10+ QuEsTiOnS! with Hannah Larrabee

by Laurin Macios | June 2016

Hannah Larrabee was featured at Mass Poetry's very first U35 reading in May 2014. // 10+ Questions! is a new series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming. 

It's been two years. What's new in life? 
It’s been a busy two years. I adopted a dog, started a new job, attended my first AWP conference in Minneapolis, traveled to San Francisco, New Orleans, Iceland, and Italy, taught a couple writing classes at Northern Essex Community College, and moved to Salem, Massachusetts.  

What are you working on these days?
Aside from individual poems, I’ve been polishing my full-length manuscript. Over the past year, I’ve also been working on a chapbook of poems written while listening to a particular musician, so – that’s a little side project. (See below for a new poem by Hannah.)
>>Which musician?
Sufjan Stevens. I even went so far as to title the chapbook Sufjan, but... I think now it was more of a jumping off point for some of the poems. I wanted to inherit the tone of songs more than anything. The beginning of one of his songs, Impossible Soul (which is 25 minutes long, but the beginning and the end really get to me) felt like the rhythm of a train, so I wrote a poem called "Impossible Soul" while on the train listening to the song. It's that kind of thing.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways? 
Yes, absolutely. I guess that awareness comes from editing poems written around that time. Recently, I had a line spring up about wanting my older poems back – the voice that could write those poems. It’s not easy to articulate changes in voice, but I feel like there was more vulnerability in my writing. And, to me, that’s the good stuff.

Who/what are you reading lately?
I was on a post-apocalyptic fiction binge for a while, and thankfully there are people in my life who know enough to ask what I’ve been reading and pull me out if necessary. Now I’m reading a sci-fi novella, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Forest of Memory, and making my way through Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime (short stories). As for poetry, I’ve been reading Franz Wright’s translations of Rilke and Jim Harrison’s Dead Man’s Float.  

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
I read at Porter Square Books as part of a Printer’s Devil Review event, and at Trident as part of a Boston-area adjunct professor reading series. I’ve had poems pop up in PDR, Rock & Sling, and Entropy

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

Beach or mountain?
I fretted over this far too long. I love both, but – mountain.

What’s the last song you listened to?  
The Frames – Fitzcarraldo

What are your current top 5 favorite books of any genre?
Katherine Larson’s Radial Symmetry (poetry)
Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise (poetry)
José Saramago’s The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (fiction)
Teilhard de Chardin’s Building The Earth (scientific & spiritual treatise in poetic form?)
Kevin Brockmeir’s The View From The Seventh Layer (short stories)

Are you a good dancer? 
I’m a direct descendant of Puritans who came here in 1637. Dancing is forbidden! 

What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?  
I’ve pulled my share of all-nighters, but I truly LOVE sleep. 98% of the time my dreams are surreal experiences (sections of forest folding up like origami, Biodomes in the desert, etc.) so, I’ve been trying to practice lucid dreaming. I don’t like the idea that we waste almost a third of our lives sleeping. If the brain processes dreams just as it processes waking life, then maybe we haven’t devoted enough attention to our dream lives. Charlie Morley is someone to catch online in interviews if you’re into that kind of thing – he takes a more Buddhist/illusory reality perspective. 

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store? 
A collection of records all signed and dated, with programs from live performances tucked inside.

Tell us a joke you know by heart. 
A neutron walks into a bar and asks “how much for a beer?” Bartender says “for you, no charge.” 

Pancakes or eggs? 
Crepes (just French pancakes, right?)

If you could have a super power, what would it be? 
Telepathy with an on/off switch. I’d also really like to visit any habitable planet in a binary star system to see what the view is like, but I’m thinking that goes beyond super powers. 

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

What’s your favorite flower?
Magnolia or Morning Glory.

You’re stranded on a desert island but luckily you have these three things with you…
Magnesium Fire Starter
Kona Coffee
Amelia Earhart 


Praying Mantis

Oh, I can tell you how easily someone can turn
away, but don’t take it all to heart.

No one else is looking for that dark energy,
that thing that holds this all together, even here.


Last night the wind kicked up through the window
and left the wine glasses chattering, hanging from their stems
like upside down tulips.        


A virus is chasing my beanbag cells. It is gaining speed.
I am losing.


I look for something inside Snapple bottle caps
but find only useless facts like: “The Praying Mantis
is the only insect that can turn its head.”

Well, it also decapitates its lovers. So, there’s that.


You keep up with your beautiful words.
You set a hard line for the horizon.


But I am in love with the moon backlit
by only a sliver of light, enough to reveal
the whole dark mess.

In the end, I want it closer. 

I am not the Praying Mantis, stiff-armed
and sharp-edged.

I am the night grass (the whole
busy world). I am the way it feels
on bare feet.

I am the way I fall into it.
I am the way of falling.