Poet Dora Malech on the Importance of Getting Lost
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Dora Malech is the guest. Her most recent poetry collection, Stet, is available from Princeton University Press. Malech’s other collections include Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her fourth collection, Flourish, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2020.
Malech has been the recipient of an Amy Clampitt Residency Award from the Amy Clampitt Fund, a Mary Sawyers Baker Prize from the Baker Artist Awards, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a Writing Residency Fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and she has served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a co-founder and former director of the arts engagement organization the Iowa Youth Writing Projects, and she is currently an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
From the episode:
Dora Malech: I have a very bad sense of direction, so when I get somewhere it’s new to me again, even if I’ve been there a lot. I’m sort of perpetually surprised by wherever I am.
Brad Listi: You mean you don’t remember where you were?
Malech: I remember where I’ve been, but the route of getting there is what surprises me. I don’t have a good sense of direction where you turn right on this street and left on this street. I’ll have these dejá vu moments, but it’s not dejá vu. I’ve literally spent time in these places. I’ve been in this neighborhood, but I came by a different way and now I’m here. It’s like a goldfish. You turn around in the bowl, and you’re delighted by where you are.
Listi: I’ve been thinking about getting a flip phone because I want to be one of those people. I want to reclaim my brain, so I have these fantasies to get a dumb phone, but one of the things I’m most concerned about not having is GPS.
Malech: I feel that way too and I would love to—and I could go on a long rant about how my phone has highjacked my creative brain—but I feel the same way. I wouldn’t know where to go. But maybe that’s good.
Listi: Right. Get lost.
Malech: Get lost. I’m living in a lost state, so why not go further?
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