Mary Rose Dwyer
First Year MFA
Q: What have you learned about yourself through the writing process?
A: Lately, I've noted how the processes of observation and intellectual/emotional gestation are probably the most important parts of my writing process. I used to think that churning out words was the only productive thing. Also, I've learned that I often need parameters to reel me in--traditional forms or page margins have been really transformative containers for many of my poems.
Q: What are the artworks, books, musicians, films that have influenced you and your work?
A: Artworks: Anything surreal or uncanny - Magritte and Dahli were my first exposures to that kind of work, but I know there are many others whose names don't come to mind immediately. Always looking for suggestions! I find Medieval art really fascinating, too--anything with weirdness, myth, and alchemy.
Books: Italo Calvino's The Complete Cosmicomics, W.S. Merwin's The Lice, Yusef Komunyakaa's The Emperor of Water Clocks, Srikanth Reddy's Facts for Visitors, Sinan Antoon's The Book of Collateral Damage, Eugenio Montale's Ossi de Sepia. And lots of children's books. I love nursery rhymes.
Musicians: Always changing but here are some tops: Odetta, Lead Belly, Mulatu Astatke, Etta James, Talking Heads, Steeleye Span.
Films: Basically anything Hitchcock, Persona by Ingmar Bergman, Soleil O by Med Hondo, Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski, and The Stepford Wives by Bryan Forbes (that's the 1975 version, not the 2004 camp-fest with Nicole Kidman). It seems I've developed a fascination with movies that have a creepy, patriarchal and claustrophobic gaze.
Q: What does success mean to you?
A: Living in a community of people who care for one another, create together, grow things, and commit to trying to make life better for everyone. Many communal dinners cooked with love. I'll consider myself successful if I can someday put all of my cookbooks to better use.
Q: If you could map out your emotional landscape, what kind of animals and trees would we encounter?
A: Let's say a mix between a redwood forest and a coral reef--lots of tall, snaky water plants and different colored fish and birds, and dark spooky pockets of cold water next to sunlit brambles. Probably a lot of big spiders scuttling around, weaving their fragile webs. Octopuses, bees, birds, frogs, belugas. Lots of cats, free-roaming and looking, alternately, for curiosities and nap spots.
Q: Who would you cast to play the lead role in the biopic of your life? What would it be called?
A: I think I'm going to go with Lorraine Bracco, not because she actually bears any resemblance to me but because I love everything she has ever done and I think she can capture the essence of New Jersey/New York-ness very well. Maybe it would be called, "My Double Life as a Mobster's Wife."