About the Poems
by Bronwen Tate
While living in Italy, teaching ESL, I kept notebooks into which everything fell: to-do lists, descriptions of travels and encounters, vocab words from a Svevo novel, recipes, rants, quotes from whatever book I was reading at the time, sleepy slanting lines that just might be the only English I'd brush against all day. English was a tool I taught people how to use to obtain what they needed; Italian was the temporary language of my personal life. I began this series, Souvenirs, about six months after I returned to the US to begin an MFA. I constructed them in bursts of about five or six at a time (there are 26 in all) by reading through these notebooks and typing up phrases or words that caught my eye. When I had about a page and a half of isolated words or phrases, I chose titles which served as an organizing principle, guiding the way in which I divided the sentences up and arranged them in prose blocks. In this way, "Venetian Carnival Masks" drew sentences that touched on identity, however obliquely, while "Train Ticket (Bologna to Pesaro) became about movement. Once the sentences were divided up, some were discarded, and then I rearranged them and wrote a few sentences or words to connect or provoke.