Bio & Response

Laurel Snyder

Laurel Snyder has recently published poetry in Post Road, Gulf Coast and Painted Bride Quarterly. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and last year she was awarded a Paul Engle Fellowship. She has completed one children's novel and maintains the website

Question #1: In DR #2 Johannes Göransson makes the observation regarding Russell Edson that, "Sometimes, when I've read his poems I start to write like him too. It's infectious." Whose poems get under your skin in this way? Whose poems should get under more people's skin? Also, how does the pp/ff form contribute to or enable what Göransson calls 'infectious'?

I tend to get "infected" in a few different ways. And in reaction to very different kinds of reading.

Sometimes, when I read the poets who feel like home to me (Berryman, James Wright, Simic, Salamun), when I return to the work that I know best, that work haunts me. It's totally subconscious, but I'll be working on a poem and realize that I've almost stolen a line, or
imitated precise syntax or something.

In a different way, new poetry can push me to a conscious "infection."
I'll read someone I've never read, like Matthea Harvey, and I'll think,
" Could I do that?" And then once I've tried it, I can't shake it from my
work. Usually at that point I have to stop writing for awhile, or work
on nonfiction or a kid's book or something.

But with prose poetry and flash fiction, I think I allow myself more
leeway. I read a lot of books for children, and a lot of religious
writing and fable. PP/FF is the place where my prose for kids bumps up
against my poetry, and I think I sometimes recognize that I'm taking
liberties, borrowing a line, or a voice, or a literary tic, and I decide
it's okay.

Because in the same sense that I'll steal biblical language for a poem,
or I'll use a line of poetry as the jumping-off point for a picture
book, prose poems and flash fiction both feel far away from anything
else I read. So if I suffer from an "infection," it seems okay. To me,
the process of crossing genres... changes the lens enough that the
infection feels really productive. It changes the slant, the
assumptions, the way the work is read.