“All Winter I Remained With the Dead,” “How Many Times Mayakovsky,” and “Black-capped Chickadees” by Dianna MacKinnon Henning appeared in Issue 19 and can be read here.
We’d love to hear more about these three poems.
For “How Many Times Mayakovsky,” I have been fascinated by the Russian poets for some time. I am interested in how repression by a government can create such force in the voice of a writer. In this poem, I needed to use restraint because the emotion behind it was so all-consuming. Perhaps the poem was also instruction to myself regarding my own emotions which sometimes feel overwhelming. I think poems instruct us and myths are hard to live by. One can see in the life of Mayakovsky that he was heading for his own destruction.
“Black-capped Chickadees” came about by watching the birds gather on our mock-orange bush. They seemed to show up when I was lightly watering as if they knew I’d sprinkle them. In researching chickadees, I read that they erase their memories after three months or so to make room for new memories. I was quite struck by the inventiveness of such erasure.
The hardest one to write was “All Winter I Remained With the Dead.” I wrote it in the dead of winter and the winters are so harsh and cold and long here in Lassen County, CA. The seasons inform the poem. It seemed a poem driven by intuition and perhaps illustrates that questions don’t always get an answer. I like to allow myself room to wander and wonder in a poem. There is no resolution here. It’s a meditation on aging. Winter is death.