Kallie Falandays is the author of Dovetail Down the House, forthcoming from Burnside Review Press, and All the Water All the Waves (dancing girl press). You can read more of her work in Puerto del Sol, The Journal, Black Warrior Review, CutBank, and elsewhere. She lives in Philadelphia, where she runs Tell Tell Poetry. Her poem "[Someone dreams about comics]" is featured in the Fall 2016 Premium Edition of Carve. Preorder or subscribe by Sunday, October 23, for special savings and discounts.
We are so pleased to have this unique and well-crafted poem in the premium issue of Carve. What made you decide to leave the poem untitled?
Thanks so much! It’s an honor to be in Carve. As far as the untitled works, this poem is part of a larger collection called Dovetail Down the House, which is coming out in the fall from Burnside Review Press. The collection emerged out of a conversational space, and poem titles would have created too much hesitation between the poems — I wanted to eliminate hesitation so it reflected the way a real conversation occurs.
It strikes me that the first and last lines are fitting to bracket and summarize the entire poem. This technique provides a very satisfying closing. During the writing process, were those lines ever a couplet?
Actually, the poem was written in this form, though I’m happy that you think the close is satisfying. It’s one of the rare poems that sort of came out the way it ended up — there was, of course, some tweaking involved, but the form remained pretty much the same throughout the process.
The striking images of the poem truly provide the emotional center of the verse, while supporting the metaphor. Do you consider yourself an imagist?
I’m not traditionally an imagist because not all my poems use the most precise language, and sometimes I just throw the image out entirely; sometimes I don’t need an image, though I do believe in the power of the image, and I think an immense amount of blossoming can occur between two images, which can’t always happen with two ideas or two lines or two rhythms the way it can with images. I would love to be purely an imagist, though I think my penchant for lyricism prevents that a little bit.
The “not” in poems often provides strong opposition, and when provided in a list as you have done in lines 10-11, really layers the work while allowing concision. Did you feel the “not” was more accessible as a writer than the expected “like” and “as” simile?
That’s interesting, though I generally don’t think about accessibility when I write. The “not” is a metaphorical tool that sort of encapsulates what the whole poem is about, so I feel like a simile would have been out of place for the poem. I also wonder whether similes are more accessible than metaphors. Are they? I think they both mess with distance a bit — the metaphor eliminates it, and the simile creates a sort of path toward the thing you’re exploring, but I don’t think one is more accessible than the other necessarily. I sort of like looking at it through this lens now — shifting it for a simile changes it entirely, and it becomes quite frightening and I don’t think I really like or enjoy it, but it’s a fun activity to do.
It’s fascinating that the indefinite pronoun becomes a she and returns to an indefinite pronoun later. This causes a POV leap for the reader. Can you speak to that?
I’ll respond in the only way I can, with a conversation I overheard the other day:
Daughter: Mom, you brainwashed me.
Mom: No, I didn’t. I knew exactly what I was doing.