Welcome to our Q & A feature article, Poet Chat. In each issue of the KotaPress Poetry Journal, we talk with one of the poets whose work is currently being featured. Submit your poems for the next issue, and we could be chatting with you next time.

This issue we are talking to Claudia Mauro, poet-extraordinaire and founder of Whitaker Press (now with full non-profit status and known as Whit Press). Also featured in this issue are Mauro's poems "The Difference Between Me and Her," "Vigil," and "Invocation on Hudson Street." As you can tell from Mauro's answers below, poetry is more than art for her-- poetry is Life!


Chatting with Claudia Mauro

Q. What does poetry mean to you?

A. William Stafford said "Poetry is just language with the mistakes taken out." There are so many ways I could describe my love for poetry, but perhaps what I love best is a good poem's recognition of the limitations of language. Words are not experience, they can only imply experience.

What's said and what is— are entirely different things.

To write a good poem you must be very clear that saying and being are entirely different things. Poetry is language aware of itself. The true magician understands that real magic lives in the ordinary. The power of the trick, the healing, the prophesy, (in other words, the poem) lies in the ability to rearrange the perceptual syntax of our day to day assumptions and rationalizations about ourselves and the world that surrounds and sustains us.

To be aware of the limitations of words renders them magical. It gives a poet the ability to imply different realities, to recreate the emotion of a person, place or thing— to use language as an arrow to point to the creative energy and possibility beyond language.

Q. Why did you start writing poetry?

A. I started writing poetry almost by accident. A good friend had heard about a poetry workshop that some Dame was giving in her house. I went (with an attitude) and after the first night I decided I'd drop out. But for some reason I went the second night (my friend dropped out) and my heart caught fire. It's been burning ever since, and that Dame, Shelley Tucker, has become one of my most beloved, dearest friends.

My whole life, personal and professional, became about poetry. It is amazing (wonderful and terrifying) how a simple, seemingly mundane decision can transform your entire life.

Q. Where are you today in your poetry career?

A. In my writing today I struggle with finding the time and psychic space to write. Financial insecurity is a great big pain in the ass, but I guess the solution is writing poems about that great big pain in the ass. That's what I love about poetry—it wastes nothing. After all a grrl's got to be willing to shovel a lot of mud to find the occasional ruby.


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