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Artist Interview

Arda Collins

April 11, 2019

What does your poetry wear to a party? Arda Collins' reply: “For some reason, this made me picture a pine tree at a party, so whatever the pine tree is doing, that’s the answer.” Somehow, this is the perfect way to describe Arda’s work. Deceptively plain-spoken moments make way for the uncanny. The familiar, when misplaced, become other and new. Comedy, they say, is tragedy plus time. Well, Arda harnesses that tragedy and that time. Her poems are both the really good house party and its unexpected guest, the pine. Arda Collins is the author of a collection of poems, It Is Daylight, which was awarded the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. She is currently teaching poetry as a Lecturer in English Language & Literature at Smith College. She will be reading at Ode on Friday, April 12th, 6-8pm, with poets Leslie Marie Aguilar, Nathan McClain, and Dora Malech.

An ode and an elegy meet on the sidewalk. How do they greet each other?

They say, “I love you” at exactly the same time.

Poem that changed your life or poem you wish you’d written:
“If you want to kill yourself, how come you don’t want to kill yourself?” by Fernando Pessoa.
This poem isn’t actually about suicide. It’s about the nature of reality, and Pessoa can talk about
metaphysics and still be so funny. When I first read this so long ago, it was a revelation.

April has been called “the cruelest month.” What would you call it?
Winter Part Three. I live in Massachusetts! Last night it snowed a little even though the
daffodils have started to come up in my yard.

Give us a writing prompt:
Describe the worst sunset you’ve ever seen.

The question “does poetry matter” can be an annoying one, so we won’t ask you that. BUT, if
poetry was actual physical matter, what would it feel/smell/taste like?

Gin and tonic on a February evening when it’s a little light out.

By what quotes/lines/provocations/inspirations/affirmations do you live (or aspire to)?
I do whatever the quotes on the box of herbal tea tell me to do.

What books are on your nightstand or docket?
Rivka Galchen’s collection of stories, American Innovations
James Baldwin’s collected essays

What does your poetry wear to a party?
For some reason, this made me picture a pine tree at a party, so whatever the pine tree is
doing, that’s the answer.

Go-to morning song:
Aretha Franklin, “Who’s Zoomin Who?”

What’s the most recent line you’ve written:
“I walk into a room and it’s as though I’ve just been born.”


Artist Interview

Dora Malech

April 9, 2019

Elvis lives. A gentleman: elegant man. The eyes, they see. Anagrams are cool. Words that beget other words, using the exact same letters. A fun game, an impressive trick, you think. But then you meet Dora Malech...and your mind is blown. If one can have a way with words, Dora has a universe. Her recent collection, Stet, employs anagrams and other formal restraints to create poems that simultaneously alight and take flight. She works from a lyrically molecular level to get at the heart of the matter. Dora's poetry is much like her visual art: intricate lines meticulously crossing and recrossing each other, creating multitudes. Look close, and the center always holds. But step back, and you’ll begin to see that from all of these lines, these pieces, these iterations, comes the shape of something whole: a living, breathing form. 

Dora Malech is the author of Stet (Princeton University Press, 2018), Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her fourth collection, Flourish, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2020. She is assistant professor with The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She will be leading a Poetry Word-Shop at Ode on Thursday, April 11th, and reading from her work on Friday, April 12th, alongside poets Nathan McClain, Arda Collins, and Leslie Marie Aguilar. 

An ode and an elegy meet on the sidewalk. How do they greet each other?
The ode would be a big hugger and full of compliments for the elegy. The elegy would just nod in the moment, but she would later send the ode a lengthy formal letter articulating how much that moment meant to her.

                                                           "Ecosystem" by Dora Malech               

Poem that changed your life or poem you wish you’d written:
Gwendolyn Brooks’s “To The Young Who Want to Die,” which ends:

Graves grow no green that you can use.
Remember, green's your color. You are Spring.

April has been called “the cruelest month”. What would you call it?
It’s National Poetry Month, so I’d call it a full calendar.


Give us a writing prompt:
Write a poem that describes a body of water from your childhood. You can interpret “body of water” literally—a lake, ocean, or reservoir, for example—or you can go with a more personal interpretation—an open fire hydrant, a bathtub. Try to portray the feeling of being in or near that body of water without using more than three adjectives (descriptive words like “blue” or “warm”) in your entire poem. Use no “adverbs of manner” (the “-ly” adverbs like “madly” or “loudly”). (It might help to write freely, and then go back in and replace these words if you find them.) Restricting these descriptive words will push you to find strong, specific verbs (action words) and nouns (people, places, things), as well as strong surprising figurative language (metaphors, etcetera). Title your water poem either “Origin Story” or “Creation Myth.”

