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Your poem “troy moon” ends with the speaker “bit[ing] on” “something like prayer” as a reaction against a request to “write song.” But this voice is somewhat adversarial, which is a mode more familiar in song than in prayer. What territory does this poem stake out between those two traditions of song and prayer?

Thank you, your question is incredibly intelligent, and I’m going to have to say that I don’t know what territory this poem stakes out between song and prayer – perhaps someone else could say – but part of my work that I have staked out for myself as a writer is wrestling with what constitutes lyric as I attempt to express subject matter that has not been handed down to me as “poetic.” When I wrote this poem, I wasn’t thinking of how to resolve the request – it just happened kinetically. It hadn’t occurred to me that the voice is somewhat adversarial, but now that you mention it, I can see how it could be experienced this way. I feel it as desirous and challenging. I experience the phrases you reference as a kind of call and response. There’s an honest question – how do I make music, within the tradition of song – while expressing feelings and subject matter that don’t fit regularly into the poetic tradition of lyric? I do not meant for “prayer” to connote any conventional religious traditions. The tension, I think, is produced between the two textures, “bite” and “prayer” – and bringing these opposites together can be likened to synesthesia; in the end, a harmonic discordancy rules the day. Your question delves to the heart of my matter, I think: I often seek ways to write lyric while also challenging my preconceived notions of what is lyric (song/music).

Looking again closely now, it can be said that somewhere between song and prayer is psalm – “something like prayer” – but “to bite” stops breath and therefore the song. The singer has to work hard with sounds like “b” and “t” in “bite,” the plosives in those consonants potentially presenting problems for singers, and the poem ends with them – in this way, the singer is indeed “singing against song.”