A Chance to Pick the Brain of a Truly Unique Poet
This interview was originally published March 29th, 2019 on Vocal.Media. It may have been subject to editing changes.
This interview was conducted by Laura DiNovis Berry (LDB) by phone in the summer of 2018.
The phone rings and immediately there is a cheery voice on the other line greeting me enthusiastically. I am speaking with Anne-Adele Wight (AW), a woman as vivacious, energetic, and unique as her poetry. I had been eager to speak with her after discussing her poetry collection, The Age of Greenhouses, with my compatriots at a meeting of the Kennett Library Poetry Discussion Club.
One of the group’s members revealed to me that Wight had made several allusions to physics throughout the text—a key piece of information which had certainly alluded me during my reading of it as I have no real grasp of that subject matter. Full of laughter at my confession that I was dumbfounded by much of The Age of Greenhouses, Wight jumps right in on her other book, Opera House Arterial.
AW: You’re going to wonder about the Opera House. Would you like me to explain how the Opera House came to be?
LDB: I would love to hear it, yes please.
Okay, well that whole book has a touch of mythology which I didn’t realize until I was a good part of the way into it. And the idea of the opera house was following me around since 1983. What happened that summer was that a friend of mine got a postcard from Quito, Ecuador, and they have a very, very well known opera house, called the Teatro Nacional.
And it’s part of the tradition of highly unlikely opera houses in South America that sprang up along with the rubber plantations and, um, this postcard showed a stretch of the town and the opera house seemingly not touching the ground, because of the river in front of it and the Andes above it.
It’s hard to describe what happened, I felt that vista went to a deep place in my brain. And so I thought, “Oh! This wants to be a poem!” And then I just couldn’t get it be a poem. And then I went on with my life for awhile and in 2011, it suddenly came roaring back as 56 poems. Which is why I couldn’t put it into one. Because it wanted to be so many.
Wow, I guess, yeah, if it had such a long time to incubate in your brain. That’s fascinating.
I didn’t realize until I started writing that the Opera House had such a nasty, contrary personality and it would be better to stay out of its way.
Now is the personality of the opera house… did you do anymore research on that particular opera house or is this all coming from the image that you saw? And you just took it and ran with it?
Um, the main thing was the image. Because in the picture… the opera house doesn’t seem to be attached to the ground. I see it as mobile, and it’s favorite means of transportation is to ride or swim or simply appear.
That’s fascinating. I am very interested to read this collection now! Now I did want to ask you, and this is a little bit more in regards to your other collection (The Age of Greenhouses) we were referring to earlier. Were you indeed trying to apply some, uh, physics terminology into your work?
The science terminology comes from my work background. Most of my career was in medical editing. For four years before that I worked at a math publisher, which is very funny because I was terrible at math. What the editors did at that company was not decide the content but edit the language, but of course some of the terminology sinks in and so I went into medical editing. And everything was very different since I could actually understand what I was working on, which was a comfort.
Oh, wow. So when you wrote that collection did you go in with a purpose of combining the world of science with the world of poetry? Because I think it’s a misconception that those two worlds are separate entities. Um, so did you do that on purpose or did this just come naturally when you were writing about that subject matter?
Well, I think it’s a misconception that they don’t belong together, I agree. And well, I was writing environmental poetry. There’s a lot of science behind the knowledge of what is happening to the environment.A lot of alarming science behind the predictive models of how it’s going to get worse.
And since—and again, I was surprised in that book by the two characters that sprang from that book. One being Krampus and one being the oceanographer. They came along to represent the natural world, but with different approaches to the natural world. Krampus is an elemental. He is the forest from which he comes. The oceanographer is a scientist dedicated to preserving the natural world. So in a way they need to be working together and in a way they’ll never agree. The oceanographer herself is based on a real person… Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Do you have plans to write another collection about the environment or are you moving on to something completely different now?
I may in the future. My first book, which is very short and more of a chapbook is environmental, and then there was opera house and then there was the second environmental book. And I’m about to come out with something else, which is—well, it’s certainly science-fiction poetry. It has to with a less inhabitable earth and takes place in evolutionary time. So, I don’t know what number five is going to be.
Will this new collection be coming out soon?
Yes, probably about the turn of the year. It’s called An Internet of Containment. And um, another one on the science terminology. I have the good fortune to be married to an engineer. So I learn a few things out of context… and he mentioned something called the “internet of things.” And I went, “Oh, what’s the internet of things?” He explained it’s all the hardware that’s keeping the internet in existence—files, servers, smartphones. Anything of that kind you can think of.
So I was writing this collection and all of the sudden—I love titles. They’re my favorite part of the poems—one of the poems was called “An Internet of Things.” It was, Oh! Where did that come from? So one of the lines is “…she tries to form an internet of containment…” And so, that became the title of the book because there’s a theme of containment running all through it.
An Internet of Containment—that is certainly an eye catching title.
I hope other people will think so!
Well, thank you so much for having this conversation with me! Thank you so much for sharing how you created this poetry!
Thank you so much for your interest! I am thrilled and touched that you wanted to do this!
Anne-Adele Wight’s An Internet of Containment has since been published and can be purchased at BlazeVOX.
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