The question “does poetry matter” can be an annoying one, so we won’t ask you that. BUT, if poetry was actual physical matter, what would it feel/smell/taste like?
Rich, wet earth and sunlight—the conditions for growth.
By what quotes/lines/provocations/inspirations/affirmations do you live (or aspire to)?
It changes every day! Right now, it’s the end of Ada Limón’s poem “Instructions on Not Giving Up”:

. . . . Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

                                               "Hover" by Dora Malech

What books are on your nightstand or docket?
I just finished reading Marwa Helal’s Invasive Species (Nightboat Books, 2019). I’m about to start Darcie Dennigan’s The Parking Lot and other feral scenarios (Forklift Books, 2018).

What does your poetry wear to a party?
Velvet pants and a fanny pack. Or maybe that’s just me.

Go-to morning song:
Right now, The Dirty Projector’s “Break-Thru” and Lizzo’s “Juice.”

What are the most recent lines you’ve written:
What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?
What’s a girl like you doing in?
What’s a girl like you?


Artist Interview

Leslie Marie Aguilar

April 3, 2019

Leslie Marie Aguilar, one of Ode's featured poets this month, explores the tributaries of the heart with acuity, attention, and an eye for expansion, so that one feels reading her poetry, we are both on the inside and the outside, with her.  She traverses grief and solitude, light and warmth, with a sharp tenderness: "Ready to carve new boundaries. Ready to draw new maps. Ready to find vibrant ways of shouting, I am angry / sad / lonely / grieving for a life made more terrifying by the ordinary." Leslie Marie Aguilar is the author of Mesquite Manual (New Delta Review, 2015), and currently works as the Editorial Assistant for Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism at Smith College. She will be reading alongside Dora Malech, Nathan McClain, and Arda Collins at Ode on Friday, April 12th, 6-8PM. 

Poem that changed your life or poem you wish you’d written:
Aracelis Girmay’s poem, “Loisforeribari”, absolutely floored me the first time I heard her perform it. As an undergraduate, it reaffirmed my belief that poetry can in fact be the embodiment of human compassion and love. Love is for everybody. Yes, love is for every body.

April has been called “the cruelest month”. What would you call it?
April as: national poetry month, sweet pea month, less-cruel-than-winter month(s), diamond month, birth month, favorite month.

Give us a writing prompt:
Write a list of objects that are often associated with each element/suit of the tarot. Choose four objects from the list (one object for each element: earth, air, water, fire). Imagine placing these objects on an altar. What does the altar look like? What is it made of? Where is it? Write a poem or piece of prose that recreates this altar in words. Make sure to incorporate each of the objects chosen. What do these objects represent? Do they bring back any memories? Why were they important enough to place on this altar?

By what quotes/lines/provocations/inspirations/affirmations do you live (or aspire to)?
While I was traveling recently, I asked someone how we might will ourselves to wake up in the morning despite terrible news from across the globe, the envy in our hearts stemming from social media, the general lack of enthusiasm brought on by winter. They responded with these lines from Rumi:

“When someone asks what there is to do, 
light the candle in his hand. 
      Like this.”
— Jalal al-Din Rumi

That joy might be found in the simple act of lighting a candle in our hands—a physical beacon leading us onward like a lighthouse—makes me wonder what else might be found within arm’s length.

What books are on your nightstand or docket?

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting You Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ugly Music by Diannely Antigua

teaching my mother how to give birth by Warsan Shire

What does your poetry wear to a party?
My poetry wears a sequined pair of antlers on her head—blues, greens, golds, glittering. A set of six silver bangles on her left wrist for good measure. A pair of weathered leather boots with spurs attached, and a single piece of turquoise dangling from her neck like a rain drop above her heart.

Go-to morning song:
“Good as Hell” by Lizzo.


Artist Interview

Gloria Pacosa of The Curtis House

December 10, 2018

Need a beautiful sprawling lawn on which to say your vows? Or do you prefer a cozy, warm barn, complete with greenery and lights? Maybe you're imagining a glass greenhouse where you'll have your first wedded kiss. And what about floral arrangements? You want something untamed and cascading, or romantic and vibrant? Or maybe you're hosting a party that calls for ornate headpieces, adorned with chicken bones and foliage. Well, Gloria Pacosa of Gloriosa & Co. is your woman. For everything above, and pretty much anything else you can come up with that is magical, wonderous, and wild. She will be hosting our holiday Wreath Making Workshop this Wednesday and Thursday night, 12th and 13th, from 6-8pm. There are a few spots still available, so call or stop by to sign up! 

Where do you find magic?
With a glass of wine and a man named Chris.

What’s the most beautiful celebration you’ve ever attended?
Wigilia, a traditional polish Christmas eve dinner, with my family.

Talk to us about your glass greenhouse!
It's a Lutton glass house, built in 1906, that was moved from a property in Marion, MA. We have restored all of the original cypress parts. It's similar to, of the same era as, the Smith College greenhouses.

