To Be Home in Our Desires: A Conversation with Darren C. Demaree ✺

Darren C. Demaree & Ruoyu Wang

Interviews

To Be Home in Our Desires: A Conversation with Darren C. Demaree ✺

Ruoyu: Darren, when I first read this poem, I was immediately struck by the dynamism of the title. It focuses on a singular Emily, while the poem itself longs for another “three / that refuse to wear / more than the sheer wind.” Hometowns are such a sentimental place, and in this poem, it seems to allow a multiplicity to Emily that the speaker would otherwise not have considered. After all, “all the song can do / is frame winter…Ohio / is their fantasy.” What is it about these places, ones where we return and revisit past selves, that draw out possibility? In what ways can return liberate a person into true desire? What are we trying to reach?


Darren: I think the confluence of memory and feeling and seasons all play into how we choose what we want, how we experience something like live music, and how we interpret what a home can be. Are we home in a place? Are we home in our desires? Is the searching what gives us glory? Past selves show up all the time, and I think there's liberation in acknowledging them and incorporating or ignoring them into the moment depending on what the moment is giving us.



Ruoyu: Whether this is the subversion or acceptance of them, the speaker is undeniably investing in the power dynamics of sight and anticipated feeling. The contrast of heat and cold in this poem perhaps appeals to the reader’s sensory experience as well: a pressure that manifests as both anxiety and adrenaline. When exploring tenser topics, how do you decide where to end the piece to still implicate the reader in finishing the thought? At what place does it still feel true to the voice and hold close expressions of intensity?


Darren: Manipulating the music and energy of the poem can take you and the reader to lots of places. Sometimes a poem charges down the pages, and the reader has to hold on for dear life. Sometimes you allow the energy and the images to meander and mingle and present an experience that leads them to an unexpected place. Making those choices as you're looking for entry and exit points is hard, but it's fun to experiment with. In this poem, I wanted it to to work into a rhythm. I wanted the start and stop of the short lines to make the entry choppy, but for the flourish to feel more natural by the end.



Ruoyu: What are 1-3 pieces of bodies of art—this could be anything from other poems to TV show scripts, —that have been deeply formative in creating the spaces your work exists in? In what way are they in conversation with each other (if at all)?


Darren: The band Explosions in the Sky. The works on art (Beauty, Ugliness, Lists, and Legendary Lands) that Umberto Eco edited. I come back to both of the music and essays connected with these all the time.




Ruoyu: If you could craft your dream undergraduate or graduate-level course in writing, what would it be centered on? What intersections, emotions, impulses, desires drive you to discover new revelations each time? Whose voices would you include in the curriculum?


Darren: I think the most important course for young writers to take is an entire syllabus of translated works. Spending real time with a language that's been worked on in this way is incredibly educational. Not just being exposed to new or different stories, but to the manipulation of language and the chorus that can be created in work like this. It can catch you off balance or help you find your balance in the most vital of ways. ✺

Read the piece here.


Darren C. Demaree

Darren C. Demaree is the author of twenty-one poetry collections, most recently “in defense of the goat that continues to wander towards the certain doom of the cliff”, (forthcoming from April Gloaming, February 2024).  He is the recipient of a Greater Columbus Arts Council Grant, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Best of the Net Anthology and the Managing Editor of Ovenbird Poetry.  He is currently working in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system.


Twitter: @d_c_demaree

Instagram: darrencdemaree


Ruoyu Wang | Interviewer

Ruoyu Wang (王若雨) is based in Washington state, where they enjoy cold walks. An Adroit Prizes commended winner in poetry, their work appears in The Shore, Sine Theta, COUNTERCLOCK, and elsewhere. Find them at their website.

Published

Feb 19, 2024

To Be Home in Our Desires: A Conversation with Darren C. Demaree ✺

Darren C. Demaree & Ruoyu Wang

Interviews

Ruoyu: Darren, when I first read this poem, I was immediately struck by the dynamism of the title. It focuses on a singular Emily, while the poem itself longs for another “three / that refuse to wear / more than the sheer wind.” Hometowns are such a sentimental place, and in this poem, it seems to allow a multiplicity to Emily that the speaker would otherwise not have considered. After all, “all the song can do / is frame winter…Ohio / is their fantasy.” What is it about these places, ones where we return and revisit past selves, that draw out possibility? In what ways can return liberate a person into true desire? What are we trying to reach?


Darren: I think the confluence of memory and feeling and seasons all play into how we choose what we want, how we experience something like live music, and how we interpret what a home can be. Are we home in a place? Are we home in our desires? Is the searching what gives us glory? Past selves show up all the time, and I think there's liberation in acknowledging them and incorporating or ignoring them into the moment depending on what the moment is giving us.



Ruoyu: Whether this is the subversion or acceptance of them, the speaker is undeniably investing in the power dynamics of sight and anticipated feeling. The contrast of heat and cold in this poem perhaps appeals to the reader’s sensory experience as well: a pressure that manifests as both anxiety and adrenaline. When exploring tenser topics, how do you decide where to end the piece to still implicate the reader in finishing the thought? At what place does it still feel true to the voice and hold close expressions of intensity?


Darren: Manipulating the music and energy of the poem can take you and the reader to lots of places. Sometimes a poem charges down the pages, and the reader has to hold on for dear life. Sometimes you allow the energy and the images to meander and mingle and present an experience that leads them to an unexpected place. Making those choices as you're looking for entry and exit points is hard, but it's fun to experiment with. In this poem, I wanted it to to work into a rhythm. I wanted the start and stop of the short lines to make the entry choppy, but for the flourish to feel more natural by the end.



Ruoyu: What are 1-3 pieces of bodies of art—this could be anything from other poems to TV show scripts, —that have been deeply formative in creating the spaces your work exists in? In what way are they in conversation with each other (if at all)?


Darren: The band Explosions in the Sky. The works on art (Beauty, Ugliness, Lists, and Legendary Lands) that Umberto Eco edited. I come back to both of the music and essays connected with these all the time.




Ruoyu: If you could craft your dream undergraduate or graduate-level course in writing, what would it be centered on? What intersections, emotions, impulses, desires drive you to discover new revelations each time? Whose voices would you include in the curriculum?


Darren: I think the most important course for young writers to take is an entire syllabus of translated works. Spending real time with a language that's been worked on in this way is incredibly educational. Not just being exposed to new or different stories, but to the manipulation of language and the chorus that can be created in work like this. It can catch you off balance or help you find your balance in the most vital of ways. ✺