By: Olivia Loccisano
through gnome’s eyes
The first time you called me beautiful
I rubbed my skin with pepper
I wore pink all my life;
the colour that is not taken seriously.
Why do you look at me now
Do you know that fairies bleed
pearls made of baby skin?
At my chest, like a wandering beast,
when one year ago, we were playmates,
running breathlessly through the forest.
When you tried to place your lips on mine,
I realized I
was your object of desire,
no longer wanting
to roam the forest with you.
Ode to Awe
Oh, feeble wonderment
As a child you were so bright,
Now beneath the frozen ocean
You lie as a snake
You have been scaled and skinned
Without zest or crevices of imagination
Stiff and cold
Now an amphibian laying
At the bottom of the sea
I will see anything with the same eyes
in the depths of the wet rocks
you held my hands: clammy and white
wrinkles from the sweat like coral
why, you wondered, was I so nervous
you told me it would be alright
we swam awkwardly in one ball
with no fire or sensuality
awkward and ugly
on the goose pimpled sand
running away thinking innocence was lost
but it was really just beginning
Olivia Loccisano is a writer and filmmaker from Toronto, Canada. Her work centers around transformations of the body, specifically through dark fantasy, horror and magical realism. Through storytelling, she explores how young women and children navigate strange realms of life through their own imagination and rituals.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child. I would always be writing stories and poetry for as long as I can remember. Over the last few years, I have been more serious about it and have found my voice. I love the freedom the medium of poetry offers, and how it provides the chance to be more surreal in its style.
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe and ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ by Lewis Carroll from his book Through the Looking-Glass.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
I love Lucille Clifton and Emily Dickinson. Specific poems would be Lucille Clifton’s ‘homage to my hips’ and Emily Dickinson’s ‘I Felt a Funeral in my Brain’. I love gothic poetry and anything that explores themes of the body in a dark, and sometimes gruesome, way. Both Dickinson and Clifton have this style of taking feminine ideals of the body and turning them on their head, making them raw and ugly. I also love the mystic childhood riddles from the I Spy books from the 90’s (Jean Marzollo, photographs by Walter Wick). I am mostly inspired by visuals, and filmmaker Julia Ducournau (filmmaker, Titane) is a visual poet who really inspires me with the way she explores the female body and its bizarre transformations.
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
My writing process starts long before I start to put anything on paper. Since my poetry explores abjection, I like to reminisce about the body since our memories are stored there. Our feelings are present in the body before we start to deconstruct them mentally or emotionally. Once I put my words and ideas on paper, I get into the psychology of the speaker. The speaker of my poems is usually reciting through streams of consciousness. From there, the rest seems to come naturally, before the editing process.
How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
Since I write body horror poetry, I like to use free form. The poem comes organically, as do the functions of the body. I want the form to sync with the theme as well as sometimes having a nursery rhyme structure with a horror twist.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
Tap into your fears, and don’t be afraid to write about taboo ideas and concepts.
What is your editing process like?
I usually go line by line to determine the physical shape of the poem. This is a big part of my editing process because I want the physical form of the poem to match the style or relate to it in some way. I change words and think of different ideas as I edit. I let the poem sit and come back to it in a few hours. Then I make changes and let it marinate. I come back to the poem in a few hours, then days, making sure the subtext is present. But I think the most important part for me is letting the poem sit and coming back to it with fresh eyes.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
Like my writing process, this is also a visceral feeling. After I do my editing, I can feel when it has finished. I don’t have any type of recipe or calculation to know it isn’t finished. Essentially I know the poem is complete when it plays like a shocking movie in my head.