One misconception people have about poetry is that it is written in “code,” one they aren’t smart enough to understand. In fact, if you do not comprehend a poem, you may return it. Send a SASE and copy of the defective poem to:
1402 Innovation Park
Battle Creek, MI 49014
You should receive a new poem in six to eights weeks. The old poem will be delivered by barge to a South American landfill.
I’ve been writing about ‘real’ characters and placing them in a shaped, or fictional, world. Writing TransAtlantic, there was never really a plan, at the early stages, to question the line between fiction and nonfiction. I just went on instinct, and then these worlds started to braid.
Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends. Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.
The first step in containing the potential for trauma is safety. The second is to welcome the injured and fearful, the grief-stricken and the shocked back into the fold. This is animal logic—trauma research has found that prey animals, upon escape, need to rejoin the group and discharge their nervous energy, the stress hormones that kept them alive.
For me, part of that exploration involved questioning what we mean when we use terms like “evil” and “crime.” Defining either can be a murky task, but is especially so in wartime. I think, for instance, that it’s dangerous to use a blanket label like “evil” when thinking about an enemy—even in as egregious an example as the Nazis. In doing so, you risk distancing yourself to the point of losing sight of the potential universality of what happened in Germany.…In my opinion, what’s truly important to remember is just how easily—even casually—that evil occurred. And that it can occur again any time, in any nation (ours included), and at the hands of people who in all other respects are just like the rest of us.
The Rumpus Interview With Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Sometimes contemporary culture, Internet culture particularly, seems like a kind of Mexican standoff of weaponized irony.