Diann Blakely
(September 1998)

 

I was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1957 and moved to Birmingham shortly thereafter, continuing to return for good chunks of each year to stay with my grandparents in that small Alabama town. I now live in south coastal Georgia near Savannah, before then living in Nashville--with frequent visits to Memphis, the parts of west Tennessee abutting the Mississippi River, and the Mississippi Delta itself--for fifteen years followed by a brief sojourn in Texas; however, the eighties had me residing in both New York and Boston, with several weeks spent in Vermont annually.  These Vermont stays continued well into the nineties, when I also began pitching a metaphoric pup tent in Sewanee, Tennessee, where I’d spent my undergraduate years.  All of which perhaps contributes to my increasing belief in form, a means of controlling the always-mobile chaos that is life itself at its best and worst.

Nevertheless, I also believe in what I’ve heard called “death by craft” and thus, if pressed, would describe myself as a “semi-formalist.”  In this unfortunate climate of encampment thinking in American poetry, I suppose my term translates into a poet who often finds herself all dressed up--or half-dressed, as the muse always is in my New Orleans, as Andrei Codescu has said of another of my spiritual homes, now in tatters--with no place to go.

But this only matters, I believe, to those who--not just obsessively, which is an adverb that can and perhaps should be applied to all poets, but narcissistically--assess their appearance in the mirror each time they leave the house, wherever that house may be.



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