getting to know Meia Geddes and hER new book Love Letters to the WOrld
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems?
I came to poetry through prose. My mom read to me early on, wonderful writers like Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl. Before bedtime, she’d sit on a hard stool and lean against the wall to stay awake. Every once in awhile she’d doze off, but I’d yell at her to keep reading. I must admit poets were always these otherworldly, ethereal creatures, to me, so I never aspired to be one or really identified as one. On the other hand, I often aspire to write from that place where poetry exists, where the atmosphere of the mind is adrift in that particularly open way. When all is said and done, I think that words and different forms of expression—whether prose or poetry or something in between—have always been essential, since the first scribble.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite place or time to write?
I’ve taken to reserving a half-hour block of time strictly for writing each day and if I don’t do it I have to roll it over to the next day. It’s amazing how much time can accumulate. I like most to write alone and at night with a bright lamp and paper.
Where do your poems most often come—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
I’ll more or less focus on letting the mind wander. Thoughts will accumulate in my notebook and I will attempt to alter or add to them or combine them or just leave them be. Often it’s about trying to capture at least the edges of a feeling. Other times, it’s more of a thought experiment or an exploration of some particular obsession. Lately I seem to have adopted others’ obsessions. Roses, snow, apples…
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
Recently, I’ve realized I’m drawn to writers who feel like they live in both prose and poetry. Writers like Richard Brautigan, Kahlil Gibran, Joanna Howard, Milan Kundera, Clarice Lispector, Carole Maso, Mary Oliver, Mary Ruefle, Jennifer Tseng. Of course there are others, as well.
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.
I had been telling myself I should try to write a love letter to the world for a while—whatever that might mean and whatever form that might take—and finally did so in 2014. The world as “body, concept, stranger.” The first letter in the book is, essentially, the first letter I wrote. After that one, they just kept coming out. I like to say that the book is an exercise in love—in loving oneself, others, the world. Even and especially when it's hard. An extended meditation on love, approaching, being open. I arranged the letters into six sections, and in doing this, I was thinking about the various ways in which we find ourselves in relation with the world. In order of section and as a rough approximation, there is: the excitement and ecstasy of approach (“To fall into you”), the recollection of and maybe necessary reflection on origin (“Easing forth”), the recognition of those existing alongside us (“In light of all those other lives”), the complexities of language (“Embracing language like unrequited love”) and love (“To love a stranger”), and the constant, necessary, insistent, beautiful return—of the world to us and us to the world (“Your constant arrival”).
Read one of Meia Geddes's love letters:
My dear world,
There is something sunny and blue about you. I would like to embrace blue, sometimes, but it can be difficult to embrace a color. I would like to slide through the blue and let it become gray and let it wash away. I would like to fall into you, a raindrop hitting earth, for if you are a raindrop hitting earth, you become the world. I think to be the soaking sphere of a raindrop is a very good thing, for you evaporate time and again, then always rediscover yourself as something else and also the same. Perhaps I am just a slip of space to you, world, but that is okay. Here I am, bits of slips of space. I wonder — how to explain — it’s like when it rains and all the pitter-patters seem to accumulate someplace other than the ground, someplace terribly close to the toes or the eyes or the heart. That is how I hope we can be — pouring into one another in different ways.