One of the many awards that noted American poet Judith Skillman has received is from the Academy of American Poets (for Storm), while Red Town and Prisoner of the Swifts were Washington State Book Award finalists. Her poems have been included in such journals as Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, and FIELD; also, her collaborative translations in various journals. She’s in Best Indie Verse of New England as well. Her latest full poetry collection is Kafka’s Shadow and you can visit her here.
How did you decide on Franz Kafka for your new poetry collection?
I read “Metamorphosis” again and was very taken with it. After a span of thirty years since the last reading, the story took on new dimensions. Then I read “The Stoker,” “The Judgment,” and “Letter to His Father,” as these have been reissued in a new edition titled The Sons (Schocken Books, Inc., 1989). After a visit to San Francisco, I wrote “Kafka’s Wound” and continued to find myself thinking and writing about Kafka. It took awhile before I realized the series might become a collection.
What are some of the most interesting things about him you discovered?
I learned that his relationship with his father was extremely complicated, and that helped my understanding of his work.…
In the spring, planting commences, the roots of verbs and gerunds are persuaded to cloak themselves in new soils and stretch into blank territory without the sun’s compass; the weeds that hold as fast as skin distracting the soft and hairless on their route; to thicken and thickening, rinds and lemons, the oranges trees souring at the twigs without ever flowering:…
Donna asked me to run off to the farm, raise goats and sheep and turnips with her. Seventh grade, and I don’t know, don’t go, though china doll Donna with her hair like a central Kansas night is still a Helen in high school, every guy wants her, and I’m no different, though I love what she writes me in her letters as much as her looks.
I kept that one about the goat farm, take it with me when I travel, and sometimes I write back, cursive script into the past, letters to the girl from that boy back in junior high.
Ryan W. Bradley has pumped gas, painted houses, swept the floor of a mechanic’s shop, worked on a construction crew in the Arctic Circle, fronted a punk band, and more. He is the author of eight books of poetry and fiction, including the story collection Nothing But the Dead and Dying. He received his MFA from Pacific University and lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons.
In this episode, Editor-in-Chief Jordan Blum speaks with Bradley about balancing life as a writer and graphic designer, reflections on a scary run-in with a white supremacist, and thoughts on Twin Peaks and the new Queens of the Stone Age LP (among many other things).