Question: At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?
Which is my favorite poem at this moment in time, no? That’s a really, really hard question to answer, as I love all the poems in turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, but I suppose at this moment, it would have to be the opening poem, “Matarose Tags G-Dragon on the 7,” which was first published in POETRY.
It was in Lorna Dee Cervantes’s workshop at the 2014 Cantomundo retreat that I wrote this poem; it just came to me in a rush of sound. This poem has since become a gateway for other poems: since that day, I began to “hear the music” when writing— and when I’m not writing, for that matter, particularly at night, when I’m trying to go to bed. If I don’t write the words, they get louder and louder, and they won’t let me sleep at all until I write them down. Music itself has always been part of my life. I used to play set. As in the drum set. I also played piano. So music has always been very important to me. I listen to music while writing, commuting, walking around, before going to sleep, and waking up. I like listening to musical scores, soundtracks especially. Under the Skin is a favorite— Mica Levi is a genius. The music I hear that leads me to writing is never deliberate; I just hear it. And in hearing the music, I “see” the poems as well as “feel” them; the words start to bubble up, burst, congeal, thaw, fragrant the air. I don’t know if that makes sense. When I try to explain my own experience of writing, I feel it never captures fully the joy of the writing itself. Because even the most painful and frustrating of poems to write—there’s joy for me in it.
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, POETS.org, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal ,Hunger Mountain, The Adroit Journal, The Southeast Review, North American Review, Salamander, Poetry Northwest, among others. Her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, and published by The Kenyon Review Online. She writes for The Kenyon Reviewblog. She is currently editing a special chemistry poetry portfolio for Pleiades, and is finishing a series called The Atomic Sonnets, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. Find her at 7TrainLove.org