I looked at the most common words in my newest book, APOCRYPHAL. It appears that they are “want,” “body,” “wear,” “father” and “Javi.” So I talk about each here.
My work has always been about wanting—usually, it’s the want of something unnatural: to be abused, to abuse, to want something that one shouldn’t (and I don’t mean someone’s husband, I mean someone’s father, someone’s blood, someone’s death). I spend an awful lot of time in life keeping together my sanity. Sometimes I am prudish. My friends will say, for example, “But you’re Lisa. How could you hate porn?” And secretly I will think, “I love it,” but in reality, I say it’s bad, and desire is dangerous, and the world is soulless. It’s because maybe I am in some ways, and my poetry lets me explore that.
I’m obsessed with the female form. I continuously decorate her and objectify her/myself as a way of understanding its appeal and my appeal and my own self-acceptance.
I suppose this connects with “Body.” A month or so ago, I was featured in The New York Daily News’ feature on female poets in NYC to watch. I wore a corset, because I was performing at a festival, and with a dead-stare toward the camera, I was captured as something for people to gawk at, question, villify. Me and the other poets, a few of us, were told, “you can’t look sexy and be a poet,” or “you need to use your appearance to sell your poetry.” I’ve never done that. I write poetry and exist in a body. And so what. It hurt me, like really hurt me, that the world could become such an animal in that instance, that our systemic sexism and fear-of-the-self would override someone’s ability to say, “I’m glad that poetry is getting attention,” no matter the medium. Especially women in poetry. We don’t need to conflate breasts or lips with a women’s work. There is no attachment, unless there is, and who cares either way. We don’t ask why men wear sweaters or jeans. Clearly, I’m still reeling. I then was featured in Relapse Magazine’s feature on poets in NYC. This is a fashion magazine, and so, ironically, I was all in black, completely shrouded by morning shadow, and we were centered in this colorful, superficial, fashion-oriented thing. No one questioned that shit. Because are poets are supposed to be in black, brooding? I hate the safety of that presumption. I’ll wear what I please or nothing at all.
I wrote APOCRYPHAL for anyone who has built their father or mother or lover into a phantom, because they’ve hurt, left or haunt them.
In all of my work, I create a male figure with whom I have sex, abuse, am abused-by, am used-by. I praise them. I am praised by them. It’s fake and it’s real. Through him I work out my pain and grief and the idea of gender norms. In APOCRYPHAL, it’s Javi. He’s a brunette, sort of tall, with ivory skin and a golden underglow. He speaks Spanish. He’s perfect and a tyrant. In my last book, ANDALUCIA, there was Alejandro. He was the same. I guess I am afraid of these people. But they tell the story.