Art Feature: Grazing: A Horse’s Perspective

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments



Grazing: A Horse’s Perspective
by Mary Wlodarski

Mary Wlodarski is a lover of all things animal, and lives in Minnesota with her two horses and miniature dachshund.  She completed her MFA from Hamline University in the spring of 2013.  Her current project is a collection of horse poems titled Speak Horse.  She has had poetry published in the St. Paul Almanac, Sleet, Versus Literary Magazine and Shark Reef.

Linsey: This is the first time Spry has been able to feature visual art, and we’re so excited to open the feature with “Grazing: A Horse’s Perspective.” What inspired you to write this particular piece, and to craft it as a concrete poem?

Mary: Horses have been both a grounding and inspiring force of my life since I was a girl, whether it was reading about them in books, dreaming about them, or focusing school assignments around them.  Even today, horses help me understand my world better; in my poems, I want to share with other humans just how remarkable they are. I am always trying to get closer to the horses, and this poem is a perfect example of that.  I wanted to channel the energy they would feel while grazing.


I am awestruck when I come across a concrete poem that is as effective and artfully structured as yours. When creating a concrete poem, how do you decide upon the final shape and structure of the piece? What considerations do you make, and how do you know what to cut and what to keep?

It seems to me, that this poem needed to move across the page the way a horse moves through a pasture. I imagined the way that their mouths chew the grasses, because I have watched this so many times, and started to make the text move that way. For this poem, it really felt like shape and movement were central. Sound and content took a secondary role.


In your piece, as with some of your other work featured in places like Versus Literary Magazine and in the Saint Paul Almanac, you evidence a gift for embodying and portraying the natural (horses in particular, it seems, but, as in “Thirty Degrees Below Zero,” other aspects of nature as well). What is it about the natural that you find particularly inspiring? Are there any poets or writers, who write on nature or otherwise, that you find influence or speak to your body of work?

Nature is inspires me because that is where horses live.  For me they are inextricably linked, and because my most striking moments happen around the horses, nature has to be a part of that.  In high school, I came across Mary Oliver, and her excitement about nature made me think I could write about it too. Since then I have been inspired by so many poets, Joy Harjo, William Stafford, Mary Ruefle, Jim Moore, Jack Gilbert, Robert Hass.  All of them write about nature in one way or other, not that I would call any of them nature poets.


Would you like to tell us some more about your project Speak Horse?

Speak Horse is a book-length project I am working on, centering on the role that horses have had in my life and also the role they have played historically.  In the book I explore the nature of horses and specifically the horses I have known, as well as the wisdom they have to offer humans. As the title would suggest, I feel that it is my study in learning to speak horse.


Can you describe your creative process, or any habits you have picked up over the years that help you hone your craft? 

My brain tends to percolate.  I need a lot of time for the ideas to swim in my head before I am ready to write.  Part of that means I have learned when I am staring blankly at the screen or page, it is time to move.  My favorite, of course, is going out the barn.  This usually gets my words flowing again.  The other part, and this is harder to do, is trust that all of the material that I am reading, the things in my life that I’m doing—even the drudgery—will fit into the poem writing process at some point.  Trusting the creative ebbs and flows is something that I have learned that I need to do, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Some poems come quick like a lightning strike, and others I work on for years.


Who are you reading right now? Are there any poets, writers, or pieces that you would recommend to our readership?

Right now I am reading baby books since I am pregnant with my first child, but I am squeezing in a few books on the Dressage master Nuno Oliveira, occasionally some poetry.  But mostly pieces from the American lit cannon, since those are the courses I am currently teaching.  Poets I’ve encountered lately that I would recommend would include Matt Rasmussen, Jude Nutter, Warsan Shire, and Richard Blanco.


As this is our first art feature, are there any artists you find inspirational, or who you would recommend? 

A painter and poet I love is Susan Solomon.  She paints these tiny, vivid paintings that are bursting with color and honesty.  She has a gift for capturing an energy.  Her fantastic work can be seen here.


Have you any other news, or further information that you’d like to share with our readers?

If readers are interested in seeing more of my published poems, they can visit my website by clicking here.


Linsey Jayne is a wave-headed poet with a penchant for jazz who received her MFA in creative writing at Fairfield University. Her writing has been published in such publications as The Standard-TimesThe Dartmouth-Westport Chronicle, and exactly.what.  She has served as the chief poetry editor for Mason’s Road, as well as the student editor for the Bryant Literary Review and the opinion section editor of The Archway. Linsey is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, entitled Idle Jive.

Please check on the last day of every month for more featured artwork!

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