About the Poems
by Anita Naegeli
The 19th Century English poet Robert Southey once said, “It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” Paired down narration is one of the key elements in my poetry. For me, once a first draft of a poem is written, the real work (and exciting part) begins: cutting, replacing, and moving around words, as if assembling a puzzle until every piece has found its perfect spot to become the finished poem. This process forces me to consider every word, punctuation mark and line break, justifying their being in the poem. To some, this may seem to limit the writer’s expression. But I find it enormously liberating. Working with only the bare essentials opens up an area where words and punctuation take on a new life that goes beyond the obvious content, and adds multiple layers to a poem.
I strongly believe that a narrative comes alive only through the use of opposites. Our own lives are based on opposites and contradictions. I am fascinated by how two unrelated or contradictory ideas can start to interact on the page and create a meaningful relationship between them. In every piece, I try to find and create this kind of tension.
My background as a theater performer has strongly influenced my writing. Quite a number of my poems are what I call Character Poems. Using characters and distinct voices makes the poems function like miniature performances in which the reader may play a part in the conversation. All the poems featured here make use of this device, some quite directly (“Poem”), others more subtly (“Quelle Commerce!”).