Kristina Marie Darling, with work both in PANK 4 and the December issue, talks about history, Santa’s lap and recommended reading for a dreaded holiday.
Do you feel/have any special connection to the children in Peter Pan?
Whenever people ask me that, I never know what to say. Â And I think that’s because I’m more like a female version of Peter Pan than any of the children. I’ve been in school for something completely impractical (whether it’s cultural studies, philosophy, or literature) since I turned eighteen, and I don’t anticipate completely finishing school before I’m thirty. Â With that said, I definitely have a fear of growing up, or interacting in any way with the real world.
Have you ever used a travel agent? When was the last time you traveled by Plane? Train? Ocean-going vessel?
I’ve never used a travel agent, mostly because I don’t like having a trip completely mapped out beforehand. Â I think the best part of traveling is discovering something unique or unexpected once you’ve arrived somewhere. Â When I left for upstate New York last summer, I didn’t anticipate meeting a bunch of sculptors and joining them for a road trip. Â Or having to fend off a four foot tall, drunken cowboy when I was in Arkansas. Â But for me, these are the things you remember, and usually a travel agent can’t help you find them.
My last plane ride: a trip to Chicago to read at Myopic Books. Â Train: taking the Metro to my philosophy classes. Â Ocean-going vessel: the ferry from Seattle to Port Townsend, Washington to do a residency at the Centrum Foundation.
Do you feel more inspired during or by any particular season?
During the academic year, I tend not to write as many poems because I’m preoccupied with my responsibilities as a graduate student. Â But it’s difficult not to feel inspired in the summer. Â The season brings not only peace of mind but the opportunity to travel and, even more importantly, the time to read as much as I want. Â I can’t imagine writing without gorging myself on books first. Â In many ways, poetry is like a conversation with other artistic people, and it’s hard for me to write unless someone else’s work sparks a response. With that said, give me a stack of books by the poolside any day. Â I’ll be writing in no time.
Did you cry on Santa’s lap?
I’m proud to say I never cried on Santa’s lap. Â But when he’d ask me if I’d been good since last Christmas, my answer was always the same: “Um…. Well…. It’s marginal. Â I was really hoping you wouldn’t ask me that.” Â With all that rebelliousness and mischief, Santa probably never guessed I’d grow up to be a poet.
When was the last time you prayed. What did you pray for?
What is better, discovering a great new author you love or going on a great trip?
Discovering a great new author, for sure. There’s nothing like being reminded what’s possible in a piece of writing.
Do you prefer to shower or bathe? Why?
Showers. So I can use my Gucci shower gel.
When and where was the last time you slept in a sleeping bag?
Awhile ago, I was supposed to stay at an artist colony for a week and a half. Â But they forgot to save a room for me. Â So when I got there, they just handed me a sleeping bag and a tent. Â It never feels good to be forgotten, but the whole camping thing was kind of fun.
What period of history are you most interested in and how has it affected your writing?
I’ve always been fascinated by the nineteenth century. Â Lately I’ve been exploring the conflict between Enlightenment values and Romanticism, and trying to write poems that allow the two perspectives to coexist. Â The sequence I’m currently working on presents an eighteenth century fascination with logical systems, mathematics, and technology alongside nineteenth century ideas about the sublimity of uncultivated nature. Â While I do think it’s important to keep up on contemporary poetry, I’m always amazed by how much of my writing is inspired by “off the syllabus” reading in history, philosophy, and even mathematics.
What book should someone read if they dread the holidays?
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.