In June we published our first Featured Author, Sandra Bazzarelli! Here is the whole article and interview by Jenna Kildosher! Check out her blog at http://sandrabazzarelli.blogspot.com/
This month's featured writer is Sandra Bazzarelli for her piece, "McDonald's." Poetry can be a hard genre of literature to grasp. However, Sandra Bazzarelli's poem was chosen for its accessibility, as well as its creative, to the realm of poetry. Sandra displays her position as a first generation American as well as her parental relationship, or any parent-child relationship for that matter. A parent's criticism and self-contradiction, a conundrum we can all relate to, is exemplified through Bazzarelli's "McDonald's." An interview with the writer herself gives Instigatorzine an insight into the workings of Ms. Sandra Bazzarelli.
What type of literature do you mainly write? Would you say poetry is your main genre of writing? If not what type of writer would you consider yourself?
I think I do my best writing when I’m working with a fixed number of lines. This is probably why I gravitate toward poetry and songs. Shorter is better for me. I wrote a novel once. And it’s been constipating my hard drive for over 12 years. Frankly, I cannot begin to describe its awfulness to you. That would take too many lines. And collectively they would be, well, awful.
Some may find poetry to be intimidating because of ambiguity, or they just, “don't get it.” What would you say to someone who doesn't read poetry because they may not fully understand it?
I would probably say, “If you are not a poetry reader, then write poetry.” You will have a cleaner lens as a reader once you’ve been a writer. Not all poetry has to be woefully Hallmarkian. It’s a voluminous genre. Walt Whitman and Shel Silverstein are both poets, after all.
I found “McDonald's” a poem that would be easily accessible, because of its directness and humorous demeanor, to people who may misunderstand poetry, would you agree?
You’re right about its accessibility. It is definitely not an old school jazz musician of a poem. It doesn’t turn its back on its audience. It faces you because it hopes you’ll recognize something about yourself when you look at it. It’s likely funny because it’s relatable without being jokey. I personally find humor to be remarkably highbrow. I find poems about slitting your wrists on the bathroom floor to be so predictable and such a snore.
In your biography, you state you are a first generation American, we see this take part in your poem “McDonald's”. How does this take influence in your other works?
My family pops up in a lot of my writing, for better or worse. Mine is an American experience underscored by the fact that my parents are immigrants and their English is broken. My mother’s English is much better than my father’s, yes, but there has always been poetry in the way each of them speaks English. They’ve either had to use simple, choppy sentences, or they’ve had to simile and metaphor the shit out of what they didn’t have the precise words for. My mother, for example, would never say, “He has a pronounced chin.” Instead she’d say, “His chin. It’s like you can grab his ankles, turn him upside down, and dig in the dirt with it.”
“If you are not a poetry reader, then write poetry.” You will have a cleaner lens as a reader once you’ve been a writer. Not all poetry has to be woefully Hallmarkian. It’s a voluminous genre. Walt Whitman and Shel Silverstein are both poets, after all.”
Reading this poem we get an understanding of a part of the parent-child relationship, a parent's criticism and their self-contradiction. Was this something you wanted to depict?
I think I just wanted to sum up my father.
Criticism + self-contradiction + food = my father.
What did you want to portray in “McDonalds”?
I suppose I just wanted to portray how the everyday exchanges people have are really just comical, but profoundly telling, living poems. What you don’t know is that my father is a chef. So, in my family, we absolutely know the difference between good food and junk food. But McDonald’s, as you know, works in mysterious ways. Come to think of it, maybe I just wanted to portray the voodoo charms of McDonald’s French fries. And now I’m hungry.
Whenever I get McDonald's
my father has to stand over my shoulder
and make his usual comments.
"Looka whadda she's eat,"
he'll say to no one but me-
because I'm the only asshole there.
"No eata dis merda.
Dis food itsa everyting shit," he'll say.
I'll ask if he wants a French fry and he'll say no.
I'll ask him again and he won't answer.
I don't ask him a third time because
he is already eating my French fries.
Then he tears a ketchup packet open
with his teeth and squeezes
a Heinz pool out onto a napkin.
In go the French fries,
three, four, five at a time.
He is eating
all my shit.