An Interview with Nick DePascal, "IV"


Can you discuss the origin of the poem and the larger work it belongs to?

This particular piece was one of thirty I wrote during National Poetry Month in April 2015. I was lucky enough to be part of an inspiring group of writers that were all taking part in the thirty-day poem challenge. We posted prompts and shared stories and writing with one another. My prompts were all taken from an old dream dictionary by Gustavus Miller. Each of the poems I wrote during the month begins with the woman or man dreaming about the subject of the day from the dream dictionary. I randomly chose a number each day and whatever dream topic was at the top of that page was the prompt for the day! So this poem is from a larger group of linked poems that center around the dreams of a romantically linked man and woman. The dreams and, by extension, poems chart their relationship. I'm seeing it as one long poem and thinking of it as a chapbook idea.

You're on a deserted island with only one poem. Which one is it and why?

"Dream Song 29" by John Berryman. For me, the poem's emotional depths are never fully plumbed. The poem, in fact, all the Dream Songs move and shift within themselves and always offer me something new. This has always been my favorite and is one I have memorized. I can never get enough. Having this poem on a deserted island would allow me to think of all the other Dream Songs as well.

How would you describe your process?

My process is rather scattershot. I'll go weeks without writing anything, or just scribbling down words, sounds, images, and lines at random to be assembled and deepened later on. And then sometimes I'll have times where I'll draft ten fairly complete poems in the space of two or three weeks. Either way, after the initial draft I'll return to the poems and look for places where I can cut to make it punchier or expand to make it fuller. Sometimes I revise poems into various forms as a way to tame their wilder (and wordier) impulses and find their essentials. Sometimes the poems require years of revision and sometimes they come together very quickly and in full. If I'm in a particularly long writing dry spell I'll give myself prompts to work from to get out of my own head. I pretty much will try anything and leave no stone unturned when it comes to my writing process.