CA+T Interview with Kimberly Alidio
Personal Interview conducted in Davis, CA
June 22, 2013
Sarita See, CA+T Interviewer
Kimberly Alidio, Poet/Scholar
Interview video-recorded by Jan Bernabe. Transcribed and edited by Matthew Andrews.
Sarita See: Kim, I think it was four months ago. We were on the phone, and I was asking you about being an in-house blogger, our first Artist-in-Residence or Writer-in-Residence. So, we were talking about the book project and, from what I recall, your dissatisfaction with, crudely speaking but maybe not so crude, traditional historiography and the kind of form of writing, the history of colonial education, and about sort of wanting to come up with a new poetics, a way of writing that history and historiography. And, then I was asking you about letters in the manuscript [and] poems both sort of in terms of form as well as the content. The epistolary comes back over and over again ...
Kimberly Alidio: And then at that point I talked to you about this manuscript of poems to academia. I started that in the fall. I have like twenty-five pages, and they're all called Poems for A, for Academia
KA: Yea. One of them is going up [on CA+T's website], and that actually is a revision of something older, but for the most part it's all very sentimental. It's basically in the form of writing to a crush, so I think it must have been that conversation. I don't really know the timing of what came before that, but our conversation probably came before then, and I started to write this.
SS: Do you have one of the [poems]? Can you read that?
KA: I can pull it up. ... [Reads "A Secret" from iPhone]
and the wiccan gingerly held smoke to my longer tooth
brass and sage fanged with submarine
I kept your concrete
masons’ geometry and Rackham shadow
high as lambs with headbags
the glass silence in your trigger finger
secret lesbian commission
openly cheating on a mutton
go out from Detroit and speculate on a town
entire city in stone a sacred floor
my rear-admiral oh
chippendale phyfe and queen anne
SS: Would you tell us about your relationship to poetry, about leaving and then returning to it?
KA: So, the biography is kind of boring. I spent college writing poetry and then decided to move from feminist theory to history and then went into Ann Arbor, studied history, and then as soon as I defended, I started writing poems again and then went into the UT [University of Texas, Austin] job, put it aside, and then once I decided to leave that job, I started writing poems again. And, now I'm going back, and I'm trying to finish the manuscript for no good reason at all because I don't have to, so I think that's kind of what I'm … One of the subjects of the [Artist-in-Residence] blog is why do it?
SS: And what would your answer to that question be, why do it?
KA: I guess you have something to say. ... So, I think the whole point about this collection, the Poems for A, is trying to find the language that is not rigorous and relentless and, like, demanding a reader but is actually open, relenting, and kind of willing to sort of melt with somebody ... I mean, I guess it'd be affect but more sort of engaging and teasing and sort of fluid, allowing meanings to change with the reader. But, I think a lot of people are writing like that, but as you know, I have problems with writing authoritatively. I think that's kind of what I've been talking about.
KA: But I've been reading a lot and trying to find models still. They are out there, but I think I had to stop being in the history discipline to actually allow all of this to happen.