Note: Nikki Wallschlaeger is the author of two full-length books of poetry: Houses (Horse Less Press, 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof Books, 2017). Wallschlaeger lives in Wisconsin where she collects and propagates violets. She is a mother; she is a poet; she is at once tender, at once piercing. This interview took place in September 2017 shortly before Wallschlaeger arrived in Philadelphia to read at Philalalia, a small press and book arts festival hosted by Temple University.
The commonplace that the disorientations and ruptures of contemporary life require an equally disjunctive poetics has led many poets writing today to court the non sequitur as determinedly as a debater might avoid it. In traditional logic and rhetoric, a non sequitur — Latin for “it does not follow” — is a mistake, a fallacy, an inference that does not follow from the premises or evidence.
The poems in Lyn Hejinian’s The Unfollowing are to the sonnet what the prose poem is to verse. They are fourteen lines long and, more importantly, poems of love and loss. In the press materials, Omnidawn publisher Rusty Morrison tells us that the poems are “a sequence of elegies” although “they are not sonnets but antisonnets.”
Part 1: To close the streaming eye
All is black shadow, but the lucid line Marked by the light surf on the level sand, Or where afar the ship-lights faintly shine Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land Mislead the pilgrim — such the dubious ray That wavering reason lends, in life’s long darkling way. — Charlotte Smith, “Written Near a Port on a Dark Evening”