An Interview with Rachel Ponce de Leon- Poetry Editor


Poetry Editor (2)


1. What are you looking for as the Poetry editor for the Fall?
As poetry editor, I want pieces where people tell their truths artfully. I really don’t discriminate in terms of style as long as something  resonates in the pieces. I want pieces from poets who can spot the difference between poetry and emotionally-charged prose with line breaks. I want to showcase briefer poets who are confident that they can do more than state the obvious in just a few lines. I want to see what the student body can bring to life with the same old 26 letters.

2. What is the best advice you have received on writing?
The best writing advice I’ve received may not be for everyone, but it amounts to “don’t force it.” If you’re practically banging your head against your laptop/notebook/typewriter/phone screen, taking a break is no sin. I’ve found that it becomes harder for me to write in different times of the year. This doesn’t necessarily mean to stop writing; but it does mean a different approach is necessary. For instance, if you have a sestina that’s been simmering on high heat in your mind since the end of your summer fling, but sitting down to work on it proves fruitless? You could still keep a journal, maybe do some free-writing, or work on something with a completely different spin. Work with your creative seasons.

3. Why is poetry still important?
Poetry is still important because people still have feelings and get frustrated. The ways in which they manifest are what shift. I think more people than ever are writing poetry today because, living as we do in a social formation that prioritizes the individual, emotionally reaching others can be a daunting task. When someone starts a poem, they are granted a space to work out any mental kinks and to be vulnerable. For that reason I think a lot of people who write poetry today view their practice as a sacred space.

4. Strangest topic you’ve written on.
I once wrote a ballad for a class based on a fake news story. The article in question concerned a gay superhero who found himself stranded on a desert island with a high school crush and nearly sacrificed himself to an angry volcano god. The ballad ended with a double entendre about otters. Nothing else I have written has come close to being so bizarre.

5. What classes have helped your writing that are non-workshop classes?
I am pursuing a double-major in Religious Studies, which also demands just a little smidge of reading and writing. Reading heavily-researched scholarly analyses and having to explain and expand on those in an essay format has been a crucial exercise for me in terms of both organizing ideas and writing concisely. Regardless of what kind of writing I’m doing.

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