From Desert Companion: "Bird of Prey" by Heather Lang
This past April, Heather Lang visited us here at KNPR. She read her poem, “Paradise, Nevada.”
Heather Lang teaches writing at Nevada State College, and is an editor for “The Literary Review,” which is published at her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
We thought we’d invite Heather back on the program to talk about another one of her poem, “Bird of Prey.”
(Heather Lang) Many years ago I was inspired to attempt to write a poem while I was on an airplane. And it was a disaster. It was a horrible poem. And that happens. I throw away a large percentage of what I write. You know, writing is also revision. Every time I was on an airplane I kept trying and I kept trying. This poem takes place largely on an airplane. That’s how this poem began. It’s also inspired by themes of time, loss, ideas of place, and explorations of different kinds of love.
(Carrie Kaufman) “Bird of Prey.” It’s a love poem and kind of a stalking poem at the same time.
(Heather Lang) (Laughs) That’s interesting. I guess I never thought about it that way. But, I supposed you’re right. Bird of prey, yes.
(Carrie Kaufman) And who is the bird of prey? Is it the airplane? Is it falling in love when you focus on someone?
(Heather Lang) That is what I had in mind that the bird of prey was the airplane. I also like the attention to sound – just “prey” in terms of the p-r-e-y and also the connotation of the p-r-a-y. And also the idea of an airplane being, in a way, a living entity because all of these people are together on it – people who might not have come together this way.
(Carrie Kaufman) The line, “…if we had been together on this flight, from New York to Las Vegas, would that have been enough time for me to change her mind?” if she had gone on this journey with you. Metaphorically, in your head, where were you going, to and where were you coming from, on that journey?
(Heather Lang) This section is actually based on a literal conversation I had with a wonderful woman when I was studying abroad in China. She was this fantastic lady who was sweet and kind and funny and caring. But she never got too close to anyone in our group or in my experience. Her reasoning was that she already had a good set of friends back at home and that she felt like she couldn’t stretch herself between those different people. So, she was reserved in that way. She was a fantastic human. I just wondered if I had been able to spend more time with her – kind of the concepts of spending time together and how that affects relationships and how you need a certain set of time to establish certain relationships. And the differences between new friendships and old friendships.
(Carrie Kaufman) Airplanes. Journeys. You’re going home to Wisconsin this summer. Does it take something out of you, or energize you, to return home?
(Heather Lang) For me, place is extremely important in terms of writing. I’m very inspired by my physical surroundings, and also the social atmosphere. So, returning to Wisconsin is important to me. I have a number of family members there. And it’s also where the people I’ve lost have lived. It does spark new ideas for me. And sometimes distance and then returning to a place can provide a new set of eyes, if you will.
"Betting on the Fight" by Heather Lang
Heather Lang, Poet
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