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Kristina Marie Darling interviewed at TCJWW


Interview: Kristina Marie Darling

November 25, 2015


Andrea Dickens

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Night Songs (2010), Compendium (2011), and The Body is a Little Gilded Cage: A Story in Letters & Fragments (2011). She has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation, as well as grants from the Vermont Studio Center and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her poems appear in Third CoastBarn Owl ReviewRHINOCider Press ReviewGargoyle, and many other journals. (Bio adapted from Barn Owl Review). 


TCJWW: How did you conceive of Failure Lyric as a book-length project? Was it before you began writing these poems, or after you had a group of poems? How do projects for books usually find you (or you find them)?


Darling: That’s a great question. Failure Lyric actually began with a writing prompt from the wonderful poet Allison Titus. She challenged me to map my heartbreak across its many locations in time and space, to chart the crazy orbits that grief set me on.  It wasn’t long before I started writing poems about a relationship and various cities that it took me to:  Burlington, St. Louis, Iowa City, and the now infamous Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The work began as disparate fragments and bits of what would later become poems, so it was a joy to discover the larger narrative arc as I wrote. This is usually how my book projects unfold. While I work in long poems and extended sequences, I always feel as though I’m discovering the project, or the larger concept behind the work, as I write. 


TCJWW: The poems in this book both show quite a range of form and also a strong consistency of voice. I’m curious how your poems came to take their current shapes and find their voice.


Darling: The book does encompass a range of forms, including lyric fragments, prose poems, and prose sequences. The more fragmented pieces are actually erasures, which came into being when I took a black marker to my four-year correspondence with a male poet, who out of respect for his work, will remain unnamed. Erasing the various letters, inscriptions, and messages was initially intended to help me move past my grief, but it did much more. It gave rise to the poems that you’ll find in the middle sections of Failure Lyric, in which I tried to weave together memory and imagination, grief and hope, to create meaning from what seemed like a heap of shattered glass and dead lilies. 


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