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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.