In The Field: Conversations With Our Contributors–Kelly Cressio-Moeller

by | Jun 19, 2019

1. Tell us about your poem in Volume 21, “Panels from a Celestial Autumn.” How did it come to be?

It’s an invented form where each section or ‘panel’, as in a polyptych in painting is a separate voice but the sections hang together as part of a larger whole. I began this quartet of seasonal panels about 6 years ago with summer and this autumn panel was the last poem I wrote for the sequence and the last poem I wrote for my first full-length collection (currently in circulation), “Shade of Blue Trees.”

I wanted to see how far I could take imagery and metaphor to convey emotion; the language is intentionally heady and saturating, leaping and lyrical. Over the last few years, I had a long, slow recovery from major surgeries. It made me hyper-aware of my body and its limitations. The poem focuses on the body’s trials, of what it can and cannot heal from: injury, abuse, illness, addiction, aging/death. It’s a long poem with a challenging format. Meghan Maloney-Vinz and Dylan Cole deserve special thanks for their commitment to getting this right.

2. What excites you as a writer? What turns you off, makes you turn away or stop reading a piece of writing?

I love great language and sounds, interesting forms that support or extend the poem, clever titles that do the work they should, what’s not said, reticence, a choice volta, otherworldliness, strange beauty, landings that either detonate, utterly surprise me, or teach me something new. There’s a terrific quote from Alberto Álvaro Ríos: “The best line in a poem better be the line I’m reading.” I often think of this when reading, writing, and revising. I’m not interested in predictability, zero emotion, talky poems, or abstraction to the point of obstruction.

3. What are some themes/topics that are important to your writing?

Grief, loss, the body, and the natural world are big themes in my past work and will be there in some way or another in the future. I gravitate toward exploring subjects that take a long time to unknot or don’t rectify themselves in a linear fashion. We’ve recently discovered my eldest son has a very serious life-threatening medical condition. I know when I’m ready the unbelievable shock and unfathomable worry of this will make its way to the page, but not now. I still feel I’m holding my breath or will wake from the worst dream.

4. Do you practice any other art forms? If so, do these influence your writing and/or creative process?  

Once upon a time I was going to be an art historian, and my connection to visual art has been strong from my earliest memories. In no particular order, art, poetry, music, and nature are my key creative touchstones, essential to how I make sense of things. Throughout my adult life I’ve been experimenting with painting, collage/assemblage, photography, and, back in the day, I played drums daily. Last year I started making visual poetry/erasures and a new avenue opened; a great discovery for me. When not writing, the other arts keep me happy but not fulfilled in the same way poetry does. I’m happiest when making something, working with my hands. I think it’s why all my poems are written and revised in longhand; the physical act of writing, ink on the page, is a joy I’ve embraced since childhood. All of these outlets help train and hopefully deepen my patience and observational skills. One feeds into the other. Everything fills the well.

5. What does your creative process look like? How does the environment you are in shape your work or where do you like to write?

Sometimes I write every day for a stretch and then won’t write again for several months. If snippets, threads, or lines come, I take those down immediately (notepads in the car, shower, kitchen, etc). If something starts to haunt me, I sit down, preferably in the morning, and see what happens. Whatever is making the most noise gets priority. The majority of my writing takes place either when my house is quiet or if I go on a retreat once or twice a year. We are a family of four in a small house—one son is at college but comes home often, another is in high school, and my extremely supportive husband. It’s challenging to carve out time and some weeks or seasons work better than others. It’s a constant balance between family life and solitude, and I protect my writing and quiet time fiercely. And candlelight is very important; all year long, it is a true comfort.

Kelly Cressio-Moeller is the associate editor of Glass Lyre Press. She’s had work published in North American Review, Salamander, THRUSH, Menacing Hedge, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net. Her full-length manuscript “Shade of Blue Trees” is out in circulation. Visit Kelly’s website at www.kellycressiomoeller.com.

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