By Megan Freeman
“Some teachers will say that we must “write what we know,” but I think that for many writers, myself included, we must “write what we want to know”,” said poet Chloe Yelena Miller, who will be coming to speak at Fitchburg State University, “Translating ideas, questions and experiences into words helps me to clarify, name and better understand them. It is the editing and revising process where I hone in on the craft of the poem.
Be sure to come to campus with your listening ears intact, because the poetry reading by Miller will take place on Wednesday, April 29th!
“This will be my first visit [to FSU] and I’m very much looking forward to it,” Miller said, “I’ll be reading a number of poems, including a series of Italian definition poems. This series has spanned two manuscripts, one about grief and one about parenthood. The Italian definition poems define a word through a scene or an image. The Italian language, as it is different from English, shows up often in my work as a metaphor for an experience.”
Miller’s poetry has heavy Italian influences, and Miller plans to bring that to her reading of poetry here at Fitchburg State. One big theme of the work Miller mentioned in interview is how different two languages she writes in, English and Italian, are.
“The differences between the two languages, English and Italian, fascinate me,” said Miller, “For example, if you want to express that you miss someone in English, the person who feels the emotion is responsible for the action and the subject of the verb (“I miss you.”) But in Italian, the person who is missing is responsible for the action and the subject of the verb (“You are missing to me.”) An entire way of thinking about the world is embedded in a language.”
The poems that Miller plans to read are part of a series that she has been writing, which spans two manuscripts. Miller is currently editing a manuscript about poems specifically geared towards parenthood. Most of Miller’s poetry is based on her real life experiences.
“I was very kindly invited by Dr. DeMisty Bellinger-Delfeld with support from the Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Endowment for Italian culture,” said Miller, “I grew up in an Italian-American family in New Jersey and later spent four years living in Florence, Italy. The Italian language, which I first started to learn in college, has greatly influenced my writing.”
The intertwining and metaphorical value of the two different languages working together to show how one influences the world and how Miller as a writer interprets them will be shown in the reading. If you like foreign languages, even if you don’t know any Italian, the differences in language extend far beyond just the two.
“Many of my poems are based on real life experiences; the poems are almost like concise pieces of memoir,” Said Miller, “As I edit and revise the poems, I might make necessary changes in order to strengthen the idea behind the poem, rather than focus on what really happened. The end result is not always factual, but is true to the original emotional experience.”
If you’re curious about the style of poetry you’ll be hearing at the event, Miller explained how she goes about writing her poetry.
“I write free verse and attempt to give each poem an internal form and logic,” said Miller, “some of my poems hone in on an image while others are more narrative. While I’ve tried writing in more traditional forms, the resulting poems were less successful. I will continue to try, though, because the constraints of a form can nudge the poem in a new direction.”