Audrey Dimola will be one of the featured poets in Hot House: A Summer Poetry Extravaganza on Thursday, July 31 @ Organic Modernism in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, produced by 3Po3try NYC (https://www.facebook.com/3po3trynyc).
Infinitely curious and hell-bent on painting her world in the brightest colors possible, Dimola is a proudly born-and-raised Queens writer/poet/curator, cross-genre collaborator, and ever-intrepid literary explorer. She is the author of "Decisions We Make While We Dream," a poetry and prose collection spanning 2000 to 2012, guerrilla sticker poet of the Compass Project, and founder of reading/live writing series Nature of the Muse. A crusader for Queens culture since her college years, Audrey organized the first ever Queens Literary Town Hall at Queens Council on the Arts, bringing together the brightest literary lights in her home borough, and has curated arts events for Queens Museum and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. She is one of the hosts of the Inspired Word's Wednesday night open mic @ COFFEED in Long Island City, Queens, and is currently finishing up work on her second book, "Traversals," set for release in Fall 2014.
Find out more about Audrey @ http://audreydimola.com and follow her on Twitter @ audreydwrites and Instagram @ audreyleopard.
The following is our quick interview with Ms. Dimola (who, like a lot of poets, eschews capitalized words and is particularly playful with punctuation):
What’s your definition of poetry?
poetry is the heart speaking – and the heart doesn’t always work with logic, with rationale, within limits. poetry – it’s mesmerizing, it’s lyrical, it’s useful, it’s abstract, it’s mystical, it’s profound. revelatory. poetry is trying to put the infinite onto a page. convey the ache, the joy, the longing.. break a shaft of light into a series of words. remember a summer evening. a first kiss. a last embrace. play with form, play with meaning, play with possibility. that’s the thing about it i love most – you can PLAY.
What one word describes your writing style?
"electroluminescent" - luminescence produced electrically! which for me translates to two hugely important forces in my world, my being, my work: light and energy! that, or just straight-up "ache" - because ache is intensity of FEELING, both beautiful or terrible. unbearable - you can ache for what's lost or ache from pure joy..
Does your poetry have a central theme? And if so, what is it?
it’s definitely the immortal in the mortal frame. there is a mysticism about it but it’s always tied to emotion. longing, ache in every sense of the word, nostalgia, freedom. tangling with god, with the beyond, with limits, with our memories. it churns out in images.. the natural world is always a mirror for me.
What's your idea of the perfect poem?
an explosion in the heart.. a dead-on suckerpunch and a sloppy, lingering kiss afterwards. ha! honestly - it's something you can't forget. it's something that hits you hard, lifts you up, makes you thankful you read it, or wish you could be that brave - something people from all backgrounds can appreciate and grasp onto, not just poetry fans or lit lovers. i love flowery words and visceral images, but also poems that are deceivingly simple but profound - something you can take with you, something you can USE.
What's your best writing moment? What's your worst writing moment?
best is letting it flow. the words that come over me like a mystic sensation - that just tumble out of me, and i let them be. i feel like they're coasting off from the current of the universe..
worst is trying too hard, judging myself.
If you could steal one line from any poem, what would it be?
such an amazing and difficult question! the line i have in my email signature is from kabir: "if you don't break your ropes while you're alive, do you think ghosts will do it after?" wow.
What’s your favorite place to write?
writing always comes out of restlessness for me. either an excitement bursting out of bones, a shock of resonance from the universe, a sense of ennui i can’t shake. it’s always coming out of that motion – either pacing the sidewalk with no shoes, scribbling on the train, sprawling in the grass, lurking in the memory of someplace somewhere else. i love writing outside or against a window. i love physically writing on everything (vandalism, shhh) – but i always come back to a good ol’, battered up, sticker-covered notebook. you always do, with a mind that never stops. i find that movement informs my writing – words come to me while doing yoga, riding my bike, swimming.. i have to stop and find ways to capture the words before they dart away!
What's the weirdest place you ever wrote?
honestly i don't think any place is weird, necessarily - writing is like breathing and it happens all the time, everywhere.. in bed next to your sleeping lover, in the car, in the bathroom! i CAN tell you a strange place some words of mine ended up - stuck in the form of a poetry sticker (from my compass project http://tinyurl.com/compassproject), on a bulldozer!
What's the weirdest thing you ever wrote on?
this immediately makes me think of writing all over everything with sharpie. the world is my notebook! just the other day i wrote on a broken lamppost.
What comes easy to you with poetry?
sometimes nothing! ha. i like that it’s a dance. it’s an entanglement. it’s mind and word and pen swirling and marveling at how they resolve. sometimes it’s a fight from beginning to end, and other times it all spills out and i don’t edit at all. it’s strange, how inspiration blesses and damns us! the process is an exhuming, an excising, a breaking open and bringing out into the light. often, it hurts.. always, it’s necessary.
