epics. That’s forgiveness, all around. And one of the most important forms of kindness.