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Aidan Forster, Emily O'Neill, and John Allen Taylor with The Adroit Journal!

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Aidan Forster discusses his book Exit Pastoral in an interview with Elena Senechal-Becker at Adroit !

Aidan Forster reveals the emotional influences behind his chapbook. Check out this intimate conversation in which Forster discusses what it means to grow up queer in a rural space and how Exit Pastoral is a complicated love letter to South Carolina.

"South Carolina is so important to me as a site of poetic genesis, because I think initially came to it as sort of an antidote to the internalized shame that I encountered in that landscape. And I always maintained, and I still maintain, a complicated relationship to it. Because on the one hand, I’m very attached to Carolina, at least on a topographical level. It will always be home: the landscape is imprinted, the dramaturgy of the place has become a template of linguistic possibility for me. I have a very ecological relationship in my language to that space, and I love it. But I struggled with the sense that the place that I loved could not reciprocate my intimacy, could not accommodate queerness, could not accommodate the forms of desire I endorsed and experienced. I tried to channel that sense of a double geography of feeling in these poems, both that this was a place where the speakers, these young queer boys, admired and adored but also felt incredibly dislocated within. In the collection I was asking, How can I harness the swelter of this space, all these different sites of material recombination, that overgrowth, that gothic element of the landscape in these poems? And how can I turn this place that at times, socially-culturally-phenomenologically, is sort of a regime of hostility, into a regime of beauty? And that was definitely what motivated me, because I still feel very attached to that place. I feel like it’s one of the queerest spaces I’ve ever been in, not just because I was queer and I was there, but in terms of the tenacity of space and of intimacy in a place that is very much designed to choke it out."

Forster's poetry uplifts the soul and his words reel in a Southern landscape for us to rediscover. We are incredibly grateful to Aidan Forster for letting us peer inside a unique universe that ceases to let go of our hearts.

Read Elena Senechal-Becker's full conversation with Aidan Forster at The Adroit Journal and pick up a copy of Exit Pastoral to experience it for yourself!


Emily O'Neill shares the creative process of her poetry in The Adroit Journal's ongoing feature "How I Wrote."

O'Neill lets us peek into how she created "Without Conferring, We Both Ask For A Smoke & Dagger" from a falling knife has no handle. She shares with us a sense of the symbiotic relationship between food and drink and the sometimes unnerving nature of dating life.

"The title of the poem refers to us ordering the same beer without talking about what we wanted first, and I thought of it as a road into talking about how sometimes desire is mirrored without desire ever being explicitly declared. Telling someone your feelings is such a huge risk, mostly because there’s always a wide chance they don’t feel the same way or aren’t ready to admit they do. Even though the poem is almost all nervous energy about waiting too long to discuss what might happen between interested parties, I wanted to generate what felt like a kind of ease. The speaker is making a pile of memories in common, asking the person at the other end of the letter to remember how much they already share, even though things still feel so new."

O'Neill's poetry explores the unique relationships we share with the delicacies we eat. She takes us into a world of restaurants and bars, the places where some of her speaker's potent bonds have formed and allows us to navigate relationships—new and old. Thank you Emily, for sharing these intimate moments with us!

To read the rest of O'Neill's insights into the creation of her poem, visit The Adroit Journal. If you would like to read more of her poetry, pick up a copy of a falling knife has no handle today!


John Allen Taylor's conversation with The Adroit Journal is riveting!

In an interview with Ben Togut, Taylor unveils some of the thought process behind the creation of his chapbook. Through their conversation, we learn some of the unique ways in which his poems in Unmonstrous came to be ordered.

"The last poem in the book, “How,” I wrote before many of the other poems in the book. In a sense, when I wrote it, it was sort of this target I was shooting for, this end point. There were a couple times in the editing of the book where we were actually flipping back and forth between the last poem, “How,” and the second to last poem, “Love Poem for Marie,” this hand-wringing about who has the last word, the speaker focused on the abuser or the speaker focused on the partner or lover. It was a really hard decision to make, and the decision to end it with “How” gets a little bit closer to the heart of the book, in that these issues of trauma and revisiting trauma and trauma revisiting the individual is cyclical and also that health is possible and attainable. But I felt these experiences and how trauma inhabits the body over and over and over again were important to represent in the structure of the book. Even though “How” was a poem that I wrote early on, it did feel very much like a destination for the book, somewhere I was trying to get the book to. When I wrote it, it felt very much liker a moment of victory for the speaker."

For Taylor, every detail must complement the narrative of his chapbook. From the creation of his first poem to his last, Unmonstrous is designed to take us on a journey through sexual abuse, trauma, and healing. Thank you John Allen Taylor for captivating us with how your remarkable poetry is made.

To read John Allen Taylor's poetry, grab a copy of Unmonstrous. For the full conversation with Ben Togut, visit The Adroit Journal.


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