Use the Narrow Edge

by E. Kristin Anderson

Microsoft Word - E__Kristin_Anderson-Use_the_Narrow_Edge.docx

E. Kristin Anderson is a Pushcart-nominated poet and author who grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Kristin is the co-editor of Dear Teen Me, an anthology based on the popular website. Her poetry has been published worldwide in many magazines and anthologies and she is the author of four chapbooks: A Jab of Deep Urgency (Finishing Line Press) and A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks) Pray Pray Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (forthcoming from Porkbelly Press), and Acoustic Battery Life (forthcoming from ELJ Publications). She is an online editor at Hunger Mountain and a contributing editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker. She now lives in Austin, TX where she is currently working on a full-length collection of erasure poems from women’s and teen magazines. She blogs at EKristinAnderson.com.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Use the Narrow Edge”?

    This poem came about in a more calculated way than the manner in which I usually approach poetry. I’ve been writing a full-length manuscript of erasure poems using women’s and teen magazines, including the magazine Seventeen, which, of course, I read as a teen. The magazines were piling up faster than I could erase them, and I had a middle-of-the-night idea, which I emailed to myself: Write a chapbook of poems using Seventeen magazine in which each poem has seventeen lines. Somehow this evolved into “what if I wrote these poems using formal structure” which evolved into “let’s screw with pantoums.” So I took a break from the manuscript and wrote a bunch of broken pantoums. Which resulted in a chapbook (now on submission) called 17 seventeen XVII that compiles (yes, seventeen) found pantoums. “Use the Narrow Edge” is one of them. And I have to say, the joy and the challenge of hunting down lines for this poem, and the others and the series, is one that I don’t want to end. Who knows — maybe you’ll run into me in ten years and I’ll still be making 17-line pantoums from articles about manicures in Seventeen magazine.
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