ode boutique

Artist Interview

Arda Collins

October 9, 2015


Arda Collins is one of those women you want to paint and record. Sharply beautiful and acutely observational, she is much like the poems in her book, It is Daylight (Yale University Press), winner of the Yale Younger Poets award. In her poetry, each small moment is broken open into through-roads for thought and imagination. Sitting in a car, looking out a window, eating an onion. In Arda's worlds, any one of those acts is going to feel intimately new and mind-blowingly un-mundane. We are so excited to have Arda Collins to read here at Ode on Friday, October 9th, from 6-8pm, along with Ish Klein and Greg Purcell. 

Writer Anais Nin threw a “Come As Your Madness” party and wore a birdcage over her head. What’s inside your birdcage?
Nothing, I’m claustrophobic. Bird cages make me fear death, so there’s nothing inside this birdcage because I’ve tried to flee my own death.

What does Your Madness wear around the house?
Nothing, my little cabbage.

Fall is here. Are you more of a sweater or a scarf?
A sweater. Scarves are high-flying risk-takers while I’m at home hiding.

What color is Truth?
Sunset blush. You can’t lie to a sunset.

What fabric is Beauty?
Fabric for beauty, can I say water? Isn’t that what Venus is wearing in her seashell?

Your best Halloween costume?
One year I was a shrimp and it was so much fun.

What’s your favorite line of your favorite poem?
Oh such hard one! There are so many. Right now, this stanza from Theodore Roethke’s “The Far Field” is popping into my head:

In the silted shallows of a slow river,
Fingering a shell,
Once I was something like this, mindless,
Or perhaps with another mind, less peculiar;

Is there a photo that inspires you? Can you tell us why? 
This beguiling photo of Lena Horne haunts me (Count Basie is ok, too). It’s by Roy DeCarava. I’ve seen it only once, ever, at an exhibit in 1996 and it was the first thing I thought of when you asked for a picture. I looked at it today for the first time since then, though I've thought of Lena Horne’s face a thousand times. 

Describe your most magical moment of this past summer.
One day I went swimming in the stream near my house. There was clay in the streambed and I wore it all over my body. It was the best outfit.

What makes you mad?
On a large scale, injustice. On a personal scale, when my little cat Frances does pee pee in the bathroom sink.

The dark: are you scared of it?
Yes! Nighttime is the dark cosmos.

How does your campfire story begin?
Once, there was a farmer and his wife who lived near a small village at the foot of a mountain.