Peggy Dobreer: The TNB Self-InterviewBy Peggy Dobreer
August 03, 2018
What is it about poetry as opposed to other genres?
I guess it’s the wordplay; the truly infinite number of ways that exist for using language and syntax in poetry that other genres don’t allow. Poetry by its own nature adheres to something ineffable and far more embracing than the Chicago Style Manuel. Restrictions that hinder creativity annoy me anyway. Poetry, on the other hand, is viscerally and emotionally freeing.
As a long time choreographer and teacher of improvised performance arts, I learned from the very beginning that any individual’s freely flowing and naturally occurring continuum of creative thought and action is hindered only by their own private wounds and learned or imposed behaviors. Most teaching of improvisation actually involves unlearning habitual patterns. And all writing at its inception is improvised. For me writing poetry is remedial work for the creative spirit. I love that work. The need for it, is at the core of my driving interest in writing poetry for the last 20 years.
Do you actually write every day?
I do, though sometimes it may only be a list on my way to a full day of activities. But most of my days really do include some reading, research, conscious exploration, and actual writing. And of those writerly days, some are much more fruitful than others, and when I say fruitful, I don’t just mean work that actually lands on the page and is published, but any and all writing that starts out somewhere and leaves you off somewhere else. That is good writing in my mind.
What is your first experience of being moved by poetry.
My grandmother used to sing to me. She was an immigrant from Lithuania, who came to the US during the Pogroms. Since her English was not good enough to translate the lullabies she knew as a child, she would simply choose a few syllables, and repeat them over and over in tune with the melody. I truly believe that was my first experience of meter even before actual words came into the picture. My first foray into traditional poetry, was in Middle School, when I was assigned to memorize Oh Captain, My Captain. I was hooked. And then when I got into theatre, Shakespeard. The Sonnets. Oh yes, captivated.
What do you think your poetry says?
Well???….I know what it doesn’t say. Nothing much too lofty or smart or educational. My poetry asks a lot of questions. It looks at love, landscapes, the natural world, politics, superstitions and juxtapositions. Paradox and confusion play large roles. Nature and the eroticism of being in a human body factor in. Adventure and the unknown capture me. Stories bump up against each other, often in one very short poem. I don’t think of it as a deficit of attention, but a plethora of making connection.
[…] landscapes, the natural world, politics, superstitions and juxtapositions,” she said in a Nervous Breakdown interview, among other […]