Sophie Klahr on her poem, “50 Ways”

Sophie Klahr‘s poem, “50 Ways,” appears in our Spring 2012 issue, guest edited by Nick Flynn. “50 Ways” opens with these lines:

I can turn the space of him over in my hands. See if it comes apart, if it’s permeable. Does it keep time, shrink, dissolve on flesh. Does it bounce. Can I back that thing up. Can I see if it stands, if it cuts correctly. If it can clothe me.

Here, Sophie Klahr describes her process:

I started writing this poem in the third afternoon of a solo three-day drive, after listening to Anne Carson’s “Cassandra Float Can,” on repeat, and recalling Carson’s idea about edges from her book “Eros the Bittersweet.”  The title “50 Ways” refers to Paul Simon’s 1975 hit song “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” however, unlike the song, the speaker in this poem offers no sweet winking advice—this is a snapshot of a fragmented interior.

Having formally trained as a dancer until my late teenage years, and occasionally delving back into movement studies through my twenties, I often find myself thinking very specifically about the negotiation of literal and figurative space between people. This predisposition often translates into my poems; I am interested in boundaries and liminal spaces. I am interested in risk. I don’t like to think of poems as problems, but maybe this one is. Maybe it is an experiment in choreography – it offers opportunities in the way that we make offerings to one who is grieving, asking,  do you want anything, do you need anything, what can I do?