Wednesday, September 4, 2019

On Letting in the Wild: An Interview with Ruth Awad

During OPA’s Sun and Moon Poetry Festival, Ruth Awad will be leading a workshop, “On Persona: Exploring Other Voices Respectfully.” Please click here to learn more about Ruth and her workshop.  We are so excited to have her at the festival!

In the following interview with Sayuri Ayers, the OPA Treasurer, Ruth shares her views on the natural world and poetry.

SA: May you tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had with the natural world?

RA: I think of my dogs as a tether to the world itself, but they are also representative of what it means to let the wild into our lives. I am in awe all the time that these beautiful animals, bred down from wolves, don’t eat me while I’m asleep and helpless.

SA: Is your poetry influenced by the natural world? If so, please tell us how.

RA: I can’t compartmentalize the natural world from – what exactly? There are trees outside my window. There is grass beside the sidewalk. I live in the city, but does that mean I am divorced from the natural world? I like to think that’s not the case. So yes, the natural world exists in my work. I recently downloaded this bird song recognition app called BirdGenie so I can identify what type of bird is chirping and what they’re going on about. Highly recommended.

SA: If you could introduce yourself to others through a poem, which poem (yours or one by another poet) would you choose?

RA: Probably this poem because it really speaks to my obsession right now with how we can never fully understand the interior lives of others.

SA: What element(s) of craft do you focus on in your poetry?

RA: I’m always trying to cultivate a more active imagination to improve my metaphors and associative leaps.

SA: How would you encourage poets who are navigating the current political/cultural climate? Is there a poem that has helped you?

RA: Your poetry is a political tool – use it as such.

I love this poem by Jamaal May – “There Are Birds Here” – how it pushes back against harmful tropes about Detroit.

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