Claire is a poet living in New York City. She’s in a PhD program in English at the CUNY Grad Center and teaches literature and writing at CUNY and elsewhere. As an alternative to reading, writing, and talking about those things, she also sources, refinishes and resells vintage furniture. Currently working on a collection of poetry about history, apocalypse, textuality and the imagination and a dissertation exploring the ways that Dante’s Divine Comedy is repurposed, rewritten and reinterpreted in poetry and fiction in the Americas in the late 20th century.
How do you get in the zone?
Claire: I wake up early and sit by the window. I live on the 4th floor at the top of a hill so I have a view of the sky and a sense of distance and big scope. I find this outlook very productive; it’s like a portal.
How do you conquer a creative block?
Claire: I convince myself that what I am doing is a joke or game, and that the object is not the object but the pleasure of it. Then there is no pressure for perfection or even any type of quality, and something else can happen.
...poetry and dreams are not so different from one another. They are both virtual complexes where the logics of physical space, rationality, reality become changed and plastic and lose authority.
Do you dream a lot? Does it influence your art? Do you have recurring dreams?
Claire: Yes! I love dreams. An aspect of my creative and intellectual practice has been concerned with medieval dream visions – Chaucer, Dante... poetry and dreams are not so different from one another. They are both virtual complexes where the logics of physical space, rationality, reality become changed and plastic and lose authority. A dream or a poem has a different kind of authority: what happens there doesn’t have to account for itself in the same way an idea or a day job or a product does, it just IS, like an hour, a color, a tree or a planet. The static that is produced between this condition of just being, unaccountably, and meaning or seeming to mean something is very exciting to me.
Do you have anyone that you love to collaborate with?
Claire: My friend James Loop, a really excellent poet and party animal. When I tell him a terrible idea I have, he never tells me it’s terrible, which is perhaps a dubious virtue, but one that I find very helpful when indulged in moderation.
this matter may weave
over and over itself, as
a tide, grey-blue, perspicacious
as tides are on the shore
beating in recession
and advance alike.
This tide of silver
chiming, as the wings
of birds in reliquary
forest, where birds
live when they have died
in Latin marching, Latin
diction. Or in wood.
The whole wood
that turns, the earth
that overcomes itself
coming over the hill
as water does, full
of bubbles, over trees, becoming
bridges, uncertainty coming off
it, like poplin, lightly
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