Q&A: Dena Rash Guzman

Q&A: Dena Rash Guzman


Q: What style of music do you think most closely resembles your poetry?featured dena

A: I don’t possess a poetic musical vocabulary. It is hard to answer this question.

Q: Did you choose your writing style, or did it choose you? What does your style allow you to do with your poetry, that other styles would not?

A: I am not in a monogamous relationship with any one writing style. I fool around. This allows me to do anything with my poetry that I can think of, except during heat waves. Unless there is AC.

Q: How do you choose what a poem will look like on the page?

A: When I want a crystal ball and to envision its appearance before completion, I often refer to other poets and what their poems look like, and also practice writing from within the corseted strictures of form. Other times I free-ball till it’s just right. I pick away and move the everything of the poem around until it becomes itself.

Q: How do you choose your punctuation, or lack thereof? Does it have more to do with grammar, visual cues, or auditory/musical cues?

A: I love punctuation. When it goes in, I like it to be precise, and yes, it has to do with grammar, which is visual and auditory/musical.

Q: Do you think that punctuation can be equated with musical notation symbols such as note value, rests, and dynamic markings? How do you think of white space? Between words and stanzas? As it relates to the size and shape of the paper your work is printed on?

A: I think they equate – particularly if the poem is being read with the eyes and not heard by the ears. Punctuation helps the alphabet and the white spaces sing to the mind, which reads in silence when it wants to do that, and isn’t that a marvelous trick?

Q: Do you think your poetry gives visual auditory cues to the reader? Do you think the reader hears the way you read your poetry by sight alone? If not, what do you think impedes this transfer of information?

A: I believe it should give v/a cues but not speeding tickets.

Q: How do you notate your poetry to make up for the lack of your voice being there? Do you try?

A: I write for the page. It’s my voice that needs notating when the paper is not there.

Q: Do you consider yourself a performer of your poetry, or a reader? How come?

A: Both one and the other depending on the situation, though quite often I fall flat. Some works I write so that they should be read by eyes. Most. I have written and performed stage plays and pieces better suited for stage, but those veered from poetry and into the territories of prose. Poetry itself is harder to translate with my mouth and body for intake through the ears of others. I honor my responsibility to my audiences in every way I can, but unfortunately the result is not always a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping reading after which everyone runs up and high fives me. I don’t always make my bed, either.

Q: How would you describe your performance/reading style? Do you think that popular reading styles have shaped the way you read, or have you actively worked against the pull of mainstream performance style?

A: I don’t know that I can define a style, and I did not realize there was a mainstream performance style in poetry, because I go to a good number of readings, and no two people ever sound quite the same, be they shouting and gesturing, or muttering and shuffling.

Q: Do you think you’re the best performer/reader of your own work?

A: I think now and then I manage to take a piece and rock the mic like a vandal, but one of my favorite forms of collaboration is to write a poem and hand it as a script to a filmmaker. One example is my poem 32 Warhol. I wrote it, a Colorado filmmaker shot footage for it and a Swede living in the People’s Republic of China translated it to German. His translation was recorded, and it’s his voice you hear during the film.


Ink Node: High by Dena Rash Guzman

Film by Swoon for the poem 'On the stars outside' written and read by Dena Rash Guzman.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/49500532 w=500&h=281]


Dena Rash Guzman is an American author, poet, editor, born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Author of Life Cycle—Poems (Dog On A Chain Press, 2013). Founding Editor literary journal Unshod Quills. Founder of Old Heavy Press; first print title for release in 2013, a chapbook about David Bowie by Seattle author Jenny Hayes. Managing Director at HAL Publishing, Shanghai’s independent English language literary journal and small press. Coproducer and co-curator for Unchaste Readers, Portland’s only live reading series focusing solely on the work of female writers. Co-producer, Shanghai Tunnels International Video Poetry Competition, 2012.

POEM (Biblical exegesis) by Justin Sherwood

POEM (Biblical exegesis) by Justin Sherwood

Language Play by Leah Umansky

Language Play by Leah Umansky