Best gift you’ve ever received:
A series of antique tiny dolls from my dear friend, Phyllis Kirkpatric. I've made tiny shadow boxes for them. My favorites are the two sets of couples that were made from wishbones, and hazelnuts.

Best gift you’ve ever given:
The years spent with my children when they were young. Making costumes, candy, gardens. That was magic.

What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Cutting down a Charlie Brown tree from the power lines in Ashfield and decorating it with ornaments that my girls and I made.

What’s in your wreath?
We have gathered as much local material as possible. Evergreens, azalea, balsam, laurel, holly, juniper.
As well as material from our local floral supplier. Pepperberry, brassicas, huckleberry, heather, and eryngium to name a few.

Talk to us about the Curtis House!
We plan, arrange, and cater events—weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, showers, reunions, small gatherings, memorial services, or anything you can think of, indoors or outdoors.
We host events here at the Curtis House, our 1850s home built by George William Curtis, the then editor of Harpers Weekly. It’s a charming, sprawling old house that abuts the town green.

During warmer months, events take place in our gardens as well as our fully restored late-19th century barn. When it's a bit chilly we host smaller events in a heated section of the barn or in the house itself. Whatever you imagine for your event, we're here to help you realize your dreams. We help every step of the way, from planning and budgeting to coordinating the day. We open our home to you and take away all the stress of planning your dream day. We want to make your day about who you are.

Who would you want caroling at your door?
Nate King Cole

What brings you peace?
A glass of wine and a man named Chris.

Photos By: Chattman Photography, Melanie Zacek, Emily Delamater

Artist Interview

Victoria Accardi: Ode’s Foodie Spirit Guide

November 2, 2018

                                                                                                                                     Chattman Photography

Victoria Accardi, like her eclairs, is full of wonderful-ness. Once a stylist at Ode, and now a working artist in New York, she traverses a map of creative paths, dancing along the way. But who knew she could also slay in the kitchen? Well, we did...that's why we invited her back to Ode for our Guide to Gatherings Workshop, where she talked (and fed us) charcuterie and chocolate. If you missed the event, don't worry, we'll find a reason to bring her back again soon. And we included her amazing Holiday Relish recipe at the end of this interview, in case you want to impress your Thanksgiving table. Meet Victoria, again:

Describe your perfect gathering:
My perfect gathering would involve food, dancing, and the people I love, in equal parts. 

                                                                                                                                     Chattman Photography

The most delicious bite you’ve ever taken:
The last time I was in Sicily I was in a food market in Palermo with my cousins and they convinced me to taste this traditional Sicilian sandwich called Pani ca Meusa, which is essentially stewed lung and spleen between two pieces of soft bread. Needless to say I was reluctant to put this soggy, gray substance in my mouth, but my cousins (who I might add do not eat this sandwich themselves) insisted that I try it because as a Sicilian I have to experience Pani Ca Meusa at least once. I cannot think of another time in my life when I have spit food out, certainly not in public, but there was no way I was swallowing that once I tasted it. After sprinting to the nearest trash can, I demanded that my cousin immediately go get me a bambolone (Italian brioche-donut) filled with nutella. Fearing my wrath, he dutifully obliged. This delicate bambolone was still warm inside. Soft and sweet, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, it was the antithesis of what I had just eaten and I had never tasted anything more sublime. 

What cheese most pleases you?
Fresh sheep’s milk ricotta drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper. In the late spring/early summer the sheep have been eating the fresh green grass and their milk is so sweet. It makes the ricotta taste like dessert.

You are a painter, among many things. What food do you most love to paint?
Desserts! So many different textures and reflective surfaces. Cannoli, donuts, cakes.

Who do you invite to your dinner table? What do you serve them?
I invite people who make me laugh. I serve them cheeses, pasta, always desserts (fruit tarts, or cannoli usually). Recently, I have been very into cooking Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style meals. My family is from a very Arab influenced part of Italy so I love to play with those two styles of cuisine. I also always serve Lambrusco or Sicilian red wine, like Nero D’Avola. 

                      Victoria, with Willa Van Nostrand, of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails

Your spirit spice?

What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner?
My Lacausa Santi jumpsuit, so chic, so much room for my pie-baby. 

Guilty culinary pleasure?

What flavor do you despise?

What’s on your party playlist?
So much Motown, Sam & Dave, The Crystals, The Ronnettes, Lee Moses. Recently I have been listening to Harumi’s self-titled album, the song Hurry Up Now has been on repeat.

Victoria served this vibrantly-hued relish with stinky cheese and seedy crackers, creating the perfect bite. We can't recommend it enough. Great on the Thanksgiving table, in your yogurt, or even on its own. Enjoy!