What time of the day do you mostly write?
all times. words usually start flowing when i'm doing other things - i'm constantly inspired, soaking up everything.. when the muse strikes, you have to catch it - whether that means getting out of the shower to grab a pen, recording it onto your phone, scrawling it in the dark as you're falling asleep, squeezing out your notebook on a crowded train, or using WHATEVER is around to write on - receipts, napkins, etc.!
What do you do to get into your writing sessions?
my writing sessions are always organic - they just happen. sometimes it feels like just giving myself over to something greater - trusting in it, letting it take over. i'm writing all the time, whether it's journal-style entries, quick observations, poems, prose - or with sharpie all over the place. strangely, as i'm going through life, i kind of know what's going to end up in a piece - i feel that ZAP of inspiration, almost like i'm watching a movie, taking silent notes of every detail.. i'll notice some incredible expanse of sky, or the way the light hits someone's face, or the way it feels to ride my bike in the street at twilight - and i know, oh man - THAT's going to be a piece, sometime soon.. there ARE times when i sit down and say "okay, time to write" - but they're much rarer. no matter what, i do love being in some kind of environment that opens me up.. and i LOVE the feeling of pounding out words on my old underwood typewriter - everything about it just feels right.
Do you have any writing superstitions?
i used to get really hung up on the inspiration going dry, or the muse leaving me - if i was in a groove, scribbling fervently, there would always be this voice in the back of my head - when's it going to stop? how am i going to finish this? or, in times when writing was difficult for me, i would often compare myself to the writer i "used to be" - the way it once flowed, seemingly so much more easily. either that, or comparing myself to others - my peers, the greats, everyone and anyone else who had a stronger voice. what did i have to SAY? and why couldn't i put it together? there was a period towards the end of high school and into early college in which i either wasn't writing at all, or writing about the fact that i COULDN'T write. i was stabbing into the dark - and it was devastating and bewildering to me, like i was suddenly robbed of all purpose.. looking back, now i know - i was just holding on too tight, stifling myself. how often we get in our own way..
How do you deal with your writing superstitions?
it took some time of existing in those fears, pushing through them, beginning to share my work again, and peeling back my own anxieties, expectations, guilt, conceptions, comparisons.. and realizing that - i am a writer. i will always be a writer. and, like with so very many things in life - i just have to LET. GO. it came out in the intro to my book, "decisions we make while we dream," when i self-published it in 2012 - "whether i write with wild abandon or through gritted teeth, this is what i do - it will always be mine." when it comes to creativity, the muse, being brave enough to expose yourself and your feelings - there has to be this intense level of trust. you have to trust yourself, you have to trust the craft, you have to trust the universe - live your life wildly and with gratitude, enjoy everything, learn from everything, FEEL everything - and your work will come. even if it's not always easy, even if you think it's awful as it hits the page, or it won't make sense to anyone but you.. keep going. keep trying. keep writing. it will all reveal itself. at the end of the day - this is the love of my life. i've been writing for as long as i can remember, and i know in my blood and bones - this is what i'll always do. this will always be HOME.
What book changed your writing forever?
"the great gatsby" is the first book that brought me to my knees. i've read it over and over since 8th grade and my god, every time i marvel at it. fitzgerald is just so skilled at what he does - the kind of sentences, images he comes up with.. timeless. and the definition of "ACHE"! aside from that first love - emerson is my all-time favorite writer. in college when we started reading his essays, i felt one of the first of many SHOCKS of resonance from the universe. he was writing about michel de montaigne and said of his writing: "cut these words, and they would bleed; they are vascular and alive." i can't remember anything hitting me so hard. from that moment on i knew THAT's what i had to devote myself to - to write in that way, to KEEP writing in that way.
What poet, dead or alive, would you like to be friends with?
my 2 "r's" - rumi, because of his ecstatic experiences of the divine, of mad love.. i feel so close to his words.
and rilke because he captures the beauty and terror of this existence - because he pretty much seems to have "channeled" the duino elegies and sonnets to orpheus from the universe, from some kind of greater power. that feeling - it's thrilling, humbling - and the kind of magic that happens with this craft, when you crack yourself open and let it all pour out.. blood, guts, divinity.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your poetry?
to remind everyone that they have a voice. that every voice is worth hearing. everyone can do this, everyone can try. that there are things we should look at again, things we should be thankful for, things we should release back out into the world in our own way. my favorite writers always help me feel like i’m not alone – they make me see so clearly the mystic beauty in everyday life. they make me look again. they make me feel familiar even when i feel out of place. i hope so much to bring that to my readers or listeners. to comfort them, to hit them hard, to do justice to these memories i can’t honor in any other way.
To purchase advance tickets to Hot House: A Summer Poetry Extravaganza, go to http://3po3trynycsummer.eventbrite.com.
Photo credit: Jay Franco (http://jayfranco.co/).