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Artist Interview

Poet Dora Malech

April 11, 2017

                                      
                                      Photo credit: Chattman Photography

Dora Malech might just be Ode's spirit poet. She loves wordplay as much as we do; She cares deeply about her participation with the world through art; and she can't say no to the perfect blazer. She is the author of Shore Ordered Ocean and Say So, with her third book on the way. Speaking of "on the way", soon-to-be-mother Dora Malech will be making her way to Ode for a Night of Poetry on Friday, April 14th, from 6-8PM, also featuring poets Debora Kuan and Amy Dryansky. Join us in celebrating National Poetry Month!

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
At this time of year, I often find myself re-reading Jill Alexander Essbaum’s poem “Easter” from the January 2011 issue of Poetry. I love her sense of pacing and phonic echo throughout, and I’m always moved by what the poem can pack into such short, spare lines. Like many poems I love, I revel in the paradox that the author’s poem about feeling alone in a certain season actually makes me, the reader, feel less alone in that season.

Easter

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,  

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room,

and everyone
I’ve ever loved

lives happily
just past

my able reach.
And each time

Jesus rises
I’m reminded

of this marble
fact:

they are not
coming back.

     Jill Alexander Essbaum, Poetry, 2011

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
The word “orrery” has been stuck in my head lately, and saying it out loud even makes the mouth move a bit like it’s chewing the word. It means, “a mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions.” It was named after the Earl of Orrery. I like the word’s “mouthfeel,” but I also just like very specific vocabulary like that. I finally worked the word into a poem recently, which I look forward to reading out loud, especially since I surrounded it with other “or” sounds (“ornery” and “orbit”).

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Spring” is another darkly satisfying take on the season, like Jill Alexander Essbaum’s “Easter.” It begins:

     To what purpose, April, do you return again?

And it ends:

     It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
     April
     Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

I also love the first lines of Phillip Larkin’s poem “The Trees”:
     The trees are coming into leaf
     Like something almost being said . . .

Give us a writing prompt (please).
Inspired by Essbaum and Millay, write a take on the month or the season that Hallmark would refuse to publish. Like Millay, who speaks to “April,” include a direct address to something that is not a person. While you can, of course, include beautiful details too, don’t hesitate to describe both things and emotions “as they are.” Bonus points if you go outside and gather specific details from direct observation.