Literary Playlist* is a new SAND series in which the writers, poets, and artists describe the books that inspire them. In this installment, poet Darren C. Demaree shares a playlist of literature and music that help shape his own writing, such as that in his newest award-winning collection "Two Towns Over" and his "What the Gun Eats" series, which was featured in SAND Issue 13.
DD: Some of the projects I write are sequences that I’ve mapped out over a hundred or several hundred poems, and even though the themes and arcs have already been planned, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain the direction and energy of that kind of poetry. Explosions in the Sky is an incredible (almost completely instrumental) post-rock band from Texas that produces these emotionally searching and sometimes soaring albums. I use their albums to notch pivots and points in each sequence, so that I can work one poem at a time on a larger sequence, but never get turned around in the project on a macro-level. Utilizing their albums as musical cues for different sections of each sequence is integral to me not having to rework whole sections of those projects when I get to the end.
I write nothing like Aase Berg. Her voice is something different, something growling and tremendous. I’m obsessed with her work. I buy her new books like each one might be the key to unlocking something new in the world of poetry. I’ve spent the majority of my reading time over the last few years reading translated works because their use of language and imagery pulls on my own practice enough to make my poetry different than it would have been otherwise. I’m a white dude from Ohio, and there is nothing more important to my own writing than reading the works of anybody that doesn’t fit that description. Aase Berg‘s work is what I’ve returned to the most.
Hanif Aburraqib is a poet and essayist from here in Columbus, Ohio. There is a wholeness to his empathy and the way he writes about himself, Ohio, and other people that is magnetic. He does gymnastics with his empathy and love. His work surprises you and invigorates you in a way that is close to emotional adrenaline. There is an army of great poets here in Ohio, but Hanif’s work is what I’m currently spending a lot of time with.
This past year I wrote a 702-poem sequence entitled “Trump As A Fire Without Light,” and I was lucky enough to get an edited version of that project published under the title “A Fire Without Light.” I wrote all of those poems, and many others as well as an act of resistance. Political poetry in the America has become a focal point for many of us. We are well aware of the danger our country is in under the current leadership, and rebelling against that brand of hate and utter lack of empathy is a driving force in my work.
Darren C. Demaree is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently “Two Towns Over,” which was selected the winner of the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.