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ELIZABETH REAMES

IN CONVERSATION


ELIZABETH REAMES is a student at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, MI. She is currently studying English, History, and Theatre, and hopes to work in the museum industry while pursuing a Master's degree in Shakespeare and Performance, or Shakespeare Studies. Her previous poetry publications include individual poems in The Peacock Journal, Concordia University's arts journal In the Moment, and as part of the PoetryLeaves exhibition in Waterford Township, MI. She also has a short story forthcoming in Betty Fedora Magazine. She has a disability called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which is a connective tissue disorder which often causes chronic joint pain and health issues. These poems are from her chapbook Anatomy: A reckoning, which is an exploration of this element of her life, and her gradual coming-to-terms with it.


WHAT INSPIRED ONE OF YOUR POEMS?

“Stripe-Child” is the first poem I wrote after I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). I was headed into my senior year of high school, and I had been dealing with severe back pain for months. I thought maybe I was just carrying too many books in my backpack, or something like that. But then I was diagnosed with EDS. It's not a visibly evident disorder—that is, it doesn't really have any visual symptoms. So when you see me get out of the car and walk into the store from the handicap parking spot, or stand for a minute while my mom or dad gets my wheelchair out of the car, you wouldn't think anything is wrong with me, or that I'm just being lazy. You get all sorts of stares, and people shoving past you (well, more than usual). It was frustrating at first, and I wrote “Stripe-Child” as both a message to the
people around me, and as my first attempt at coping with this new reality I found myself in.

TELL US AN OBSCURE THING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT THE WORLD?

I have a special interest in death. More specifically, I enjoy learning about funerary tradition and rites from around the world. I recently read a book called From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, which offers an extraordinary look at the unique ways that people deal with death around the world.

WHAT ODD, FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR WRITING HABITS OR PROCESS?

I can't stand still when I'm writing! I pace like a caged lion. Once, I listened to one song on a
continuous loop for an entire hour before I was finally able to put pencil to paper and write a scene
for one of my plays.

How important is language and/or word choice to your writing?

With poetry more than any other form of writing, concise word choice is vital. Poetry tends to be a shorter medium than, say, a short story. Therefore, you have to pick words that pack the punch of a whole sentence in a single line.

Are there any themes or reoccurring threads that you try to explore in your writing? 

Disability is certainly one of the biggest themes I try to grapple with in my writing. After all, there
isn't much to do when you're stuck in bed except think and write. But I also explore my surroundings, and write poems based on them. I'm currently working on a book of poetry based on the street and neighborhood in which I live. I'm also working on poems based on artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. That collection will eventually be a book on its own. For me, art begets art. So when I am walking through the DIA, or sitting by the lake, I cannot help but make art with the art around me.

Is there something you find particularly difficult about the writing process?

Stagnant time is the enemy of my poetry. I write between sessions of experience, whether it be
classes, rehearsals, or even just going to the grocery store. So when I have to take a day and rest, I
end up writing prose—it's much easier to leave off when writing a short story than it is writing a
poem. Poems are moments to me; fiction is hours.

How much research do you do when writing?

It's vital for my fiction, for sure. I am a details-oriented person, so when I write a short story or play, I want to make sure that everything flows nicely. But my poetry tends to focus more on my experiences and perceptions of everyday life, so I don't really have much to research.

what's an underrated (or little recognized) book you love?

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf. People always talk about To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway, and both of those novels are fantastic. But The Voyage Out is not only Clarissa Dalloway's debut, but it is a coming-of-age story that is still relevant today.

What is your most recent work and where can readers find it?

I have just re-launched my Patreon page, where I post short stories and poetry weekly! I also have a Twitter account where people can get to know me as a person, as well as a writer.

LASTLY, WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK 'KINGDOMS IN THE WILD'?

A crown of feathers and bone.

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ABOUT IN CONVERSATION

What makes a writer write? What resides behind the impulse to create a work of art?  We have always been interested in these questions here at KITW. Incredibly, we’ve received such varied responses to the same questions from each of our published writers, that we thought we’d share.

We hope you enjoyed your visit to Kingdoms in the Wild, if you did, please tell a friend. Thank you for your support.

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CREDITS: in this issue
Author: Elizabeth Reames
Editor: Shompole N.L
Original Image: Esanu Eugeniu
Graphic Design: Shompole, N.L.