Many thanks to Lacy Arnett and Audrey Camp, and to the editors of Pacifica Literary Review, for the following interview:
LACY ARNETT, AUDREY CAMP, & VALERIE BANDURA
Lacy: Your new collection, Freak Show, seems thematically eclectic. You write about your schizophrenic sister, your family’s experience emigrating from the former Soviet Union to the United States, and then various conjoined twins in the news. So I’m wondering: how did you select the poetry for this collection?
Valerie: I’m not sure I chose the poems as much as they chose me. My family emigrated in 1979 and my sister had her first schizophrenic episode in 1981. Coming to a country where I didn’t know the language, a Jew among Irish Catholics, a “commie” during the Cold War, and seeing my sister fractured by a severe mental illness are subjects that share for me the same thematic root of fractured identity…
Come join me for a reading
from FREAK SHOW and HUMAN INTEREST
Wednesday, April 16th at 7 PM
at Tempe Center for the Arts for the Tempe Poetry in April Series.
My poem “Now You See It Now You Don’t” on Verse Daily January 14, 2014.
“Even though the impetus for the poems may have originated in that real world memory kind of context, how they’re shaped is entirely not memoir… I would never want this book to be read as a kind of truth of what actually happened.” — Valerie, on whether Freak Show, with all it’s autobiographical components, is really “a poet’s memoir”
My sister hears voices. They call her godawful names. She also has visions, of Jesus in the tv. As a poet, using the same word we associate with madness to describe an essential quality, is, well, freaky.
“Narcissism and Shame,” my essay about writing FREAK SHOW that appeared on Jaded Ibis Productions:
I’ll be teaching a four-week poetry workshop in October 2013
“Poetic Calisthenics: Four ways to stretch what you now about writing poems”
through the Piper Writer’s Studio at the Virginia Piper Center for Creative Writing,