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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.”