Geoffrey Chaucer and Charmi Keranen

A few days ago, I posted a poem from Charmi Keranen from her book The Afterlife is a Dry County.  Today I get to talk with her and pick her brain a bit.  I love getting to meet and talk with other writers.  Everyone’s writing process is different, and I’ve gotten some interesting ideas from other writers based on how they do things.  I especially like to ask them who they are reading.  If you’re a writer, but you don’t read anything beyond the shampoo bottle while you’re sitting on the porcelain throne, you’re doing it wrong.  Even reading <shudder> Twilight is better than reading nothing at all.  I just hope if you do read Twilight, you read it as an instruction on how not to write.  I don’t get to meet Cynthia Cruz, though.  This makes me very sad.

In other news, I’ve been memorizing the first 18 lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.  In Middle English.  Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with Middle Earth.  This, too, makes me very sad.  I’ve read the Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale so far.  I’m looking forward to the Wife of Bath’s Tale.  That’s one of my favorites.

The Afterlife is a Dry County

Among the many things I’m reading is The Afterlife is a Dry County by Charmi Keranen.  To be honest, she hasn’t connected with me yet.  I don’t know if it’s because she had the misfortune to be read alongside Cynthia Cruz, or if it’s simply a matter of needing to read her more.  Probably the latter.  The title poem, however, is one that’s beginning to grow on me.

The Afterlife is a Dry County

He refuses to call them


Stair-step cracks, cold in

the grasp, stippling.

The vertebrae


whatever alludes

a prescient motion.

I watched a woman with the

mind of a bison light up a foyer.

This is my fault, isn’t it.

The deep wet felt,

the undertow.


Two things strike me about this piece.  The first is the line “This is my fault, isn’t it.”  The second is “a woman with the mind of a bison.”  There’s something very cool about that phrase.  It’s almost a primal thing.  It’s not something I have ever considered doing in my own work, but it’s intriguing.  I’ll have to play with that sometime and see what happens.