Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Caitlin Neely

Today’s brief Q&A is with Caitlin Neely, a contributor to two issues of Sugared Water. She published three poems with us including “Grace Hour,” “This is Use,” and “The Interior Part.” (She later joined our staff as an editorial assistant.)

Caitlin Neely will be an MFA poetry candidate at the University of Virginia in the fall. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University where she was the editor for Loch Norse Magazine. She is an editorial assistant for Sugared Water and a first year blogger for The MFA Years.

a little taste of “Grace Hour” (in our inaugural issue):

I tell landscape like it is.
A deer’s gray coat—dull lantern dusk,
the hills—knot of honeysuckles.

I turn it inside out. I sharpen the edge.

and “The Interior Part” from our second issue:

I take a spot on the sofa, watch the squirrel
in the backyard, the tire swing.

Is waiting dangerous?

The woods crack; March scatters.
Mayflies hang on buds.

Noon time shower,
boom of the weather man’s voice.

(A holler in a holler.)
(The small sin of wanting.)

I wake, scrape the winter off;
my body looser than it’s been in years.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CN: Right now I’m reading Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire and Middlemarch.

SW: What are you working on now?
CN: I’m working on revising poetry I wrote for my capstone last year. I’m also writing new stuff that’s focused on the body and, of course, nature too. No matter how hard I try I can’t get away from nature imagery.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CN: Mary Ann Samyn is definitely the poet who’s inspired me the most. Also Beth Bachmann, Nathaniel Perry, Sylvia Plath, Kelly Moffett, Ida Stewart, and Brenda Hillman.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CN: Everywhere! Language is my main inspiration so words I pick up from books, television, conversations, etc. are normally the starting off point/inspiration for my poems.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CN: I try to remain as “in the moment” as possible during a rough draft. I don’t like over-thinking lines or deciding where I’m going to go next before going there. A lot of my process comes from what I’ve learned taking improv classes. Once I’m revising I’ll work through the title, the language, the line endings, the emotional narrative, and anything else that needs clarifying. I rarely keep copies of the revisions I make for a poem. I like to “forget” where I’ve come from (in regard to the words, not the emotion behind them) unless I’m really having trouble choosing between two different versions of a line or phrase.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CN: I’m very obsessed with baseball right now. I’m also obsessed with dance and ballet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Center Stage and First Position. I danced for a good part of my childhood. It’s something I’ve kept close to me even after I quit.

Caitlin Neely | Blog | @caitlinneely | in issues SW#001 & SW#002