Lit Youngstown student intern Katelyn Urs asks poet-in-residence Manuel Iris three questions about his new book The Parting Present (Dos Madres Press, 2021).
Katelyn: The theme of writing and the motif of silence connect in many of your poems in The Parting Present. For example, they appear as a pair in the first poem “Little poem obsessed with death” (p.3), “Answers (p.17), and then in the last one in the collection, “Silentium” (93). What draws you to the poetry writing process as a subject in your work, and how does silence fit in with that reflection?
Manuel: Writing has always been one of my recurrent themes: why do we write, and how the act of writing impacts reality (both tangible and intangible) is very important to me. I am a writer, and exploring writing is drafting a justification of my own existence. I like art and artists that question everything, including themselves. I believe that poetry is not a mirror, but a door that opens to our own spirit. I believe in silence as a part of poetry, and vice versa. To me, poetry must be not an interruption, but a continuation of silence. Contemplation, reflection, and epiphany happen before, during, and after the poem. And they need quiet. The poem is a source of silence, and silence is the point of arrival and departure of the poem. The poet is a creator of words that conjure silence. Poetry is a translation of silence.”