RR: One of challenges in writing about love and loss is avoiding becoming cliche or sentimental. As a poet, how do you ensure your approach to these topics remains fresh?
KC: One of the most beautiful poems I’ve read about love and loss is “Kiss of the Sun” by Mary Ruefle, and my favorite “romantic” film is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I love them because they approach love and loss obliquely, and pay homage to the downright messiness and ineffectiveness of people. Ruefle recognizes that it’s entirely possible that she won’t be able to quench her love’s thirst, but she still promises to chuck an orange as high as she can — one last hail-mary attempt at connection. In Spotless Mind, Clementine and Joel know full well that their respective neuroses will make their relationship rife with conflict, but (spoiler alert!) they still choose to be together. I think poems risk cliche and sentimentality most when they ignore the complexity of people and real life, and the fact that it’s often through — not in spite of — hardship and conflict that the deepest love can be nurtured.
My poem “Dream Man #5” is up today at Rappahannock Review. It’s about divorce and personal pan pizza. What’s not to love??