Kenneth P. Gurney. Tells us how you started in poetry? What age?
Cat Reece. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember; I recall writing my own fairy tales in a rainbow Lisa Frank journal as young as 6. My journey into poetry began more officially in 4th grade, however. My family had moved to a small border town in West Texas, and we were very much treated as outsiders. Poetry became a way that I could record my observations and adventures in such a strange town, as I became somewhat of a solitary wanderer. I’d sit behind a huge outdoor water fountain that had four spigots and write all through recess. It helped me cope with the constant feeling of ‘otherness’ that saturated my time there, and overall enabled me to flourish where I might have otherwise been crushed.
KPG. What is your favorite breakfast?
CR. Leftover pizza that I forgot about in the passenger seat from the night before; I love getting into the car, then noticing a pizza box from the previous evening’s adventure. It’s like a magical little morning miracle, with cheese.
KPG. Does your university degree influence your writing of poetry and how?
CR. I studied philosophy, as well as mythology and folk lore, a lot throughout my undergrad, and they definitely shape much of what I write. It definitely provides the threads for my poems—myth plays a huge role in almost everything I write, and philosophy helps me sort through the meaning and purpose of those myths.
KPG. Is there any endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?
CR. I come from two extremely musical parents who passed down much knowledge and passion to me. I sing (both classical and contemporary), and I play guitar. It feels so related to poetry that I have a hard time thinking of it as a disparate interest—it’s more just another genre of poetry.
I also play Dungeons and Dragons with much enthusiasm and dedication—this helps keep my creativity sharp, and give me an outlet for all the cheesy sword and sorcery frivolity running around in my mind all the time.
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?
CR. It would definitely be Said the Shotgun to the Head by Saul Williams [wikipedia]. This poem helps shatter any stereotypical notions of 18th century pastoral meandering poetry that have shaped a student’s definition of poetry (and their understandable aversion). I had always said that love was the most tired subject for anyone to write about, and there was nothing new to say about it—but this poem, this piece which about a single kiss, proved me so incredibly wrong.
KPG. What is your favorite National Park? Why?
CR. I love Carlsbad Caverns—I feel as though I’m plumbing the depths of Moria or the Lonely Mountain, looking for dwarven treasure and secret palaces, trying to avoid waking the goblins and balrogs. It’s like a strange and hidden world, almost like an entirely different planet.
KPG. What reoccurring themes or personal experience have you noticed in your poetry over the years?
CR. Definitely themes of mythology, fairy tales, and legends. They’re so telling about the world, about how things were and how people wanted them to become. I love adapting them, probing their deeper meaning and bringing it to new life. They hold truths and observations that are just as relevant today as when they were first spoken aloud by firelight.
Mythology also connects strongly with another recurring theme in my works—the exploration of what it means to be female, either in identity, biology, either, both. I think the word ‘woman’ has so much mythology around it, so many tales and untruths and truths and expectations—it’s a loaded word, and a loaded identity. I like to examine that—to pick at that myth and how it has changed, and how any of us can either live up to or escape the tropes and expectations of that myth.
KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some other sweet?
CR. Blue Icees, all the way.