Interview with Cyndi Gacosta
1/The house where we had family reunions, The fragile skin of an old woman, and A Quiet Pandemonium share similar imagery–mouths, red, references to nature and rebirth. Do you envision them as a triptych? Are there specific qualities that you hope a reader takes from each standing alone?
I didn’t intend for the three poems to be viewed as a triptych, however, I don’t reject the idea of them being viewed as one. Each poem stands alone, but they do have the same theme about loss and escape. In The fragile skin of an old woman the character deals with the loss of her youth because time had taken it away from her. So, as to avoid confronting the reality, she seeks comfort in sleep. In The house where we had family reunions, the house also lost its youth. It was abandoned and neglected and its purpose is gone. Nature now takes ownership of the house, but what it used to be still lingers on. Like the old woman, the house feels that loss and loses itself in sleep to escape the reality. Quiet Pandemonium is not as closely related to the other two poems. The piece is about losing one’s self control and giving in to the drunken lust and then falling into a “twilight stupor.”
I want the readers to be able to relate to the pieces, and see a fraction of themselves within the words like a blurry reflection in the pool. The fragile skin of an old woman and The house where we had family reunions reflect on almost every person’s natural fear of losing their youthfulness and sense of purpose, and approaching closer to death. This fear is shown through physical parts of the old woman and the house. But, like in the latter poem, there are still hopes of rebirth and a return to nature. From Quiet Pandemonium I want the readers to see a reflection of their wilder and animalistic side.
2/In The fragile skin of an old woman, the titular character’s lifetime reverses and surges forward within the span of the poem, which could be credited to the way you refer to her memories through color: “The red of her lips / The red of her dress / The red of her hair / The red of her virginity / The red of her sunburnt skin rough like coral reefs” Is your choice to recount her life in a single color–red, a departure from the usual golds that so often accompany memories in literature–representative of the way single decisions and occurrences can affect a person’s entire life?
The color red was meant to represent the character’s youth. In the poem she looks back nostalgically on how her lips and hair use to be red; the red dress that she use to wear; the color of the virginity that she lost as a young woman; and how her skin use to get sunburn when she goes out.
3/So many poems involve humanity’s enforced relationship with nature, but the characters that populate your poems interact effortlessly with their settings. Is that a reaction to the idea that humans are inherently separated from nature via civilization or does it stem from a more organic notion, e.g., we’re part of nature whether we choose to see that or not?
No matter how much we try to avoid, even convince ourselves that we are separate from nature, we are a part of nature. In The fragile skin of an old woman and The house where we had family reunions, the characters let sleep take over and sleep is the closest to death, and in death nature reclaims the body. In Quiet Pandemonium, lust for flesh is a natural feeling and it is the animalistic side of humans.
4/Sum up your work in apt in five words: go!
People can relate to it.
Cyndi Gacosta’s poems, The house where we had family reunions, The fragile skin of an old woman, and A Quiet Pandemonium appeared in the first print issue of apt, which can be purchased here.