Below is the unedited interview with poet Carrie Anne White followed by her poem "Questions Addressed to Love".
Carrie Anne is finishing her senior year at Cannon School in Concord, NC. She will be heading to Colorado College in the fall.
Piedmont Poetry Project: What do you hope to achieve with your poetry?
Carrie Anne White: I write poetry mainly for myself, so I think the most rewarding accomplishment would be to keep writing.
PPP: What are your earliest recollections of poetry in your life?
CAW: I read rhyming children's books as a kid, and wrote my first "book" of poems in the third grade. Before I learned how to write, I made up and memorized lyrics to my own songs, so I imagine this fed into my need to write poetry.
PPP: Why, in your opinion, is poetry important in our society?
CAW: Poetry is the organized chaos we need in order to make sense of the generalizations and logical perspective that we have to have in business aspects of life. Poetry is the hard-edged, fun, raw, emotional, aesthetic, and melodic side of writing--and an outlet for disorganized expression. Without it, I know I'd have a hard time making sense of things.
PPP: What inspires you to write?
CAW: I'm most inspired by novelty in any form: new people, new tragedies, new perspectives, new challenges, and new places. Anything that strikes me as unfamiliar is fuel for poetry. It's how I decode the unknown.
PPP: When do you write?
CAW: I write when I'm alone at night, or if I have free time during the day and something especially inspiring comes to mind.
PPP: Is there a particular place that you like to write?
CAW: The most inspiring place I've ever written at was at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Massachusetts, where I spent three weeks dedicated to learning and practicing writing. I had the opportunity to write outside with my elbows in the grass on a hillside with near eighty other young writers. It was a really enriching experience to write in the presence of other students who are as passionate as I am about writing. As for now, I most enjoy writing by an open window.
PPP: What poets do you read?
CAW: I have a soft spot for Shel Silverstein. (I've passed that on to my baby sister; I buy her a Silverstein book every year and read to her from it.)
PPP: What advice do you have for others who might want to get started writing poetry?
CAW: Don't wait to start, just do it. The best advice I've ever had was to write about whatever I knew best. If writing on an unfamiliar topic scares you, try different genres or subjects of poetry until you find one that lets your ideas percolate.
PPP: Have you noticed any trends or patterns in your writing over the past 5-10 years?
CAW: I have always written in a sharp, almost cold way. My writing style has evolved to have a taste for dark edginess, unusual wording, and the occasional rhyme. I love short poems, partially because others will be more likely to read them, but mostly because they're challenging. It's difficult to sum up the ideas withing a poem in just 10 to 14 lines.
PPP: Share a comment or two about life, being a senior, nature, toasters, writing, or anything else that you'd like:
CAW: I've noticed that we remember small bursts of life rather than entire days. The more variety we put into our day, the more bursts of life we will be able to savor on a nostalgic afternoon later in life. I've been trying to keep this in mind as I push through these final days in high school. I'm realizing that I won't remember the thousands of facts I've put on flashcards, but I'll remember the spontaneous afternoons I spent with friends or family trying new things apart from my routine.
Questions Addressed to Love
I asked her who she was.
She showed me the clouds--
Molecules clumping and morphing,
Turning and running off the endless page of sky.
I asked her where she’s been.
She pointed to the silhouette above,
The raging mass of black wings,
Silently changing directions.
I asked her what she wanted.
Just then, her iris fogged, revealing
A lighter shade of blue.
She blinked and the vibrancy returned.
I asked her where she was going.
She took me to an empty room.
She sat with me by a stained mirror.
She sang to me and let the echo
She never really told me,
But it reminded me of a cliff dive.
A warm wetness on the tongue.
Absent-tasting, and it stung.
-- by Carrie Anne White