Alicia Jo Rabins, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

AJRstairs(2).jpgAlicia Jo Rabins, Brooklyn-based poet and musician, received her MFA from Warren Wilson. Her poems have appeared in the Boston Review, 6 x 6, and Horse Poems (Knopf). As a musician she tours internationally; her art-pop song cycle about Biblical women, Girls in Trouble, was released in October 2009. (Check out her interview at Largehearted Boy.)

Rabins’ poems “How You Came to Be” and “Writing About Writing About Writing” were published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. (Hoagland closed his February 12 visit to Emerson College by reading “How You Came to Be.”) View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

An excerpt from “Writing About Writing About Writing”:

A mermaid crawls out of my mouth to meet you in this poem,
my teacher who calls me teacher and therefore is my teacher,
who shows me how to knot a net to make the moon rise
during night watch on calm seas while the other sailors sleep.

After the jump, Rabins shares how this poem came to be.


“Writing About Writing About Writing”

“Writing About Writing About Writing” was born out of my fascination with the stickiness of using language to analyze language. It sounds theoretical, but was actually quite practical: I was studying towards my MFA at Warren Wilson College, which is a low-residency program, and the study largely takes place in written correspondence with one’s teacher. We wrote long letters back and forth in which we discussed first writing (poems themselves), and then writing about writing (critical analysis of poems), and at a certain point I became obsessed with how odd it was to analyze something made of words using words, like looking at a microscope under a microscope. I decided to write my teacher a poem-letter exploring these ideas.

I’ve sailed on tall ships and often feel like the process is akin to writing, plus communication by letter and tall ship are perhaps similarly endangered (or nostalgic) these days, so I imagined our correspondence as a long sailing voyage, replete with celestial navigation, scrimshaw, night watch, and mermaids.


Stay tuned next week when Alicia Jo Rabins begins her guest posts on our blog!

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