Dorianne Laux: The Willow Springs Interview

Dorianne Laux is the author of seven books of poetry. Her collection Facts about the Moon was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She recently published  Superman: The Chapbook, and co-wrote, with Kim Addonizio, The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasure of Writing Poetry.

Laux says of her poems, “It’s really important to me for people to understand what it is that I’m trying to say. On the other hand, I don’t want to write simple poems. I want to give people something really meaty to chew on.” Her poems balance the complexities of life with an understanding of the emotions of ordinary people. In her poem “Facts about the Moon,” she writes, “The moon is backing away from us / an inch and a half a year. / That means if you’re like me / and were born around fifty years ago / the moon was a full six feet closer to the earth. / What’s a person supposed to do?”

Born in Augusta, Maine in 1952, Laux worked as a sanatorium cook, a gas station manager, a maid, and a donut holer before receiving a BA in English from Mills College in 1988. She is known for poems of personal witness and for writing about everyday experiences. American Poetry Review referred to her book Awake as “gutsy in its use of daily practice, daily grief and joy. Dorianne Laux’s Awake is one of the best first books I have ever read. These are poems of remarkable maturity.”

Awards for her work include a Pushcart Prize, an Editor’s Choice III Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Awake was nominated for the San Francisco Bay Area Book Critics Award for Poetry and her second book, What We Carry, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Laux has taught at the University of Oregon and now lives with her husband, poet Joseph Millar, in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she teaches at North Carolina State University. In 2008, she met with Willow Springs contributing interviewers Terrance Owens, Shira Richman, and Tana Young at the Spokane Club, where Laux peeled an orange and discussed pop culture, jazz, and the beautiful arches built by termites. This interview was originally published in Willow Springs 64.

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