The Conversant republishes excerpts from HER KIND, a digital literary community powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. An earlier version of this present conversation can be found here.
HER KIND: In her poem “Summer X-Rays,” Nina Cassian tells us: “That’s why I swim so far out, / willing prisoner / inside the sea’s immense green magnifying glass.” What draws you to the water? How far are you willing to swim and why?
Amina Cain: My mother tells me that when I was two years old, she couldn’t keep me from the water. She would set me down on the beach and before she knew it, I was in the waves trying to go further than a two-year-old should. I had very few fears as a child, and I loved the water, as many children do. I love it still. I am always trying to decide which I like best—ocean, river, or lake—but I can’t. The ocean is immense, yes, but you can float down a river for a very long time, and in a cold climate a lake’s waves freeze in winter. Today, on the first day of summer, I think I would choose to swim in a river. The Yuba, in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Conversant republishes excerpts from HER KIND, a digital literary community powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. An earlier version of this present conversation can be foundhere.
HER KIND: Thank you Dara and Gillian for being a part of the Conversation! We love having your voices here, your metaphorical frames of mind. Let’s begin: Gloria Anzaldúa asks in the foreword to the second edition of This Bridge Called My Back: ¿Qué hacer de aquí y cómo? (What to do from here and how?). As a woman and writer, what are the bridges you’ve had to cross, burn, and forge? What came of those experiences?
Dara Wier: What to do from here and how it sounds like a good title for something. I’m really happy to be having this chance to converse in writing with Gillian, and I’m glad we’ve been given bridges as our jumping off place. A bridge is an awesome accomplishment—a verb, a noun, a conjunction, a preposition, a thing, a metaphor, a marvel of agency and desire (or necessity). There have been plank bridges across ditches in my life, highway bridges over canals, bridges over the Mississippi at New Orleans (the funny sign on one that says huba huba), draw bridges. I love bridges. The thrill of contemplating and then possibly crossing a bridge is galvanizing.
Gillian Conoley: Hi Dara, so nice to be talking. Portals to possibility are bridges, like the chance to talk to you in writing. I love that Gloria Anzaldúa puts the bridge in the body. She’s over on the other side, rest her soul, but she left the bridge. The spine: pliable, capable. A suspension bridge. I live 12 miles from the Golden Gate, 75 years old last month. The cables that sweep tower to tower on it literally stretched and stretching.