Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Craig Santos Perez interviews Valyntina Grenier

Craig Santos Perez: how would you describe your aesthetic style? how has this style developed over the years?

Valyntina Grenier: I'd describe my poetic sensibility as earnest. My aesthetic style-- modern lyric? Rhythmic sound patterning is a significant generative, as well as editorial, force in my writing. Many of the poems I've written are a mystery to me. My style is continually developing esp. in the revision process; this means everything from the look of the poem on the page to the poem in the air. Each time I read a poem aloud, particularly to different people, I learn something new about it.

CSP: when did you begin writing poetry? where did you study? who do you consider your teachers/influences?

VG: I began writing poetry in primary school. I was introduced to poetry as a child. My grandmother Gail wrote poetry and my grandmother Sue entertained her children and grandchildren with poems and songs she had memorised.

CSP: can you talk about the developments of Back Room Live: the reading series, the magazine, the online issues?

VG: Well, thinking about it now, I guess I'm compelled to write poetry because Gail did and to make writing happen among peope because Sue did. I curated Back Room Live, a monthly multi-genre reading series, at Mc Nally's in Oakland, for two years. The magazine publishes writers who have read. I started to continue the monthly series online.

CSP: since you are a visual artist as well--can you describe the intersections / divergences between your visual work and your poetry?

VG: Making visual work is guided by color and the line. The intersection between the two is in the potential for color, line, language and voice to generate ideas and emotion. I called my first 3 annual shows at the Lanesplitter "Autopoiesis" because each painting individually generates a story and, taken together, creates a larger narrative. My current show is less symbolic.

Craig Santos Perez is the co-founder of Achiote Press and author of several chapbooks, including all with ocean views (Overhere Press, 2007) and preterrain (Corollary Press, 2008). His first book, from unincorporated territory, has just been published by Tinfish Press. His poetry, essays, reviews, and translations have appeared in New American Writing, The Colorado Review, Pleiades, The Denver Quarterly, Jacket, Sentence, and Rain Taxi, among others. He is currently a PhD candidate in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Valyntina Grenier is a poet and painter living in Oakland Ca. and Tucson Az. She edits and You can see her most recent paintings live at Lanesplitter- Temescal in Oakland July 1st - 31st. She also has some poems and images up at

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