An Interview with Traci Brimhall

Interview conducted by Justin Bigos

Justin Bigos: Your second collection of poems,Our Lady of the Ruins, is mesmerizing – for all its violence and horror, I cannot look away, and I feel if not a desire, maybe even a need, to keep listening to the voices on the page.  In her introduction to the book, Carolyn Forché writes that the world of your poems is “our post-apocalyptic present.”  It’s true that the horrors in your poems seem both present and past, with the latter dimly remembered if remembered at all.  What is this apocalypse in Our Lady of the Ruins?

Traci Brimhall:  I suppose I think the apocalypse is the present, or what the present would feel like if we could feel all of history at once.  In one of my graduate classes several years ago we read Merwin’s The Liceand the teacher referred to it as mid-apocalyptic.  That idea awed and horrified me—the notion that the apocalypse is not a single cataclysmic event but a way of living in the world.  The fear.  The desperation.