Ruins of Another Garden:
Amy Wright interviews Kristina Marie Darling

Amy Wright: I grew up on a farm in Virginia, which generated in me an aesthetics of dilapidation, or a fondness for crumbling houses and leaning barns. What images from your childhood helped shape your sense of beauty?

Kristina Marie Darling: As a young girl, I was fascinated by the elaborate rituals -- especially those associated with social gatherings -- that women engaged in during the Victorian era. I had numerous tea pots of varying sizes, as well as a lace dress with a hoop skirt, a fountain pen, fancy stationary sets, and a small army of letter openers. With that said, I'm still very interested in the ways that objects (and the social conventions associated with them) mediate one's experience of the world. I think there's something very beautiful and disconcerting about the rituals associated with these seemingly unremarkable domestic items.

AW: There is a lot of walking in your collection The Body is a Little Gilded Cage. Will you tell me a story of a memorable walk you've taken?

KMD: One summer I was staying in an enormous old house in New England. I would make myself take long walks in the sunlight so as not be overcome with melancholia. On one of these walks, I came across a painstakingly manicured garden. Behind the flowers were ruins of another garden, which had been abandoned years ago. I never asked anyone about it. It seemed like everyone who lived in the house took their walks there, but no one ever mentioned the ruined part of the garden.

AW: You draw from the letters of H.D. in your poems. What was the last news you received or sent via letter?

KMD: I sent a long letter to a friend with several poems about sadness. He wrote back with many suggestions for improving the poems. This is why I go for long walks.

AW: Was walking one of his suggestions?

KMD: I take walks when I feel like I'm losing control over something -- whether it's my poems, my heart, or the various debts I've amassed while writing poetry. Henry David Thoreau described walking as "an art," even a "crusade." And, for me, it's true -- taking walks helps foster a sense of leisure and independence that remains largely absent from other parts of my life.

AW: If you could be in control of anything what would it be?

KMD: I would be in control of my repressed desires. Sometimes, after waking from a strange dream, I imagine the conscious mind as a little door leading into the wilderness.

AW: You have a line in "Footnotes to a History of the Chandelier," that "Her coming of age involved a cremation of childhood mementos." Have you ever intentionally reduced something to ash?

KMD: Not even once. It's one of my greatest regrets.

AW: What would you burn?

KMD: Selections from Freud's Studies on Hysteria.