Mikki Aronoff | Interview

Kenneth P. Gurney. Tells us how you started in poetry? What age?

Mikki Aronoff. Started “passively,” listening to nursery rhymes, so, er, young….Wrote some when I lived in San Francisco and Singapore – short stories and poems, but from the late 80’s on I stayed with non-fiction articles about my work in therapeutic and educational puppetry. Fast forward to the last two years and poetry’s turned into a passion. I picked it up when I stalled on my artwork and didn’t want to stop being creative. I remembered how much I loved doing poetry and that good poetry (for me) is visual. I jumped in with both feet and never looked back. I constantly feel it’s new and exciting to me and that I’m completely new to it and it to me. I’m thankful for the open and generous poetry community here in Albuquerque that keeps feeding me!

KPG. What is your favorite breakfast?

MA. Tofu scramble with green chile, garlic, onions, tomato, spinach. Side o’ hash browns. It changes, but it has to be spicy. Gets the day going, along with a strong cuppa.

KPG. Does your university degree influence your writing of poetry and how?

MA. Only in that I had experiences at university, and experiences inform my poetry. I didn’t write poetry then. But it’s all grist for the mill.

KPG. Is there any endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?

MA. Cooking. Enriches me a bit too much. Smooching on my pooches. Not fattening. Animal welfare/rights issues. Animals don’t have a voice. Or we don’t listen.

KPG. Tell about one of your favorite poetry experiences.

MA. Again, impossible to limit. Every time I meet with other poets to learn, to share, to have fun is uniquely enriching. Kudos again to our poetry community.

KPG. Do you have a connection to the American Civil War? Relative who served? Visited a battlefield and have a story?

MA. I’m not drawn to war sites. Reverse magnets at work here. My friend Elizabeth Stark painted beautiful abstract pieces about that period. That’s about as close as I got. I like my wars in the abstract.

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?

MA. Not a clue, really. I’m too new at this. Citizen [via Gray Wolf Press] by Claudia Rankine [wikipedia] is a powerful book. Listen to Lenelle Moïse [wikipedia]. Maybe make poetry writing collaborative with art and/or music or drama classes.

KPG. Where was your last selfie taken?  With anyone?

MA. Too self-conscious to do selfies.

KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.

MA. Frequent input from sites like Rattle, Silver Birch, Poetry Breakfast, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Foundation, websites I have poems in. Love friends’ and others’ poems when they appear on FB. Blogs such as your own. I know I’m leaving things out.

KPG. What is your favorite National Park? Why?

MA. Not National – Cumberland Falls, a state park, in Kentucky. We stayed there a couple times when I was a child. Falls to walk under, grits for breakfast. What a combination. I also loved the Smokies. State parks seem cozier. I’m into cozy these days.

KPG. Please tell about a dream that you work toward achieving at this time.

MA. People eating plant-based food instead of animals. Think of all the suffering that would end!

KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and suggest one book of theirs we should purchase?

MA. I feel inspired by the impulses and efforts and expression of each person I read or hear, but I’ll choose a group rather than a single person. The older I get, the more I’m blown away by the gifts and the energy of the very young poets (pre-adults of any age). So many bright talents out there. The internet throws them at you all the time. Rattle publishes beautiful poems by kids from time to time – as young as four! Random finger on a spinning poetry globe: This week I read and enjoyed Open letter to Dymel by Trace DePass, a student at Brooklyn College and the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. It was on the Poetry Breakfast site. Last I checked, no book. And consider New Mexico’s own Sarita Gonzalez! And – yes! – a book! So many others. Can’t keep up with those young ‘uns. We need to support them…..Okay, I can’t forget to mention the incredible poetry written by Afghan women. Two books I treasure are I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, and Songs of Love and War: Afghan Women’s Poetry. The poems reveal strong women bursting through extraordinary times to create the beauty that is poetry.

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?

MA. A day ago? An hour ago? So many things to try to reverse, shove back into the bag. Every minute.

KPG. What reoccurring themes or personal experience have you noticed in your poetry over the years?

MA. Longing. Aging and its involuntary shape-shifting. Infirmity. Death. I wonder why….

KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some other sweet?

MA. Dark, always and forever dark. I love making a dark chocolate bark with pistachios, toasted cardamom, currants, salt. Chocolate is poetry.

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