Cynthia Atkins: The TNB Self-InterviewBy Cynthia Atkins
April 06, 2020
There are many hats and selves in this collection, “Still-Life With God.” In fact, you have a poem, “My Persona,” where you say, “My persona /is filled with / bird song. It carries smiles in a jar.” So where do you place yourself in these poems as a speaker and as a writer?
I think people often mistake the fact that ‘the voice’ of the writer/speaker is not always the poet. My poems exist in many voices, sometimes my own biography, but very often, I am taking on a mask or a persona of another. I’ve always loved Elizabeth Bishop’s poems for the way she acquired many selves. Ultimately, these beings are all some part of me, in some incarnation—well, because they are my creation, out of my psyche, sometimes from memory, sometimes from my imagination. I am not beholden to anything but ‘the truth’ the poem tries to excavate.