Poet Of The Week

Marisa Crawford

     June 10–16, 2013

Marisa Crawford is the author of the poetry collection The Haunted House (Switchback Books, 2010) and the chapbook 8th Grade Hippie Chic (Immaculate Disciples Press, 2013). Her writing has recently appeared in Fanzine, Bitch Flicks, Black Clock, Delirious Hem and HER KIND. She lives in Williamsburg.

And I Will Always Love You

Three stories above the field and
pine trees circling blacktop
in the corner of the school cafeteria,
if two people stand next to each other          holding hands
each one facing one of two adjacent juice machines
and if each touches their index finger to the
keyhole of their juice machine
will a shock shoot through both bodies?
Could you do it with anyone,
wherever you are
I urge you to find the juice machines/ are they
everywhere or only in one particular school where
some two children thought to hold hands
to make a chain between two keyholes, and every
first day of school, the shop teacher told a story
of a boy who locked himself in the closet, sat down
crushed every bone in his foot with a hammer/ this was
an example of what not to do
with your body/         with the machinery/
how many of us heard
the shriek of the table saw          plank of wood bound in the bar clamp
constant beat of your pulse         finger pressed into artery
outside by the white spray-painted finish line
all the cheering/ the surrounding
pushing you/ can do it, come on, you can do it.

—From The Haunted House, Switchback Books, 2010.

Tell us about the making of this poem.

A lot of the poems in The Haunted House are about being in middle school and high school, but I think of this poem as more about the actual place where that all happened. When I wrote this poem, I think I was thinking about the weird sort of secret magic and stories and urban legends that float around a place and make it what it is. And the sort of dangerous, scary, risky underbelly of being a teenager in the very boring, safe suburbs. I think in a way I was interested in writing a poem that cheers on the kids who are fascinated by or attracted to the idea of doing dangerous or scary or potentially harmful things to themselves and to their bodies—or maybe just cheering on the kid I was who was interested in those things—as crazy or horrible as that might sound. I guess I was sort of interested in exploring the magic and the love in that.

What are you working on right now?

For a while I was worrying a lot about whether or not I was writing poems that “went with” the second manuscript that I’ve been trying to put together, and for the past year or so I’ve decided to stop worrying about that. Instead, I’m just writing poems as they come to me, and trying not to overthink editing or revising them. I think that the poems I’ve been writing most recently are more about dailiness and navigating being an adult and having a job you don’t really love alongside the idealism and vision that you carry with you from when you were younger. I’m not exactly sure how these poems or fragments of poems will work with each other or with the larger manuscript that I have in the back of my mind, but I’m trying to force myself not to worry about that right now. For me, thinking about that too much kind of extinguishes the feeling of needing to write and wanting to write.

What’s a good day for you?

Getting to work on writing, getting to hang out with my favorite people, getting to do some fun &/or interesting activity like going to a museum or watching a good movie, spending some time outside, getting things done to maintain my overall well-being. The very best day would in theory include all of these things.

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

I’ve lived in Williamsburg, a few blocks off the Lorimer L stop, for almost three years—since I moved to New York. I like that it’s really easy and quick for me to get into the city, where I work, but that it definitely feels much less crowded and quieter than the city. It’s also really close to the G and J/M trains, so I feel like it’s easily accessible to a lot of places. I love that it has lots of quiet, tree-lined streets, that it’s close to McCarren Park and that it’s easy to walk to lots of cool shops and bars and restaurants, but that it still feels slightly removed from all the busy and ultra-trendiness of other parts of Williamsburg.

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

I don’t know that I think my experiences are at all representative of Brooklyn, so this is a hard question to answer. As far as a defining experience, all I can think of is what it was like to move here from San Francisco, because that sort of set the tone for my experience here. I moved here in July of 2010, and it felt like the hottest summer ever, and my boyfriend and I were subletting a room with no furniture in Sunset Park while we looked for an apartment, and I was also working full time at a brand new job. It was so stressful. And so hot, and it smelled like garbage everywhere, and the subways had no escalators (SF totally spoiled me), and I think that in Brooklyn there’s no such thing as finding an apartment where you don’t have to compromise something that you want, unless you have tons and tons of money. But at the same time, I was finally living in the same city as my oldest, closest friends, near my family, and in this super vibrant and exciting literary community. I guess the moral of the story is that living in Brooklyn—and more generally just living in New York—can feel really hard and unforgiving at times, but I think that ultimately all the good stuff balances that out.  

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

I want to name all my friend-poets whom I love and admire so much as poets and as people, but there are too many to name and I’m scared I’d leave someone out. They’re my favorites because they give me a sense of community and inspiration and make this such an amazing place to live. My other favorites are Bernadette Mayer and Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore(s)?

I weirdly, sadly haven’t ventured to a ton of bookstores in Brooklyn, because I have a hard time leaving my neighborhood a lot if it’s not to go to work. I like Word in Greenpoint and Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene. I recently went to Mellow Pages Library in Bushwick, which was amazing. My favorite bookstore in New York is Bluestockings, which is in Manhattan.

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

My favorite coffee shops to write in in my neighborhood are The West, House of Small Wonder, Manna and Second Stop, which actually just closed. I like working on writing in coffee shops, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. I do most of my writing while wandering around Midtown on my lunch break or on the L or 4/5 trains.

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

Greenpoint Heights, for their delish food menu and tasty drinks and TV nights and friends. The Williamsburg waterfront ‘cause it’s pretty and magical and a ten-minute walk from my apartment. The City Reliquary because it’s awesome. The Brooklyn Museum because what is more amazing than a museum with a Center for Feminist Art?

Last awesome book(s) you read?

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed.

Fill in the blanks in these lines by Whitman:

I celebrate wearing the biggest bow that all the gods can find,
And what I can do with my eyes you should see sometime,
For every black hole that loves me loves me as good as the
     stupid, shining carnival where I met

Why Brooklyn?

Because it’s a suburban teen dream.