Poet Of The Week

Farrah Field

     November 11–17, 2013

Farrah Field is the author of two books of poetry: Rising (2009) and Wolf and Pilot (2012), both published by Four Way Books. She is also the author of the chapbook Parents (2011) from Immaculate Disciples Press and her poems were selected by Kevin Young for The Best American Poetry 2011. With her husband and son, she lives in Brooklyn where she co-runs Berl’s Poetry Shop.

Wedding in a Nightgown and Fur Coat

We go to the toilet together, chatting up
marriage when that unattainable sip remains

in our glasses. Children—ha, ha—a simple
slip. How do you come by this spillway

without a shovel. How do you scratch
your noggin then slip your fingers in.

Drink, for pity. Could I be a bride again,
spanked to blush, sealing invitations,

something plucked, and wisecrack with nail polish?
Convenient you’ve got the perfect dick.

I’ve caught you settling: reading and rubbing
your beard, floating eyes during phone messages.

I know what kind of rice you’d buy,
where to locate floss in your car.

Are you going to ask me to marry you today?
How do I say yes without admitting anything.

Do you want matching rings? Should I call
you darling? To be direct: I’m too broke

to have a future. I can’t afford sweaters
and I’m never single. When light glows

through the covers’ seams, we talk about
everyone staring at televisions on airplanes.

Everything you have seems rare: a sister,
a flexible foot, skin without lotion,

and the day you held my hand as we approached cows.

–From Rising, Four Way Books, 2009.

Tell us about the making of this poem.

This poem is all about Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve. When she’s asked what she’ll wear to apply for a marriage license, Margo Channing jokes that she’ll wear “a fur coat over a nightgown.” It’s incredibly loaded with emotion. She wants to seem young and sexy and she wants to feel as though marriage were this thing that could solidly bind Bill, her boyfriend, to her. The joke is a quintessential example of the way people joke over coal emotions; I admit this is the recipe for my dark, rank humor. With one simple joke, Margo Channing wonders aloud if the marriage will even work, you know, should she even bother dressing for the occasion that could very well be the beginning of the end. She simultaneously implies, however, that the marriage won’t change anything, that she and her boyfriend are so sexually coiled they’ll roll out of bed, sign their names at the courthouse, then go hit the hay again.

What are you working on right now?

How to make tasty, healthy food for my son who is now eating food food. How to be a good parent. How to be a good bookstore owner. How to be a good partner to Jared. How to be a good business partner with Jared. How to do one hundred things at once. How to relax. How to write poems while walking my son to the park. How not to be shy when we have our store filled with customers. How to take up more space, especially in a poem called “American Looseness” which I stole from Robert Duncan but am thinking of changing the title of to “American Goose Neck.”

What’s a good day for you?

Every day! Sleeping in until 6:30 AM! I cherish every moment with my baby. He makes every day feel like a celebration.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like most about it?

I’ve lived in New York for 12 years and have lived in Brooklyn 11 of those years. My East Village sojourn was quite fun; I loved living close to my friends Nikki and Bari, people I followed from Denver to New York. I have lived in two Brooklyn neighborhoods—Kensington and DUMBO.

Share with us a defining Brooklyn experience, good, bad or in between.

When I moved to New York, I travelled with my cat in a kennel and a suitcase stuffed with all my belongings. There used to be van services that took people home from the airport. I waited over an hour with my cat for a van and when there were finally enough people to take us to Brooklyn, the driver refused to take me with my cat. After another half-hour, I was in a cab heading to my new apartment and I vomited all over the backseat of the cab and all over my cat’s kennel, which has vents so the vomit seeped all over him. I quickly learned how to deal with pissed-off cab drivers and my first task in my new apartment was bathing my puke-soaked cat.

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

Well, I’d like to say Paige Taggart and Sampson Starkweather, but Jared said that last week! I really want to give a shout out to all the poets who have influenced me and who no longer live here. I still consider these people Brooklyn poets no matter where they live: Julia Cohen (author of Collateral Light on Brooklyn Arts Press), Matthew Henriksen (author of Ordinary Sun on Black Ocean), Sommer Browning (author of Either Way I’m Celebrating on Birds, LLC), and Steven Karl (author of the forthcoming Dork Swagger on Coconut Books). I am so sad that these poets no longer live in Brooklyn. Jared and I want to put a renegade plaque on Sommer’s former Williamsburg dwelling because Steven lived there as well.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore(s)?

Berl’s Poetry Shop!

Favorite places to read and write in Brooklyn (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

Generally I like to write at home, but lately I’ve been writing whenever and wherever I can, so I read quite a bit and take notes on the subway. I’ve been writing while waiting in lines and while walking down the street.

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

My new favorite place is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I took my son there quite often this summer. It’s so peaceful there and I love going even on rainy days. I wish so much that he would remember having his diaper changed underneath the cherry blossom trees!

Last awesome book(s)/poem(s) you read?

The last awe-inspiring book I read was Robert Duncan’s Ground Work. I read it with a group of friends. For me, having a baby plus co-running a small business meant that simply finishing the book was a great accomplishment. I also seem to be on a kick of reading poets’ essays. I love this new hybrid genre of lyric essay, which is the new kind of scholarship. Blah to the old criticism, detached and devoid of tenderness. Readership is scholarship! In a lyric essay section at Berl’s, I would include Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Eileen Myles’s Inferno (even though it is billed as a novel), Juliana Spahr’s Well Then There Now, and Bhanu Kapil’s Humanimal, among others.

Why Brooklyn?

Brooklyn used to be affordable?