Lauren Levin and Sara Larsen interviewed each other about their respective books, THE BRAID and MERRY HELL, in early April via Google chat. These two Bay Area poets draw on a decade of friendship and artistic cross-pollination to discuss feminist rage, genre fuckery, and the mantras of survival.
THE BRAID is a fever dream of pregnancy and early parenting in the era of the police state: a love poem shot through with ambivalence, a sustained fuck–you to Ronald Reagan and his legacy, and a moment of feminist possibility on the far side of collapse. In MERRY HELL, Helen of Troy rejects empire and exposes the “misogynist spell” of the narrative that condemns her for the horrors of the Trojan War. Helen’s story is interwoven with circumstances surrounding the Pétroleuse, or women incendiaries, of the 1871 Paris Commune as well as our current moment’s calamities and possibilities. Both books are available at Small Press Distribution.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Sara Larsen: So, my dear friend, my heart was just bursting with your book! I was really struck by the form of The Braid and especially loved that the first line of the book starts in media res: “And then Lindsey and I talk about vulnerability and what it means”… as if we are already there with you and Lindsey.
Can you say more about the title and how it might relate to your process in writing the book? Also, did you conceive of it as a book ahead of time, or did you just begin?
Lauren Levin: The title feels related to the way I think: very associative. And the process of the book was bringing strands of different content (maternal, political) together. Which is a kind of braiding. And also trying to pull things apart. For instance, pulling apart the anxieties of parenting and thinking about them as related to political or collective anxiety. So it felt like an in-and-out motion, a kind of weave.