Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Another Visit with Emily Pulfer-Terino

by Claire Guyton

Emily was kind enough to visit with us last spring. For her return, we decided to go a little further afield than usual. Enjoy!

Illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885*

What inspired your poem “Prayer for What Disappears”?

When a friend of mine passes, I tend to read a lot of elegies; I try to ground my experience in an understanding of the enormous ranges of grief. Re-reading Hayden Carruth’s Poem “Ray,” about writer Raymond Carver, and thinking of my friend Chad, a writer who had recently died, I decided to try to respond to Carruth’s poem. I started drafting by looking at how he frames his poem—in his, the speaker is eating pie and thinking, in mine the speaker is smoking and thinking. I diverged from there pretty quickly and into this overwhelming nostalgia for what felt like a whole era of experience with a group of dear friends. It surprised me.

In poetry, do you think it’s harder to make someone laugh or cry? Why?

I have a feeling my poetry makes people cry more often than it makes them laugh. In person I’m pretty ebullient and even giggly, actually, but in my writing I tend to explore heavier themes. I really appreciate a wit that can engage the weight and complexity of a person’s experience, and I hope to cultivate my own sense of humor in my writing more.

Is a poem more like a pie or a layer cake?

What a fun question. Well, I’m neither a baker nor much of a dessert person. I think a poem is more like a pomegranate—built of all those seeds and chambers, something to be opened and consumed slowly, with concentration and pleasure.

Of all the books you’ve read (or that are currently on your reading list), what title goes best with (a) a gourmet dinner, (b) an ice cream cone, (c) a chocolate bar, (d) a peanut butter sandwich, (e) a fruit salad.

Ok, completely free-associating: (a) a gourmet dinner, The Other Lover by Bruce Smith; (b) an ice cream cone, Harmonium by Wallace Stevens; (c) a chocolate bar, Salt by Mark Kurlanski;  (d) a peanut butter sandwich, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy; (e) a fruit salad, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. 

Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos**


More Author Visits

More Poetry

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated.
Yours will show up soon, we promise.