Below is a brief excerpt of an interview with Andrea Hollander about her book, Blue Mistaken for Sky. Read the full piece here.
This book grew from grief and rage at the destruction of your marriage. A good marriage that turned out to hold a terrible secret. How did you winnow those feelings away from the personal and toward the universal? Did you write at a hot heat and then edit, or wait until you personally had distance?
I believe that the universal comes from the personal, and not vice versa. When a poem succeeds, it does so because the experience evoked is one with which readers are able to empathize. The reader “becomes” or is in sync with the poem’s speaker for the duration of the poem in a way not dissimilar from the way readers experience a good novel.
Although it would seem otherwise, I never set out to write about a particular experience. I’ve learned from almost 50 years of writing poems that my best work will come when I have no wish to say or explain or even directly explore something.