Open Alphabet welcomes Ivy Page and her new book Any Other Branch, published by Salmon Poetry (ISBN 978-1-908836-45-8).

Ivy Page

Numerous literary journals have published Ivy Page's poems and her work has been anthologized in Knocking at the Door: Approaching the Other. She is the founding editor of Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine. She holds an MFA from New England College and teaches writing and other subjects in New Hampshire, where she also hosts a reading series in support of the local poetry community.

Any Other Branch explores possibilities and choices. Old lovers return as pumpkins. Recipes come laced with erotics. This is the voice of one woman dealing with cars, compost, roosters, death, words, woods, blessings, dust and gender issues. These poems are often torqued, but torqued to the point of glistening.

Open Alphabet: What initiated this project? How did you choose the title? Any Other Branch

Ivy Page: I started this book with the idea that it would be a cathartic exercise. At its conception I never thought about it as something that would get published. - The title came from a conversation I had with my husband's best friend. When we first announced that we were getting married, his friend wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. The conversation went something like this:
Eric: Every choice we make is like this tree. (Displaying a crude drawing of a tree on a napkin.)
Me: Yes....
Eric: Each of the branches is a path you can choose in life. This one (pointing to one branch) is Stephen's branch. Are you sure you want to take that branch?
Me: Yes!

OA: Did assembling this new book change you or your creative process? What surprises or challenges did you encounter in putting it together? What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

IP: It made me consider how each poem works together. It hasn't changed my process when I write each poem, but when I am putting them together in a collection, I see them from a new perspective. It is delightful. I didn't see the themes and sections until I started to make piles of the poems. I grouped them based on the recurring concepts. - That the publication process takes longer than anyone tells you!

OA: What is the role of the numeral in your work? There is the Roman "I" (or is it the personal "I"?) to start the book. There are the poems titled Mile 1, Mile 2, and Mile 3. The poems in the section titled Girl are numbered.

IP: The numbers are a nod at the labeling we all do in our day to day lives.

OA: Any Other Branch is organized into four sections -- Men, Room, Girl, High Tide -- and the first poem which stands alone. How did the poems come to each section? How did Put your indelible mark here come to stand by itself?

IP: It stands alone because it is the embodiment of the rest of the story.

OA: Where do you see yourself in the family tree of literature? Who are your kinfolk? Who are your foster parents?

IP: My family tree would start with Lord Byron and Shakespeare, with some tenuous relation to Chaucer and Milton. The immediate heritage would be the voices of my dark favorites, Plath and Roethke.

OA: Who are you reading right now? What is on your desk?

IP: Right now I have a pile of student papers, Black Aperture, and a new book I got for review How Writing Saved My Life.

OA: What question do you like, or not like, to be asked at a reading?

IP: I like to be asked about the writing process. This often starts great discussions. I dislike having someone tell me my work is "deep" and asking me if it is about me.

OA: Can you give us a hint at what we can expect to emerge in your future work?

IP: I have two books coming out over the next two years. One is The Creative Writing Workshop Written and Edited by Ivy Page and Lisa Sisler - publisher, Cognella and the other is another collection of poetry from Salmon called Elemental. It is very different from the first collection...

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Last Updated 14 Dec 2013