Wednesday, May 13, 2015

STEEP TEA: Rachael Briggs



I first met Rachael Briggs on-line, over at the internet poetry workshop Poetry Free-for-all. I have been a workshop member for years, even before I moved to the States in 2003. When Rachael found us and started posting her poems for critique, I was drawn to her voice (witty, interrogative, unafraid) and her artful ways with poetic forms. Once PFFA opened its Collaboration Ark, she and I decided to enter Howard's ship and write a renga (Japanese linked form) together.

At that time, having moved from upstate NY, she was living in Australia, and so was leading an expatriate life, as I was, and still am, in NYC. She loved the natural environment down under, and many exotic animals, birds and plants soon found their way into her poetry. We thought we could carry our antipodean seasonal references into the renga, and thus convey the enormous distance that was covered by our collaboration. The renga "Steep Tea" has become the title poem of my new book. We enjoyed writing it so much that we wrote another one.

We met in person twice, both times in NYC. The first time, she met two of my colleagues and delighted them with her intellectual liveliness. She and I read together at the Jojomukti Tea Lounge. She turned in a performance honed by experience in the Brisbane poetry scene. By then she had published her award-winning book of poetry FREE LOGIC. The second time, she stayed with me. I remember that visit chiefly for a memorable breakfast at Barney Greengrass, where Rachael ate her bagel and cream cheese with evident relish. We bonded over talk about poetry and love.

I hear she is moving back to the States. It'd be lovely to resume our conversation.

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