Guernica Magazine

Lisa Wells: Tapering of Extremes

The writer reflects on the beef between poets, enjoying every day miracles, and practicing selfless listening. The post Lisa Wells: Tapering of Extremes appeared first on Guernica.
By Jaclyn Campanaro.

Lisa Wells is a poet of dark and harrowing lyrical power, whose first book, The Fix, won the 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize and was just released in April 2018. The poems in The Fix drift across the barrier between oblivion and insight, a mutable boundary that is explored as deeply in the poems’ chronicles of punk-scene tragedies, defeated relationships and intoxication as in the tension of their finely wrought forms. Wells shies away neither from the bitterness of bewilderment nor the sorrow of reaching beyond one’s own invulnerability. Rather than positing a static sense of serenity, The Fix thrives on this bone-deep distress.

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Wells is also an essayist, with a nonfiction book, Believers, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2019. Encountering Wells’ range of poems, essays, interviews, podcast appearances and captivating reading style (documented on YouTube) spurs the conviction that the subtle miracles of the mind and body are enough to sustain faith in a literary life. I spoke to Wells by phone from opposite coasts of the country, using the occasion of her debut poetry collection to address some of the far-reaching impressions her work has made on me.

Michael Juliani for Guernica

Guernica: How and when did you start putting this book together?

I would say, seventy percent of the book was written in grad school, but a few of the poems are as much as ten years old. I have a somewhat unconventional background in that I dropped out of high school and I worked odd jobs for thirteen years before I returned to school—so a couple of the poems were written before I was even an undergrad. Otherwise, my story

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