Guest Post, Dana Curtis

“Palimpsest” is one of the poems I wrote in response to a friend’s death. It is not just about my own “sadness” and “fear” but my friend’s. Her pain was so much greater than my own. This poem is one of the ways I grappled with the inevitable and my helplessness. It is also meaningless in the face of reality. I have trouble grasping that the world could continue without her, that despite my knowledge of the terrible unfairness of existence, I cannot help but continue my protest and record my objections, as though they matter.

I did not realize I was writing a palimpsest until I had completed the poem. It was obviously one thing written on top of another and in the end, which was on top was irrelevant. Sadness and fear interact within the dark room that is this poem and can never be separate, maybe that is always the case: no escape.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the darkness? For me, the worst thing is that writing the poem is an escape and did make me feel a little bit better. Of course, this also led to a sense of guilt and the feeling that I was exploiting not just my friend’s death but my own feelings about it. The starless night pulls me in, sits me down, and delivers a stern lecture about the world/unworld that expects me to do something, anything about it. And again, no escape.

I do find some refuge in Elixir Press. I really love reading all those manuscripts, seeing all this great poetry and fiction before anyone else then bringing at least a little bit of it into print. There is usually very little conflict between my own work and the work I do with Elixir. I’ve gotten pretty good at carving out time for myself without taking anything from Elixir. I have to spend some time on my own work, or I wouldn’t be able to run Elixir at all.
I think most people understand this.

Dana Curtis

Dana Curtis

Dana Curtis’ third full-length collection of poetry, Wave Particle Duality, was recently published by blazeVOX Books. Her second collection, Camera Stellata, was published by CW Books, and her first book, The Body's Response to Famine, won the Pavement Saw Press Transcontinental Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in such publications as Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Colorado Review, and Prairie Schooner. She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Elixir Press and lives in Denver Colorado.
Dana Curtis

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post, Dana Curtis

  • October 15, 2019 at 2:38 pm
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    I can understand how you’d feel like you’re exploiting a tragedy, albeit unintentionally. But perhaps the other way to look at it is a memorial. A way to share your friends greatness, by expressing the amount of emptiness their loss leaves behind. Less of a gift to those who read it, and more of a gift to the one it’s about.

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  • October 15, 2019 at 10:29 pm
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    I think this really captures how writing about loss or grief can impact your soul so negatively. It is hard to write something so personal about a person who an not approve or disapprove of what you say without feeling you are taking advantage of someone. It’s comforting to see that this is not uncommon, and that we all must find a way through it in one way or another.

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