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Massy Interviews / Carlie Blume

On Thursday, June 9 at 6pm, join Massy ArtsMassy Books, and poet Carlie Blume for the launch of her debut collection “Gigglepuss” (2022, Guernica Editions).

At the in-person event, Blume will be joined by moderator Shazia Hafiz Ramiji, and guest readers Jen Currin and Hope Lauterbach for a night to celebrate poetry, and the human need for connection, identity and home.

Click here to register for the event

Click here to purchase Gigglepuss by Carlie Blume

Click here to purchase Hider/Seeker by Jen Currin

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To celebrate the event, Rafael Zen interviews Blume for Massy Arts, discussing poetry as a reasonable method to address the intensity of life.

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Carlie Blume / Reclaiming yourself is the ultimate act of care

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Rafael Zen – Why Gigglepuss? What do you think this title conveys of the poetic experience readers will have with your book? When readers accept your invitation to poetry – what should they expect?

Carlie Blume – I chose the title for a variety of reasons— I really like the simplicity of single word titles and I felt that the phrase ‘Gigglepuss’ accurately embodied the era in which I grew up in (1990’s since it was something I heard quite a bit.

A lot of the adults would call me a ‘Gigglepuss’ and I think that it was because laughing became a bit of a nervous tick for me as a kid, a way for me to expel the tension I was feeling while still flying under the radar.

I guess I wanted to turn the phrase on its head a bit.

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RZ – Your book’s synopsis claims that Gigglepuss delves into a past marked with loss, broken family dynamics, and the looming shadow of familial mental illness. How is it, for you, to release a poetic work that is so personal and up-close? Do you think poems make it harder or easier for the writer to discuss and understand trauma?

CB – At first while I was writing the book I only felt the exhilaration of finding the language to express all the traumas that had accumulated over the years.

This is a phenomenon I have heard to be quite common with writers who speak about their traumatic past, so I had to go inward and remind myself that writing this book was the right thing for me to do regardless of the mondo vulnerability hangover I was experiencing.

I reminded myself of all the strong, messy, complicated women I admire who write about the deepest parts of themselves.

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RZ – The synopsis also says that your poems touch on sexual abuse, lost relationships, the influence of pop culture, and the intensity of motherhood with drops of self-awareness, irony and even absurdity. Why choosing poems to address these questions and issues? What do you think it is the potency of poetry in times like ours?

CB – Poetry felt like a reasonable way for me to address the intensity of these topics. I had never before written about anything so emotionally challenging and painful and so when I started out I began attempting essays and a bit of fiction and everything just kept falling flat.

I tried condensing a lot of what I was saying and playing with words and imagery and white space and soon found that poetry was how I was going to be able to successfully tell these stories.

Right now I think poetry is experiencing a bit of a renaissance for a variety of reasons — for one we are living in an extreme time where the intersection of climate crisis, misinformation, heightened political polarization, and our increasingly thin attention spans have created a mental and physical burnout like none our modern society has ever seen.

And second I think people are just tired and there is a power and density to poetry that provides the mind and soul with something I think a lot of us are hungry for at the moment.

In the past poetry has been notorious for something people use to soothe themselves with in times of political and social unrest.

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RZ – Bucking against a patriarchal society, Gigglepuss is said to be a confrontational portrayal of our human need for connection, self-identity and home. What identities did you choose to reveal in this book – from the many you carry (or are forced to carry)? In that sense, what do you think this book reveals?

CB – As a woman I have spent my entire life reconciling and negotiating with the various identities imposed on me by society, by my family and myself. So much of what shapes girlhood and womanhood is what is expected of us, whether this is something we like or not.

I often think about what my life would have looked like if I hadn’t carried the socialization I experienced as a child growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s.

I think it’s common for a poet’s work to reflect the multitude of identities they grapple with. That is part of the lure of poetry, it has the incredible ability to seek and find on such a deep psychological level.

For myself it has been really tantamount to my own excavation of self. It’s a dynamic process, always shifting with every year of my life that goes by and a lot of what ‘Gigglepuss’ did for me on a personal level was allow me to exist outside of all the identities I at times feel chained to.

It allowed me to weave in and out of the nurturer, the artist, the sexual being, the child, the friend, the philosopher and come out of it all as a singular, contemplative voice devoid of labels. It allowed me to be messy and ever shifting and most importantly human.

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RZ – Can you choose one single poem to share with our readers – one that encapsulates this book’s core style or message? Why this one?

CB – Methodology of Excavation and Trauma is a poem that best encapsulates the core of ‘Gigglepuss’. It is a poem that acknowledges the challenges of contending with a traumatic past and the precariousness of healing.

There is a pervasive mythology around counselling and therapy — especially these days with the recent boom of the wellness industry — that it is this all-encompassing solution and it really isn’t. Seeking therapy can at times reignite pain and make it harder for healing to take place.

For me that was the case, and a lot of what this poem encompasses is that despite the setbacks, the predatory therapists I encountered and financial setbacks associated with it all I persisted.

And so much of this book is about persevering, despite.

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