getting to know diane croft and her new book The Unseen Partner: Love & Longing in the Unconscious
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems?
My father traveled Monday through Friday, selling chemicals for an oil company. Underneath his grey suit, he was a Renaissance man and I missed him terribly. Perhaps that’s what made Sunday evenings so memorable, when he would stretch across the bed and read aloud to my sisters and me: “The time has come,” the Walrus said,/ “To talk of many things:/ Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—/ Of cabbages and kings—/ And why the sea is boiling hot—/ And whether pigs have wings.”
Over and over I begged him to read this strange and exciting tale by Lewis Carroll where an unlikely pair tricked the oysters. It’s alternation of iambic trimeters and iambic tetrameters (unknown to me at the time) sounded like music. It spoke to my imagination, and I was transported into another world.
I first wrote a Canterbury Tale in fifth grade about a gay squire who loved to sing, badly. Fortunately it was lost somewhere between Ohio and Boston. I returned to poetry unexpectedly at mid-life, when it found me.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write.
I write in an attic room in our Victorian farmhouse, which my husband affectionately calls my “womb with a view.”
Twenty years ago, I fell into an altered state of consciousness, almost always in the late mornings, and over three years composed 700 poems. And then it stopped.
Nowadays I write only when I feel compelled to capture a fleeting thought or image.
Where do your poems most often come from—and image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
I believe most of my work comes from the unconscious, either my own personal not-knowing or from what remains hidden in the collective psyche. All of my poetry evolves around an image, often archetypal in nature.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
Rilke, Rumi, Jung, Corbin, Blake, Emerson, Jesus, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Tell us a little bit about your new collection: What’s the significance of the title? Are there over-arching themes? What was the process of assembling it? Was it a project book, etc.?
The title, The Unseen Partner: Love & Longing in the Unconscious, refers to our collective unconscious and its ancient wisdom—some would say, “everything that has been thought and experienced since the beginning of time.” Of course that covers more territory than anyone can hope to capture, so my collection is only a hint of what’s there. It relates to the “subtler laws that rule the hidden spiritual planes and the inner realm of consciousness” (Yogananda).
When the poetry “arrived,” I noticed how strangely archaic the language was, for example: Born in a cataclysm of cosmic violence / the lunar birth of daughter moon. Turns out, mythically speaking, the course of history swings between sun and moon eras, something I couldn’t possibly have known on a conscious level. This is what I mean by, and what Jung meant by, the collective unconscious and what “it” knows, i.e., gnosis.
The overarching themes are the potency of the collective unconscious, emerging signs of the archetypal feminine (the moon is a symbol of the reflective principle), changing images of the godhead (the divine), the evolution of consciousness, and what’s coming next.
The book took twenty years to produce, from the first poetic impulse until its publication in September 2016. I pushed hard but it would not be rushed or forced out prematurely. It contains poetic verse, psychological/spiritual commentaries, relevant quotes, and 65 full-color images. It’s a nonfiction book, with endnotes and an index, about the imaginal world and its creative impact on our lives.
Read a poem from Diane's new book:
Matters of Heart
The gods grew tired of waiting
and woke me from a heavy sleep,
not by shaking my shoulders
but by breaking my heart.