The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 28, 2008

"Language Is Infinitely Flexible And Powerful"

Diamond And here is part two of Helen Frost's post for us (you can find part one here). Her most recent collection of poetry is Diamond Willow, a book of poems shaped in patterns much like the distinctive wood grain.

"In writing The Braid I invented/discovered a book-length formal structure, an elaborate design based on Celtic knots, involving syllable counts and braided words at the beginning and ends of lines. Once I’d found the form and the characters’ voices, working so intensely within that form--9 months or so of 8-hour days, completely immersed in the work—led me to the exhilarating discovery that language is infinitely (or very nearly so) flexible and powerful.

I’ve come to see my books not so much as 'novels-in-poems' as, in each case, a whole and distinct 'novel-as-poem.' Now I enter into each novel very much as I enter into a single poem, but I have the scope (and the editorial support—thanks, Frances!) to delve deeply into the narratives and personas, and follow the images and music towards a central poetic pivot point. My most recently published book, Diamond Willow, is a book-length narrative based on a formal structure that can be found in the natural world. Combining my love of children, poetry, and Alaska with such a deep meditation on the diamond willow form was pure delight."

--Helen Frost

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