Getting to Know Anne Elezabeth Pluto And Her New Book Lubbock Electric
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover you wanted to write poems?
My father recited Russian and Polish poetry to me as a child. When I was 5 he took me to the local bookstore and bought me 3 books that would shape my life: A Child’s Book of Verse; Russian Fairytales, and The Arabian Nights.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?
I write at various times of the day (and night) – when I am “moved” or when I have carved out a block of time to work. The afternoon light in both my dining room and my office often call me to sit down and write.
Where do your poems most often come from—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
Images, phrases, ideas, and memory.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
There are many; here’s a short list: Shakespeare ( I live with him half of the year…); Rumi; Anya Akhmatova; Linda Gregerson; Sharon Olds; Tom Sleigh; Elizabeth Bishop; Emily Dickinson; Robert Creeley.
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 is a project book?
The book was first an ebook put out by Argotist Ebooks in 2012. That first “version” of the book was hastily compiled (I had a very small window of time to do it ) – I was never happy with the order – this Nixes Mate edition is carefully crafted.
Cowboy movies and TV shows were a staple of my Brooklyn childhood. The “romance” of the far-way west was woven into Russian fairy tales and the stories of the Arabian nights. I have long been interested in narrative journeys and the calendar year: the seasons, both in their weather and in their religious holidays. These poems are a collection of love poems, started when I first met my husband, who then lived in Lubbock, Texas. The first 12 poems start the aim to create a heart made from the cotton cattle prairie landscape and the two people from disparate worlds as they fall, together, into the future, which leads the speaker back to other worlds: the following 22 poems weave Brooklyn family lore and Boston landmarks to finish the book.
One evening we passed the Lubbock Electric Company building; the sun was setting and the yellow bricks were illuminated. Flying out of the city at night, I could see the city lit up and stretching on forever. A poem came out of those two visuals and became the title of this collection.
Read an excerpt from her book here:
Lords of the Wichita
High grass to winter wheat
eastern horizon ending in pinpoint
precision on the Great Plains
the Buffalo come to feed
in the morning stumbling
forward nostrils flared in
the weak winter sunlight.
We search for them in the Wichita
mountain preserve wild longhorn
cattle graze in dry pastures – subtle
noses find what tastes best – spotted
hides and painted markings – calves
stray close to their mommas – and
all is still – hawks on treetops
perched – a lonely life of watching
time – deer bed down to catch
the high noon overhead – prairie
dogs protected too in the Wichita
peeking out at passersby – in the trees
hidden a longhorn bull chews patiently
grown into his great beauty waiting as the cow
eats; he has all the time in this world
for her and they will make another
spotted calf next spring the Buffalo
leave a trail – wet patties to trace
the course of their long protected
walk – we find them - a phalanx of five
heads tilted west as the wind stirs
the great prairie – giant as boulders
easily mistaken for Gods.