Interview Conducted by Jessica Therese, PD Assistant Editor
1. Some of your writing and commentary discusses empowering disabled women. Why is that such an important topic for you?
I have a chronic illness that causes near constant pain and in nearly every way shapes the way I interact with the world.
Actually, I’ve only written a few pieces about sickness, maybe five total out of three books and years of work. Considering how much it affects my life, it comes up very rarely in my writing. It’s something I want to explore more thoroughly, but I think often the things closest to me are hardest to write about. I have no perspective on my sickness, I just live inside it.
2. In your poem “For Teenage Girls With Wild Ambitions and Trembling Hearts” you have written some amazing, powerful lines such as “You are the first drop of a hurricane. Your bravery builds beyond you.” Please describe your writing process with this poem.
I had this idea of writing an “Advice To Teenage Girls” poem where I spoke to a girl at every age who had accomplished something remarkable. It rolled around in my head for weeks and when I finally sat down to write it, it was finished in about twenty minutes.
It was nearly the opposite of my process with most poems. Most of the time I come to the poem not knowing exactly what I feel, and I work my feelings out through the poem. With “Teenage Girls,” I knew exactly what I wanted to say, and it was just a matter of figuring out the best way to say it.
3. What is your favourite poem that focuses on empowering women?
The poems that make me feel most empowered as a woman are the poems where women fail, fuck up, and reject obligation. I feel empowered when women write about bodies in a way that is not sexual, when women write about sex in a way that is not meant to be consumed. I feel empowered when women are allowed to experience womanhood/personhood without concern as to whether their lives look pretty for other people. When women write about honest experiences, that’s when I feel least alone and most allowed to live honestly myself.
4. Do you have any words of advice for survivors of abuse or degradation?
You are not alone. The worst thing that ever happened to you does not define you.
I believe in your survival.
When Violence Is Not Mentioned
By Clementine von Radics
Just his hands
in a city with no streetlights
and they are nowhere
near my body.
Just a round body
with so much unbruised skin.
Just a stranger’s house
and a catastrophe of sound
in the basement. And a girl
and though my breath smells
like a target,
no one comes for me.
Clementine von Radics is an internationally touring poet and performer. Her latest book, Mouthful of Forevers, is available online and in bookstores worldwide. More of her work can be found at clementinepoetry.com.