Digital Book Tour: New Book by Dorsey Craft
Fam, times are weird—so many of us have to figure out new ways of doing old things. Book launches, an established feature of our wonderful community of writers, have been particularly hard hit, and we’d love to make room for authors to share their work with the world. Our limited Digital Book Tour series will serve that end! Today, we’re sharing an excerpt and interview from Dorsey Craft’s Plunder.
An Excerpt from Dorsey Craft’s Plunder
The Pirate Anne Bonny Wishes Walt Whitman a Happy Birthday
Draw out the dark scarf from the spiral
of the conch, pink and empty
as the ear you cock for a dribble of dolphin,
slap its saline sachet to your nostrils nestled
in their gray swell—can you catch the fluttering
specters of my sails as you stand in stubble?
How much sand delights your curls? Have you felt
so proud to get at the meaning of the sea?
I’ve clocked your stroll a million midnights—
when you’ve donned the pigtails, pulled
at father’s sleeve to have him lend sense
to the luster of Pleiades, delicate sisters,
lacustrine gowns. I’ll tell you: a monsoon
has all the serenity of sisters, the stars
brawl red-faced for scrapes of batter
from the cake pan, their skirts of fire
flapping round their ankles, and while father
points to Jupiter’s crown, a molten thrash
crests in his daughter’s still-flat chest, a wish
to slash his soliloquy into feather-strips
and scatter his ribs across the brine. Forgive me,
when a man says, Undrape! I tend to dive
into the fur-pile, less broadcloth and gingham,
more seal and chinchilla, sharkskin gloves
and crepe veil drifting the brim of a hat
jaunty as your own, the tune I wail for myself
ensconced in animal textures, a yawp so full
of wings and gale, only my throat could birth it.
On What the Reader Will Walk Away With
Dorsey Craft: I’d like the reader to finish this book feeling braver and bolder. The further away I get from the book, the more I realize that the Anne Bonny poems are really about the speaker’s desire for more direct, brash action in her life. She’s learning that everything doesn’t have to be measured, researched, pre-planned. I think feeling and feeling through the crashing, violent reactions is so important because it can help to locate their source and address it. I hope readers put this book down and then go out and take a risk.
On What the Writer Walked Away With
Dorsey Craft: I learned about staying with a project I believed in. When I showed my first Anne Bonny poem to a workshop, I had to say the word “series” for the first time. I had never sustained a theme or character, intentionally, over multiple poems. Now I know how to build momentum and keep it. I also learned that I’m a poet who thrives on voice and persona. I had moved away from it during my MFA because it felt gimmicky, but I came back to it through this collection and it feels good.
On The Book’s Biography
Dorsey Craft: Plunder began with my MFA thesis, although only two or three of those poems made the final cut. But that’s where its roots are, because the speaker of the MFA thesis was dealing with the same issues but hadn’t yet found the alter ego of Anne. The summer after I graduated, I wrote the first three Anne Bonny poems in one morning. The series didn’t really start to flesh out until the next spring, and I wrote the final few poems last summer just before the collection was picked up.
On The Book’s Family of Support
Dorsey Craft: My peers in James Kimbrell’s 2018 manuscript workshop are at the top of the list. A room full of accomplished poets taking the book seriously made me take it seriously. I had a nagging feeling that the manuscript had too many themes, that it wasn’t coalescing. It was helpful to see how people tried to incorporate them all, but Marianne Chan said the thing I most needed to hear, which was to make a choice. I cut about a third of the poems and another third the following year. Eleanor Boudreau came up with the title and combed through the manuscript at least five times to cut and rearrange and recommend revisions. Alexa Doran looked at drafts of a lot of individual poems in their early stages and decompressed with me after stressful workshops. Tanya Grae looked at the manuscript in multiple times and coached me through the submissions and publication process. Barbara Hamby, my dissertation director, also had her hands in the manuscript several times, giving me new orders and revision suggestions that always sparked new growth. I could go on and on with this one (and I did in the Acknowledgements!), but lastly I’d like to mention Deb Gorlin, Sarah Bauhan and everyone at Bauhan Publishing. They’ve been a joy to work with and I feel so grateful that they believed in my work.
Dorsey Craft‘s debut collection, Plunder (Bauhan 2020), won the 2019 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Pirate Anne Bonny Dances the Tarantella (CutBank 2020). Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Greensboro Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Daily, Salt Hill, Southern Indiana Review, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She lives in Lake City, Florida and serves as a poetry editor at Southeast Review.