Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.
Name: Dayna Patterson
Title of Piece published in Sweet: usque ad mala
I live just about as far north and west as you can get in the continental U.S. I can zip across the border to Vancouver’s top-notch Shakespeare festival, Bard on the Beach, or mosey down to Seattle’s Pacific Science Center to see an exhibit of the terracotta warriors. My city hugs a bay where the occasional whale is spotted, and to the west is a glacier-topped volcano that grows mouth-watering wild huckleberries and blueberries. It’s a sweet spot.
You can find out more about Dayna on her website www.daynapatterson.com.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry was released in April 2018. I’m a co-editor, along with Martin Pulido and Tyler Chadwick.
I’ve also had several poems come out in Hotel Amerika, Western Humanities Review, Zone 3, and more.
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
I have two poetry manuscripts in circulation: O Lady, Speak Again was a semifinalist for the Brittingham & Pollak Prizes in Poetry and contains poems that combine my Mormon upbringing with women from Shakespeare. If Mother Braids a Waterfall examines my spiritual and ancestral heritage through Ellen Bailey and her polygamist son, Charles Ramsden Bailey.
I’m currently working on a third manuscript about breath, air, Keats, flight, and atmospheric change.
Who is your favorite author?
Ah, the impossible question. I’ve been heavily influenced by Carole Maso, Annie Dillard, Lucie Brock-Broido, Sharon Olds, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Bruce Beasley, Brenda Miller, Suzanne Paola, May Swenson, Terry Tempest Williams, Susan Elizabeth Howe, and Carol Lynn Pearson, among many, many others. Each of them has a body of work that casts a particular glow by which I write.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
Another impossible question. If stranded on an island, I would take my copy of the complete works of Shakespeare and consider myself a rich woman.
What inspires you to write?
Anguish, mostly. When I feel a peculiar tension arising, a pang, an uncomfortable awkwardness, then I know I need to write about it. Right now I’m experiencing the parenting anguish of daughters slowly transforming into teenagers. I know people have been, are, or will be in my shoes, and writing through the discomfort is like extending a hand to those who have gone before, or who are going, or who will go through something similar. In Sean Thomas Dougherty’s tiny poem, “Why Bother?” he writes: “Because right now, there is someone / out there with / a wound in the exact shape / of your words.” I can’t think of a better reason to keep writing. (Props to Todd Kaneko for bringing this poem to my attention.)
What is your favorite sweet?
Every late summer, we hike up our mountain with buckets in hand to collect the tiny wildberries. They taste like the rich soil and alpine air and mountain sunshine. Baked into a pie, there is no better dessert on earth.
That looks amazingly delicious!
Thank you, Dayna, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!