A rebel against all corrupt gods,
yet like all submissives, she
is the one who can change the balance of power?"
This highlights two contrapuntal themes in your book: expansiveness that keeps testing limits (expansiveness encapsulated in ideas like a "parallel universe," "string theory," "quantum mechanics") and a proclivity for wanting to be held, "enslaved" even, "owned," utterly known and possessed. Is this a modern female thing or is it your thing? I don't think anyone would describe this as a "masculine" trait, but we've become so very sensitive about ascribing traits to gender" I confess to being a little perplexed about how to approach this.
I like the flow of language here because the words are straightforward, but suggestive of deeper mysteries. I think the best of your work does that. And, as I've said, this book can be quite personal--about your childhood diffidence, sense of abandonment by your "sailor-father," loneliness growing up on the edge of a California orange grove, in a shack of a farmhouse dominated by two lonely women; and then some difficult adult relationships, etc. Coleridge defined poetry as the "reconcilement of opposites." I wonder to what degree you are consciously working with opposites and striving towards "reconcilement"? Could one have a "rousing discussion" with oneself" and bottle the genie of poetry from that?
DW: I am always working with opposites, working towards their reconcilement.
I think if I were you--or any great conversationalist--I could have a "rousing discussion" with myself. However, as Diane, I am usually silent, tongue- tied, or a speaker of platitudes. I am busy in poetry trying to choose my words so that they include everything. I think that poetry should be more than just a conversation with oneself, no matter how rousing. That's probably what our dreams are.
Art? Maybe art is that Zen idea of one hand clapping. I think art is a way of reaching out--to have a dialogue, discussion, conversation with the reader--who, for better or worse, can never be simply a mirror image of the poet. The reader has to want to respond. By the moment of transformation at the end of a poem, a reader should grasp that the poet is different from what he first thought. Therefore, with the genie out of the bottle, there's a new wholeness. How can the reader not identify with that? But, it's not a mirror-image of poet-reader. It is, rather, Cocteau's poet bursting through the mirror--bloodless--to the place of imagination, taking the reader with him.
GC: My favorite poem from the first half of your fairly long collection is "'The Spiral Staircase': Apples vs. Oranges." Much of Angels is about a gamble, a noir image in shadow; an imagined lover, re-imagined lovers; a merging of celluloid and the scent of gardenias. This flitting between shadows is actually more effective because in certain poems there is a pause, as herein, and we can catch the real figure--toying, flirting, elusive, allusive, frightened, daring. Film noir has particular appeal to you, and is used metaphorically--as in "Some Beauty Needs a Dimness" ("the alchemical chisel of black and white")-- because its stark contrasts actually sharpen, define and clarify.
The mystery revealed in "The Spiral Staircase"," the unfolding, takes the form of a daily eaten orange plucked from a grove next to your childhood home. The surprise here is that the mythic world, symbolized by the literary "golden apples of Hesperides" is too vulnerable to smudge-pot soot, harsh rays of California sun", but the real, globed fruit of orange is protected by a sturdy rind, and the fruit "held destiny" for "this little sorceress" poet, this "little witch-child" who learns to conjure from her life experiences.
Many of the poems in Angels are wholly or partly meditations on poetry--the evolution and development of the poet. You train an unrelenting eye on yourself, mistakes made along the way, while reflecting, with a sense of wonder, on how you got to be 75, with a successful career as a writer and teacher:
"Had I been less superficial,
I'd have cleaved to the man with the hands
I never found handsome."
"While the others tour ancient churches,