An Interview with Amelia Gorman

Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California. She enjoys exploring the redwoods and coasts with her dogs and foster dogs. Some of her recent poetry has appeared in Penumbric, Vastarien, and The Deadlands and her first chapbook, FIeld Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota is available from Interstellar Flight Press.

Her poem Ice goes out appears in Pinhole Poetry’s launch issue.

Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context? 

I had been writing so much poetry about my life in Minnesota - my first chapbook, which was published only late last year, hangs entirely on Minnesota ecology. So when I found myself moving to the rural, north coast of California a couple years ago I had to ask myself a pretty hard question. What do I write about now? And at least for awhile, a lot of it was writing through my emotions of moving away from the place I had lived the longest and built a big, pretty good life.

What are you working on now? 

I'm trying to write a small collection of 15-20 sonnets about roundworms. I do a lot of dog rescue, and the first time I had to deworm some dogs led to deep dive on parasites, nematodes specifically, and I found some amazing quotes from old science books and wrote a few right away. I figured why not turn it into a chapbook length project and see if anyone out there likes real deep dives on nematodes as much as I do.

How or where or with what does a poem begin? 

I'm always thinking about the shapes of poems, and how to make them evoke their subject matter without being a concrete or visual poem. I do write a lot of sonnets, other received forms, and even sometimes concrete poetry but I'm mostly interested in more subtle ways of doing that. I tried to do that in Ice goes out - to have a sense of flow & recede that calls back to both a phone call and a lake full of ice in spring. Once I know the topic of a poem I might want to write about, my next question to myself is always how to shape groups of words and lines in a way that represents that specific topic.

Have you ever received advice (or has there been something you’ve learned on your own) about writing or revising poems that has made you a better poet? What was it? 

One of the best pieces of real, actionable advice I've received recently was to think about the title of the poem as the real first line. I've been considering that every time I title a poem lately - and of course how it flows into the "real" first line, and I think it's making my poems much more punchy and grabby from the very beginning.

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