Name: Gabrielle Lawrence
Hometown: Southern California
Current city: Little Rock, AR
Occupation: Freelance Writer & Editor
What does poetry mean to you?
Something like water.
And a process by which I make sense of life.
Who is your favorite poet?
My favorite poet right now is Douglas Kearney. Though only recently exposed to him, I've been completely captivated by the energy and complexities of his work. By simply knowing his name I've been introduced to a whole world of poets and writers who directly activate the kind of childish exuberance and wonder I remember experiencing in my earliest reading adventures. I’ve learned about writers like Harryette Mullen, Duriel Harris, Quincy Trope, and several others. Every poem, essay, and interview I've been able to get my hands on by these incredible authors have felt like gifts, over and over again.
Why do you like this poet?
Every piece I’ve read by Kearney seems like a re-imagination of form. It feels free to me, which is something I’d like to cultivate more in my own practice. Even in his audio projects or readings, there’s depth and dimension but not in the ways I feel like I was taught to look for it. For example in sound, it’s not just the syllables and consonants matching or marrying on the page, but I get a clearer sense of how they relate to each other outside of the poem in a real(er) or otherwise lived experience.
I especially love the videos, the Tumblr sites, the recordings, the data, and all of the things feeding his projects that serve as companions to his more recent book projects. The multimedia notes for Patter (2014) are here. Mess and Mess (2015) also has a Tumblr site which you can find here. I’ve never experienced a piece of writing by Kearney without having a list of things to study and research afterward. That’s exciting to me. Even though we don’t always get to see the research going into a poem, I love that he brings his to the forefront and shares that information with people in an accessible way. His interviews are also gold mines.
Overall, I love how he plays with texture but in a physical sense, in a way that I think I’ve been craving for a while. I think he uses language economically. Making all parts of the word functional by bending, breaking, layering, creating new languages, interrogating their structure and purpose in a way that can conjure a world of translations even when static on the page. I like the way his work moves.
I also think reading Kearney, and authors like Kearney, is teaching me a lot about the difference between writers who know their “why” and those who aren’t quite clear on what that is yet.
My collage "Hot Mess, Blue Smoke" is inspired not only by Kearney's writing and where I was when I started reading him but also by the schools of thought I was introduced to through his work. For me, a lot of the poetry I read (or was supposed to read) either shocked or sparked something in me. More often than not I experienced the shock, usually in the traumatic sense of the word. However when I experienced Kearney's work, I felt like I was being lit up from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head. It was electric and dynamic. Then, I followed up with my own research, which led me to even more poets whose work sparked my imagination and other parts of my brain that felt dead.
Making this collage was a reaction to feeling life where I hadn't in a while, or at least giving myself permission to. More specifically, I was motivated by these authors to become more active in my transmuting process, and given tools to transform my mindset about overstimulation into abundance.
Gabrielle Lawrence is a writer and editor. Her writing can be found in Another Chicago Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review, The Squawk Back, Moonchild Magazine, Gravel Magazine, A Gathering Together Journal, Sundog Lit, and others. Even when she isn’t doing the most, she is still in the spirit of much. Follow her on Twitter @gabrielle__l or visit gabrielle-lawrence.comfor more info.