Your poem “Pineapple” begins by
forbidding comparisons between “Fruit” and “Woman,” but then proceeds
to elaborate on this relationship by personifying a pineapple in
womanly terms and describing a woman in pineapply ones. In this way,
the argument of your poem seems to dissolve into its sonic pleasures.
Does this poem invite the reader to prioritize the subtleties of sound
over overt metaphor?
This is a great question; thank you. “Pineapple” actually begins not by
forbidding wholesale fruit-woman comparisons, but by forbidding such
comparisons being taken for granted and tossed about hastily, “[A]s a
matter of course, automatic simulacrum.” As the poem states, I’d like
to see a woman characterized as a pineapple only when she is “cleaved
by itself alone,” with dignity, not when taken for food to be chopped
and used indiscriminately. In this sense, metaphor is just as important
as sound throughout the poem.
This piece came about in a funny way. It was written in 13 minutes on a
day in February (I don’t usually time my writing, lurking members of
any writerly dork patrol! Please have mercy... This is probably the
only instance I have.) in response to an artwork about a pineapple. The
painting made me think of how so many Indonesian women carry some kind
of passed-around myth about how eating pineapples can effect vaginal
health, some say positively, others negatively. I always thought that
was kind of hilarious – but to be honest, have subconsciously avoided
ingesting pineapples more often than not, because of these myths.
What I love about the final poem's incarnation is actually how the
submission process to Transom itself inadvertently caused a change: I
don’t remember “All the menace of such myth” being in italics, but when
the poem was accepted, I saw that the line was suddenly in italics, and
that made it So. Much. Better. Happenstance, coincidence, a pineapple
spirit deciding to edit the poem to its liking – you decide. So what
that taught me was that you can be as relieved as you want about a poem
coming out, for once, “fully formed,” but there is always the
overwhelming likelihood that the poem itself knows what's better for
it, and how you and it can improve.