10+ Questions with David R. DiSarro

by Laurin Macios | February 2017

David DiSarro was featured at Mass Poetry's second U35 reading in March 2015. // 10+ Questions! is a new series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming.

It's been a while! What's new in life?
I would have to say that the biggest change in my life has been welcoming a beautiful new baby into the world, Emery Quinn DiSarro.  I was fortunate enough to be able to take an 8-week leave after she was born and really spend some quality time with her, my wife, and our other two children.  A new baby is incredibly exhausting, but it has been fantastic to see her bond with her siblings, hit those wonderful (and terrifying) milestones, and to have a little more time for family.

What are you working on these days?
When Emery was a few months old, I traveled down to Connecticut to see my 94-year-old grandfather so he could meet his new great-granddaughter.  While we were visiting, I stumbled upon some old photographs, mostly from my grandfather’s time in the 4th and 83rd Infantry Divisions during WWII.  Most of the photographs were ordinary portraits, headshots of my grandfather in his uniform, or some candid photos with other G.I.s.  Thumbing through the pictures, I came across one image that was particularly compelling (and also a little disturbing).  It was a picture of another solider, smiling, with a gun pressed to his head, one finger on the trigger, and the other plugging his ear.  On the back, in my grandfather’s arthritic handwriting, it read, “May 1945 – Corporal Laughlin got a ‘Dear John’ from his girlfriend. P.S. He didn’t pull the trigger.” It was a remarkable photo, and since then I have been working on a series of poems that tell the story of my grandfather and his buddies, as well as other notable family members.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
I would like think that my poetry has changed (and hopefully for the better), but it is difficult for me to say.  Certainly, the subject matter has shifted away from close personal relationships and loss into more developed storytelling.  Whereas before I was concerned with an image or an object, and would try to drill down and find interesting representations or metaphors (sometimes without any real deeper idea or feeling behind the poem), now I try to establish a real direction, an arc, a fullness that was maybe missing in my earlier work.

Who/what are you reading lately?
Jane Kenyon, Theodore Roethke, Charles Simic, Ted Kooser, Mark Doty, Kay Ryan, Philip Levine, Hayden Carruth.

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
My first chapbook, entitled I Used To Play in Bands, was published by Finishing Line Press and can be purchased on their website, or through Amazon.com.

And in the style of 2000s email surveys...

Rain or sun?
Rain

Beach or mountain?  
Beach

What’s the last song you listened to?  
Brandi Carlile, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

Are you a good dancer?  
Horrendous, but I get better after a few drinks.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
What’s sleep?

What’s a habit you’re proud of breaking?
Smoking.

Tell us a joke you know by heart.  
“Did you straighten that guy out yet?”  
“What guy?”  
“Oliver Twist.”  

Pancakes or eggs?
Pancakes

What do you use more often, the dictionary or thesaurus?
Thesaurus


A New Poem

Runaway

She signaled for me to wait while she rolled
a cigarette, Connecticut shade tobacco smuggled
from the last five and dime in town, the dank poison
hidden in her bra.  Her shape contorted around the corner
of the family colonial, a sad monument set back from the road,  
idling against the heat, the residue, the etchings of our evenings
together.  Outside the gravel driveway unfolded the discarded map

of America, veins and arteries surging through towns seldom seen,
through cities carved from concrete.  What was left of us hit me like a burst
vessel, a road ahead, a steady onslaught of chain hotels, billboards, free breakfasts,
and the heavy eyelids of overnight managers and maintenance workers, muttering
obscenities while little children looked on, mouths agape.  Poor, pasty-legged fathers,
freed from slacks two or three weeks a year, poor mothers eyeing the muscular groundskeepers,
aching to be touched in unfamiliar ways, both staring across a table, seeing how much a person

could erode, like the sliver of an eclipse, a rust stain against the sky.
 

About the Poem
I consider “Runaway” to be a transition poem, one where I am still dealing with the subject matter of deep personal loss, but trying to be more of a storyteller.  One thing that surprised me with the poem was how it began focusing on a singular, insular relationship between two people, but expanded to include all these other characters, each so miserable in their current situations, each effectively looking to “run away” from something (or someone).