Interview With Poet Hadara Bar-Nadav

I’ve been working on a interview project with Deborah at 32 Poems magazine, and she kindly allowed me to interview past contributors to the magazine. We will be posting the interviews throughout the coming months, and our ninth interview posted on Deborah’s Poetry Blog of 32 Poems on April 20. I’m going to provide you with a snippet from the interview, but if you want to read the entire interview, I’ll provide you a link for that as well. For now, let me introduce to you 32 Poems contributor, Hadara Bar-Nadav.

Published in Verse 23.1-3 (2006).

Mutiny awakens me,
the kingdom buzzing with saws,
all the fetishes abloom

which means a rubbing away until
blood or speech, each
to his own bright unraveling.

Red lives here, a nest
of nerves and twigs.
Doors unhinge and the roof

speckled with stars:
holes, navels, scars.

I have no floor,
no caviar, no mints.

I am humble as a tooth
and hunger.

And you are the messenger
without bell or tongue.

You are the messenger.

Come. Come.

1. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any “writing” books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

Books of poetry and art have been my best teachers, along with studying music. Jazz was my first teacher, I believe. Though I had written poetry since I was a child, it was when I was a teenager and started listening to jazz that I really started to study language, to think about its rhythms and sounds, and to wonder what I could do with language, how far I could push it.

I didn’t have an active writing community until I went to graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Now that I live in Kansas City, I meet informally with a few poets and we discuss each other’s work. I also email poems to friends for feedback, if needed.

As for books on craft, I like Tony Hoagland’s Real Sofistikashun, which I use in my poetry workshops. Hoagland is smart, has a sense of humor, and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

2. When writing poetry, prose, essays, and other works do you listen to music, do you have a particular playlist for each genre you work in or does the playlist stay the same? What are the top 5 songs on that playlist? If you don’t listen to music while writing, do you have any other routines or habits?

Generally, I don’t listen to music when I read or write. It’s too distracting. However, PJ Harvey, Beck, and the soundtrack to The Royal Tennenbaums have all figured into my manuscripts. The rise and fall and various intensities of PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire helped me come up with the final configuration of my first book, A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight.

3. Do you have any favorite foods or foods that you find keep you inspired? What are the ways in which you pump yourself up to keep writing and overcome writer’s block?

Chocolate. And Jersey pizza, bagels, and cannolis, which I miss now that I live in the Midwest.

As far as keeping myself pumped up, when I’m not writing, I revise. When I’m not revising, I send out. Or I read, or go to a museum, or get art books from the library. I’m not sure chocolate helps me do any of these things, but I like it. A lot.

About the Poet:

Hadara Bar-Nadav’s book of poetry A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight (Margie/Intuit House, 2007) won the Margie Book Prize. Recent publications appear or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, Verse, and other journals. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Of Israeli and Czechoslovakian descent, she currently lives in Kansas City with her husband Scott George Beattie, a furniture maker and visual artist.

Want to find out what Hadara’s writing space looks like? Find out what she’s working on now, her obsessions, and much more. Check out the rest of my interview with Hadara here. Please feel free to comment on the 32 Poems blog and Savvy Verse & Wit.