Poet Of The Week

Paige Taggart

     January 27–February 2, 2014

Paige Taggart is from Northern California and currently resides in Brooklyn. She is the author of five chapbooks: Last Difficult Gardens, DIGITAL MACRAMÉ, Polaroid Parade, The Ice Poems and I Am Writing To You from Another Country; Translations of Henri Michaux (forthcoming). Her first full-length collection Want For Lion (Trembling Pillow Press) will be published in March 2014 and her second Or Replica (Brooklyn Arts Press) later in 2014. She works as a full-time jewelry production manager and has her own jewelry line that specializes in blinging-out poets.

Split and Raise Force-Field on Deck

In some legendary light I am mistaken
for a blinking field, an analog across the eyes
with a series of horses running forward
like that painting of a wave
where the wave has horses galloping
inside its enormity, and I pity the person
whose vision can’t relax to see this moment
sea sweat combing the indistinguishable ardor
the painting I’d always look up to mid-stride
past my boyfriend’s bed, he’d say he read an article
about how surfing was better than sex
couldn’t tell if he agreed or not, I believed
he did but he kept falling back
on how it was interesting and that condescends
the expression like a relaxed sonata, a coming up
for air between being charged with meaning
alas, he said it really was about catching
the perfect wave, and very rarely is someone able
to do this in their life, so the experience transcends
all other actions by its rarity, horses that are the wave
Walter Crane’s Neptune Horses, no one predicted
I would remember this, I didn’t even believe in myself
and hardly realize how inadvertently a perfect wave
sticks with you, a thousand horses galloping
in your mind, a thousand visits to a house
whose deck is sloping down into the unreal, whatever
we do now is like a vision of something coming
undone, a microcosm of never again, it isn’t sad
the sea salt sticking to the horse’s hair
if they are always coming forward in retention
with the wave, are they ever galloping back—
an entire life spent preparing to break, unheard
a lack of any want to amend the past, something
striding, splitting apart and coming back

–Originally published in So and So

Tell us about the making of this poem.

This particular poem was written with extreme clarity and written all in one sitting from beginning to end and it was all TRUTH > memory forming thought to gain better clarity about the present … sometimes I write in pursuit of pure language, love, and want to impact my emotions into a vessel that can ride like a philosophical seahorse, and this was definably that kind of moment. The poem begins with the image of extreme light and breaks into the image of horses in an actual wave. I’m approaching the idea of the image in mind space and calling it out to rectify it in poem space. I like this idea that surfers are constantly on the quest to find the perfect wave, and that they might only experience it once in their entire lives, but that it’s worth all the searching, time and sunburning to have that be, and I kinda think that’s how it can be to be a poet … maybe you’ll only ever write one perfect poem in your whole poetry life or maybe never but there is a distinct holiness (sound of oooohhh breaking through) like the perfect light and maybe the purest love.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I just finished making edits for my book Want For Lion that’s about to drop hot in the next few months. The last few poems I wrote were these wild translations for Telephone Journal. I’m constantly working away on several types of writing at any time. I tend to write in spurts, so I’ll write about ten pages in a day and then not write anything for a few months. I completed a book-length poem a while back that I wrote in a notebook exclusively on the B train, and this kind of “project” really suits my personality because I like having something that I’ve defined and then I can keep adding to. I’m trying to create order in the mess of this manuscript that’s a bunch of one-off-poems that I’ve titled Mixtape 2012 (cause why not who fights it), because I had all these random poems with no homes and I like everything to belong to something so I made up this title thinking see now these poems belong in here. I’m also working on all these new extreme jewelry pieces for an exhibition I have coming up at Berl’s Poetry Shop. The jewelry is going to be displayed as wearable art and the craftsmanship of the pieces is imbued with a poetry consciousness.

What’s a good day for you?

My favorite days are the days I can spend all day working on my stuff … wake up, make coffee, respond to emails, listen to podcasts (The Moth, Planet Money, You Made it Weird, BBC Radio 4) while making jewelry, write a little, text my ladies, drink more coffee, give kisses to my boo, then get ready to go out to some sort of poetry event & see friends & drink & speak too honestly.

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

I’ve lived in Brooklyn since late August 2006. I first lived in a fifth floor walk-up, a tiny apt on Bedford and South 3rd and the bathroom didn’t even have a sink. When I moved to New York I had never been here before but coming from San Francisco I knew that I wanted to live in Brooklyn and not Manhattan. After a year, I moved in with a fellow poet/artist into her house in Ditmas Park. It was a miraculous change, a huge 3-story home with a front yard and backyard on a lovely tree-lined street. That house was really fun, and split between my landlord friends who occupied the first floor, and the second and third floor I shared with roommates. I lived with one artist and a bunch of touring musicians, so there’d usually either be nobody home or tons of band members crashing everywhere. After a 2-year long-distance relationship with poet boyfriend Sampson Starkweather, we decided to get our own place but we wanted to stay in Ditmas, we love it here. We have several delicious eateries–Ox Cart Tavern, Purple Yam, The Farm–a great bar, Sycamore, big huge trees and quietude and some of our best poet friends live right down the street.

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

My thirtieth birthday party was at my place on the day of Hurricane Sandy and we had to buy party supplies, as well as survival supplies, of course a bunch of the people who had originally planned on coming couldn’t show up because they either had to evacuate, go help out their parents somewhere or just for their own safety didn’t want to venture out … but those who showed up were so ecstatic to be around friends, in nearly apocalyptic fantasy we raged on and danced while a storm was whipping outside; we preserved buckets of water and had fans blasting because it was so humid and we felt guilty to celebrate but at the same time so happy to be in the company of friends and the dual nature of the event and the dichotomy in adventure all felt very Brooklyn, a kind of safe brutality.

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

I truly believe that my boyfriend and friends are some of the best living poets writing right now in Brooklyn (too many to name).

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore(s)?

Unnameable Books & Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop.

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

Home, in my bed, or at one of my desks, the B train, I used to write in coffee shops, but not anymore, I like to write at the bar Flatbush Farm, I also like to make up poems in speaking and record them into my phone … At this point, I am most attuned when I read on the subway with headphones, my headspace works best when there’s distractions that I have to consciously block out. I think it’s because I grew up in a really loud household with different types of music playing simultaneously.

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

I love going to the Brooklyn Museum, going to thrift stores (not going to name my secret spots), walking the whole stretch of Atlantic Avenue past all the little shops all the way down to where you can catch the ferry is pretty amazing, Vanderbilt Avenue is fun, ooo White Jazz, & the Bridge, the park, and sometimes the beach.

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

I just finished reading The Bridegroom Was a Dog by Yoko Tawada which is a total stunner, strangely though I couldn’t get into it the first or second time I tried to read it, but then recently pursued it for a third time and swallowed it up, the sentences are long and filled with complex impressions. I loved Jen Denrow’s new Horse Less Press chapbook How We Know It Is That, these poems are vivid and abstract, personal and spatial. I’ve been continuously dipping in and out of a selected Mina Loy book, The Lost Lunar Baedeker, for the bursts of ecstatic language as well as Clark Coolidge’s A Book Beginning What and Ending Away which keeps me wondering …

Fill in the blanks in these lines by Whitman:

I celebrate pussy,
And what I love you should write,
For every bead of me as good as that of you.

Why Brooklyn?

Because the people, “the scene,” the diversity, it’s all very motivating and ambition drives on in time, I feel bicoastal being from California and living in Brooklyn, the two significant bodies of water strike a parallel balance through my personality and I fell in love …