Your poetry has been called dark, dangerous and mordant. How do you feel about that?

Part of me accepts it. Another part cringes—the way I did when a former boyfriend nicknamed me the “Shadow Queen.” I cringe, of course, because there’s truth in it.

Violence touched me early in childhood, and I’ve spent years grappling with what Jung termed the “shadow”—those blacker aspects of our humanity. You know, the ones we like to suppress, disown and project onto others.

Writing poetry, in particular, helps me to speak the unspeakable; to make meaning of the incomprehensible; to bring all that unconscious stuff into consciousness so it can be integrated and, ultimately, transformed.

Merlot makes her sad, always has.
When the wet season starts, she pours early,

drinks deep into afternoon. Gone
are doubt-free days of communion,

salvation in a single sip. The sky, now
a punched eye, swells. Steeples vanish.

At night in a stranger’s bed, his chest
a bare wall she can beat, sex an excuse