Musings on Poetry and the Art of Collaboration

After a some time away from poetry while working on a novel-length book, my return to the genre came with a new appreciation of the form. I start my mornings with poetry. If I’m not writing poems, I’m reading them. One of my goals last year was to work on a poetry collection featuring fairy tales and myth. And I’m pleased that I’ve made progress on that front. Several of my new pieces found homes, and poems I’ve been working on for years finally took form. In the end, I published five poems in 2021, and I have two more forthcoming.

Most recently, my collaborative poem “Ars Poisana” was published in Enchanted Conversation. I co-wrote this piece with Andrea Blythe several years ago. (Check out Blythe’s award-winning chapbook Twelve, a short series of linked poems based on the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” You’ll be glad you did.) Before working with her, I had never written a poem (or anything else) with another person. I wondered if it was even possible. But as we layered line over line and took turns making sweeping passes on the text, this poem took a shape and voice of its own. I’d never experienced anything like it, but I was hooked. I love the idea of poets collaborating on projects, and it’s something I hope to do again. In fact, I have the glimmer of an idea for a collection taking shape. Stay tuned!

A girl has heard the stories, fair maidens who knew better,

but slipped into the witch’s garden despite the warnings.

The witches have stories too, stories about good girls

who plucked petals from blooming plants

to eat the secrets and plant the seeds in black soil and red hearts.

“Ars Poisana” by Carina Bissett and Andrea Blythe, Enchanted Conversation, December 2021

Around the same time I started work on “Ars Poisana,” I wrote the first draft of “Bright Tapestry.” I was enamored with tapetum lucidum (Latin for bright tapestry), the reflective surface on the top part of some animals’ retinas. If only human predators could be as easily identified. I reworked this poem numerous times over the years but could never get it just right. Finally, on the day of the deadline for the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VIII, I sat down and spent six hours reworking and refining until I had a poem that was worthy of submission. I’m happy to say that the publication of “Bright Tapestry” marks my third appearance in the annual HWA Poetry Showcase.

The solitary woman stalks alleys,

a time traveler spinning dark

matter, the cosmic web.

She searches for eyeshine,

animal bridegrooms disguised

as bluebeards, princes, and wolves.

“Bright Tapestry” by Carina Bissett, HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VIII, edited by Stephanie Wytovich, November 2021

In October, my poem “The Tower” was part of ARCANA —an innovative project based in Munich, Germany. Each participating writer was given the task of composing a piece of flash or a poem based on based on a specific card in the Major Arcana. You can read more about the inspiration and process of this piece HERE.

The first poem I sold as Carina Bissett was to Zoetic Press in 2013. Over the ensuing years, I’ve been lucky enough to have had my work featured numerous times in Zoetic Press’ NonBinary Review and Alphanumeric. In September, “Fairy Tale Prohibition” was included in NonBinary Review #25 Prohibition. And in July, they published “Radiant” in NonBinary Review #24 Industrial Revolution. “Radiant” was nominated for Best of the Net.

I’m hopeful for an even more productive year for poetry in 2022. And I’m off to a good start. My poems “My Body, My Book” and “Our Lady’s Bird” will be included in the forthcoming anthology Under Her Skin: A Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller at Black Spot Books. It’s available for pre-order and is scheduled to be released on April 5, 2022.

“Not for the faint of heart…Each word and phrase has been structured in such a way that the reader will experience an intense depth of emotion and feelings.”

Gini Rainey, EGuide Magazine

Published by cmariebissett

Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and fabulism. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in multiple journals and anthologies including Arterial Bloom, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, Hath No Fury, NonBinary Review, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V and VI. In addition to writing, she also teaches online workshops at The Storied Imaginarium.

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