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In response to Whitman:
Have you reckoned a thousand acres much?

Hi Walt. If you’re asking how Thomas Edison got into the river in the first place, it’s because I put him there. His work and the magnitude of which he depended on public approval tortured him—he had to escape. However, no matter how far he travelled from his art, it was within him. He sweat it out. Part of my journey in self-understanding is rooted in empathy with other characters. To imagine Thomas escaping his craft and into utter darkness is for me to find myself in the Amazon, for him to discover that he is still dreaming of light is for me to wake in the middle of giving-up with a hand twitching towards a pen.

 

Have you reckoned the earth much?

Oh, I’m sorry. You weren’t asking that at all then. Okay, yes, I’ve done a bit of travel. I was born in Queens, New York, and grew up on Long Island (which has its stigmas that I hope to have overcome, but ultimately I’m a short ride from ocean and to Manhattan.) I graduated from the State University of New Paltz, New York, a town upstate near Woodstock where the 60’s never left and you can still smell the tie-dye. I’ve studied abroad in New Zealand where I climbed glaciers and volcanoes and hitchhiked and spent my spring break in third world Samoa. I’ve been to Israel and floated in the Dead Sea. I haven’t reckoned the earth enough though, Walt. I miss the part of myself that moves constantly—but I suppose I’ll be able to travel more once this book tour kicks off.

 

Have you practiced so long to learn to read?

I do believe that the most valuable way to become a skilled writer is to read. Not just poetry books either, but novels of all varieties, newspapers, blogs, subtitles of foreign films—I think even the pulpiest of literature can shape our art. At the most basic level we learn what works and what doesn’t, but further we can see where other’s have stretched to understand the boundlessness of our own craft. Writing without reading is like trying to become a chef without tasting other’s food. You can’t. Additionally, I’m a huge Harry Potter buff, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated is my favorite book, and I’m currently reading Haruki Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I don’t read enough. I hate Kindles. I like to press my nose into the belly of a book, savor its smell.

 

Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Yes!—Especially my own. Understanding my art is like a therapy session with myself. I’ll find myself writing from the perspective of Penelope Pussycat (the object of Pepe Le Pew’s “affection”) and later learn I’m talking about rape culture—that I’m dissecting a charismatic “poster boy of romance” of childhood cartoons in an effort to dismantle a Lothario in my own life. In writing to the women competing on the television Bridalplasty and telling them that they are beautiful and loved before plastic surgery, I’m really confessing the reassurance that I need to hear myself. Most days I won’t realize any of this until much later. I can’t help but bleed into my own work.

 

What is the grass?

I’ve only mentioned grass (the literal translation, not the drug euphemism, which has a few more references coincidentally) once in my collection of poems, After the Witch Hunt. It’s in a flash fiction piece entitled “The Runaways”, a story about two abused women who are forced to disappear, change their names, and live off the land. Here, the grass represents that Spring always comes, that despite the wreckage of winter, the hands of men, something still grows. There is life. It’s a lesson I spent learning this year after unfettering myself from the jaws of an abusive relationship and its repercussions.

 

How could I answer the child?

I think the child in all of us is still very much awake. I believe we spend our adult lives, if we are not careful, punishing ourselves for the injustices done to that child. I’ve had several uncles and classmates growing up who have remarked on my weight and have spent much of my adolescence validating them by not taking care of my body. I think we have to remind the child of her worthiness, of how she is loved. I think we have to let the child out to play, to wander, to assure her that what she is doing is, in fact, enough.

 

What do you think has become of the young and old men?

My father is moving to Florida with his new wife soon. His house has a “sold” sign on it that makes me cry. I don’t think he understands me and my fear is that he never will, but there is definitely love. As for the young men—most were never men at all. The ones who hurt me are self-imploding. I once thought I’d dance in the firework of their destruction, but I no longer hunt for blood. The thing about closure is that it comes when you don’t seem to need it anymore.

 

And what do you think has become of the women and children?

The women and the children are one. They are fighting the idea that they should be seen and not heard. They are writing their stories, publishing them in books, fighting the good fight. The woman will never be abused again, she can recognize the first glimmer of it. The child is no longer apologizing for her body. Neither of them are victims of what happened to them, they are survivors. You are reading their story right now.

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MEGAN FALLEY is one of a mere handful of poets to be published both on Penmanship Books and Write Bloody Press. After representing SUNY New Paltz for four years on the college slam team, Megan later earned her degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and returned to New Paltz to coach the team. In 2009 she helped found the second largest collegiate spoken word tournament in the country, The Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational. In 2010 she represented New York City on a competing team at the National Poetry Slam and her work began appearing in several literary magazines and anthologies. She has authored four chapbooks and her first full length of collections, After the Witch Hunt, will be published on Write Bloody Press in 2012. When she is not writing poems, Megan occupies herself by turning her ex-lovers into pies.

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