Kenneth P. Gurney. What got you started into poetry? What age?
Kristian Macaron: Evidently, I wrote my first poem when I was around five. It was written in crayon and there is a line that says: “I held a stripe from the tiger tree”! I loved hearing stories from my dad at the dinner table. I became a ‘writer’ in fourth grade, when I began to write my own stories. I fell in love with poetry and language in college, when I was learning to connect the arts of writing and theater; I found that—for me, at least—poetry was the link. This journey, the process of it has served me very well, and even when I spend more time on prose, falling back into poetry is a process of catharsis and purification of self. I can’t see myself going back to a time without it. I have become a much more connected person.
KPG. What is your favorite sandwich?
KM: Tomato sandwiches are made with toast, a little bit of butter and a gigantic slab of an heirloom tomato. Heirloom tomatoes are famous for being enormous and colorful hybrids with varying sweetness and flavor. When I lived in Massachusetts, one of my favorite things to do was to visit Verrill Farm in Concord and choose from their selection of otherworldly tomatoes! Tomato sandwiches are one of the most comforting meals I can think of.
KPG. How much influence does your university degree(s) has on your writing of poetry and how?
KM: Like many people, but particularly artists and writers, I thought about my degree choice very carefully. I decided to study writing during my bachelor’s program because I loved writing. However, deciding to get an MFA in Fiction over a more ‘employable’ master’s degree was a difficult decision. Many people didn’t understand why I would want to spend the time or money. I considered all of this, but there was one moment I decided that if I didn’t apply to MFA programs I would never know what it would be like to spend my time focused completely on writing. It was—without a doubt—the best decision I have ever made. In my program at Emerson, I was lucky to find an encouraging and connected cohort and an artistic support system I treasure. The instructors and classes were also so valuable, but more than that, they offered me a chance to prioritize my art and to contemplate this craft and see it as important and affirming; writing is more than just an art form, it is an immersive life.
KPG. Is there any other endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?
KM: I write in many genres, and have so many projects, but the one thing I love as much as writing is adventuring. I try to have an adventure every day, even if it’s a tiny but un-ordinary moment like buying a slushie in a gas station. I travel every chance I have and spent last summer traveling all over New Mexico, and parts of Cape Cod and Peru and kept track of it on my website blog.
KPG. Tell us about one of your favorite poetry experiences.
KM: In 2008, I was part of the cast of the production, “Full Frontal Poetry” at the University of New Mexico and directed by Paul Ford. Even though I had been a writer and a writing student for several years by then, when I look back, this production was formative for me. It contained the moment when I learned that writing has a function. This show was a shaped compilation of work written by the cast, poetry and narrative with an emphasis on nursery rhyme and coming-of-age. It was a three-month process of creating and breaking inhibitions, and the result was a stunning performance and an experience that shaped my own life as a writer.
KPG. If you could wave a magic wand and place a poetry book into every high school english classroom as required reading, which one would it be and why?
KM: Rupi Kaur’s collection, Milk and Honey, because she has written empowering poetry primarily for women that is accessible to so many audiences. I think every young person should read her work. [Milk and Honey audio book, youtube]
KPG. Where was your last selfie taken? With anyone?
KM: My roommate’s puppy, Loki. He was sulking because I was leaving for work.
KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.
KM: The two literary websites I read the most are Poetry Foundation: poetry.com —because is it a treasure trove of poetry & Nautilus Magazine —because I am obsessed with the connectivities of poetry and the natural world. Nautilus continuously publishes the most accessible and incredible science and nature writing.
KPG. Do you have a dream that you work toward achieving. If so, please tell us about it.
KM:. I have so many projects, I could go on forever!! My current pet project is a screenplay about the pirate ship Whydah Gally and her captain, ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy. I would love to see it as a movie someday. I am also trying to write a set of science-based children’s books about space pirates. Really, my dream is to see the world, find as much wonder as possible, and find ways to write about real people doing incredible things.
KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and which book of theirs should we seek?
KM. Libby Hart is one of my favorite poets. She is an acclaimed Australian poet; not necessarily “little known” but her work is not easily accessible in the US. I picked up her book, Wild, by chance in Grolier Poetry bookstore in Cambridge, MA, and fell in love with her use of language and how attuned the emotional aspects of her poetry are connected to the natural world.
KPG. If you could be present at any moment in history as a safe observer or unsafe participant, what event would you visit and why?
KM: I obsess over real-life adventure stories, but there is one I love above all others. I would be on a pirate ship with Sam Bellamy on his Caribbean quest for the Whydah Gally.
KPG. What reoccurring themes have you noticed in your poetry over the years? Is there a point of personal experience you revisit often?
KM: I started really writing poetry and exploring the connectivities in my own life when my life suddenly changed course. The future I had hoped for was suddenly unwritten. For many reasons, my first poetry chapbook, Storm, looks at this time of catharsis (which is literally translated as ‘purification of loss’) using named New England-bound storms of five years as a lens for the journey I found at my feet. I have learned to walk in faith and prayer, and that this will lead to exploration and understanding of an emotional space. I have learned through my writing that I am constantly unpacking the connections of who I am, where I have been, and the present of being ‘in place’ as an independent but interconnected force of creation. Because of this, I write a lot about the natural world; water, particularly, is an interesting element I revisit quite often. I’m looking more widely now, at the concept of geologic time. My next poetry cycle is about volcanoes. I’ve included three of them here! I’m finding they are more and more elemental, but still connected to water, the earth, the unknown, and the miracle it is to be human.
KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate or some other sweet?
KM: Paletas… Definitely paletas.