Tonya Russell on “The First Time”

how my flesh could open into trenches

where feathers would fit.

I rarely feel comfortable writing about/discussing the meaning of my own work. Trying to compose an artist’s statement is much more difficult than writing the poem itself. If I felt that a poem needed (or if any reader wanted) an explanation, clarification, or other words with the suffix “-tion” , the poem would not be complete, or I would need to write another poem, another creature altogether.

“The First Time”, I hope, can speak for itself, speak to you, the reader, without me adding to your reading, or (and this is what I’m terrified of!) taking away from it. I would, however, like to give credit to Sheryl St. Germain for the first line, along with being an amazing woman and an incredible inspiration to my work. (The first line is taken from her brilliant poem “Addiction”.)

So, even though I birthed this short creation, I offer it up to you to interpret as you will, to be moved as much as it allows, and despite my objections to writing a statement, I welcome any and all feedback: observations, criticisms, arguments. Namaste.

Tonya Russell, “The First Time,” Pg. 18

So to Speak Summer 2011 Online Issue featuring poetry and art

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2 thoughts on “Tonya Russell on “The First Time””

  1. Hi Tonya
    Such a delicate and beautiful poem. I agree with you – explanations would detract from the work.
    I saw from your bio that you’re going to teach in Georgia soon. All my best wishes for your experiences there.
    Linda

    Reply
  2. I will go and read St. Germain’s poem again to see how this first line in “Addiction” speaks to the reader, wondering if it will be as intimate an experience as it becomes in “The First Time.” I look forward to reading more of Ms. Russell’s work!

    Reply

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