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Transom:
Can your title, “Everything is Sweetened by Defiance,” be read as a kind of commentary on the art of poetry-making itself? Does the resistance offered by the blank page “sweeten” the writing process?

Danos:
Definitely. I was also thinking of literary defiance in terms of writing outside the normative mode of contemporary poetry or, as a poet, writing poems that are in no way similar to one's previous series or project. Is the blank page conquerable in that way? I’m not so sure. When I confront a blank page, I never have a game plan aside from drink too much coffee then type or scribble or compose via smartphone.

Transom:
Something about the way your poem ends, with the speaker “chewing two sticks / of cinnamon Dentyne” has us thinking about explosions. We’re set up to expect “dynamite” to be attached to the “two sticks” that the speaker’s chewing. Instead, the transformation takes place via Dentyne, a far stickier substance, which turns the speaker into his / her “father.” Does truth come to us in bright, sparking epiphanies (dynamite), or through a slower unfolding (Dentyne)? Maybe we’re really asking: can you ever outrun your past?

Danos:
That should be Dentyne’s next ad campaign. Like in other poems from this series, the enjambments often conjure two potential directions at the same time. The way truth processes us is subject to change. I wrote the poem contemplating how the ultimate defiance is to embrace that which you rebelled against in the past. You defy the younger iteration of yourself, and it's so gloriously conflicted and full of melodramatic betrayal! On a personal level, this poem gestures at the acceptance of that old cliché that many have reservations about “becoming their parent,” where I believe certain aspects of their personalities are inevitably transferred. When one notices those similarities (in personality or lifestyle preference or whatever), then it’s difficult to draw comparisons. To answer the question, truth comes in both forms. I may have sudden realizations or truths (similar to how my brain jumpstarts the writing process) or an accumulation of smaller realizations will build into one, unavoidable truth. Both variations can “stick” if you let them. Or you can circumvent truth by being outside its blast radius.