Kristin Garth

kristin garthIs there one subject you feel you return to in your writing?
Power imbalances, I think that theme follows through in a lot of my poetry whether it be gender issues, sexuality, abuse, true crime, even my horror sonnets.  That’s a theme that I feel I have a lot to speak about it.  Whether it’s a sonnet about my own experiences or a fictional character, I understand this dynamic, I believe, pretty well, and I revisit it often.

Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of? What is Dead, When You Are Drowning In a Car and Girl With A Pen and also this: Slender Secrets and Lafave

How do you feel about traditional poems and free verse? Which do you feel fits the present time? Can the coincide within one poem?
I think people assume because I write 99 percent Shakespearean sonnets and almost entirely formal poetry that that is the poetry I prefer to read.  My favorite poem of all time is a poem called How to Like It by Stephen Dobyns.  It is free verse and simple beautiful language.  I personally crave a cage of form for my often feral thoughts – it gives me a frame that forces me to be bold, quick, unflinching about what I want to say.  To be freer with my content by not concentrating on a form as I have sort of internalized it.  Sonnets are my medium of expression in creation, but I love reading all forms and free verse.  I just love words and language and emotion, and I think there’s room for everything including hybrid forms.

This poem almost has a cyclic feel to it that suggests a sense of urgency, but also dreaminess. Were there any parts you enjoyed writing the most?
I loved writing this poem.  It was very cathartic to me because the initial image came from a compliment that someone said to me recently that was “girl, you’re on fire.”  It hit me in a funny way, one, because my brain is just like that, and, two, I thought – where there is fire, there once was a stake.  A lot of my poem comes from incredibly painful personal experiences, and I own that.  I think writing about pain is very healing – I hope for an audience, but I know for myself.

Then as I started writing, I became really focused on the idea of being set apart and marked for destruction by a community for your difference, uniqueness.  I think as writers we all succeed when we find that unique voice inside of us.  And I think sometimes when people see us succeeding at expressing this uniqueness, it’s such a celebration, as it should be, but all of that came from some years spent on a stake of isolation or abuse or depression.  Whatever it is, I think a lot of writer’s voices – and I know mine are honed by resistance to harsh realities external or internal.  I enjoyed writing this poem and honoring that idea of transcending destruction and burning a mark into society that is uniquely your own and not being forgotten.

Pyrography is an incredible choice of title for this poem, was it what inspired this piece or did it come after the fact?
Pyrography came late as a title to this poem.  The working title was Girl on Fire, from the image that inspired the poem.  Then I was thinking about how while they destroyed the girl’s body in the poem, they were marked by her – she burned into them, like an eye through a flame.  And that’s when I got the idea of pyrography – her art is burning her words into wood.  I thought this worked with the idea of the stake and the community that sought to end her in this manner.  Her biography is inside the pyrography that she burns on the stake and in their hearts.


You can read Kristin Garth’s poem, “Pyrography” in Issue Six of The Ginger Collect.