Ask a Poet: Marina Carreira

This fall, we’re hosting a High School Regional Mini-Festival at the Paul Robeson Center in Newark. Through readings and performances, Q&As and discussions, a group of poets will engage with hundreds of Newark high school students over the course of one school day in October.

For the next several weeks, we will be featuring short Q&As with some of the participating poets on the Dodge Blog each Friday. This week, we’re talking to Marina Carreira. 

Marina Carreira is a Luso-American writer from Newark, NJ. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University, and is curator of “Brick City Speaks,” a monthly reading series in Newark. Marina’s chapbook, “I Sing to That Bird Knowing He Won’t Sing Back” was published May 2017 by Finishing Line Press. Her work is featured in Paterson Literary Review, The Acentos Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Hinchas de Poesia, among others.

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author photo 2017What is something you have recently discovered about poetry?

Poetry has always been a way for me to process experience, particularly sadness and joy. Most recently however, it has been a mode I employ to process trauma. Poetry has a way of revealing the many ways trauma affects us physically, spiritually, emotionally, and even politically. Poetry is literally helping me cope with some of the hardest moments in my life right now.

What is a misconception about poetry that bothers you? Why?

That it is an elitist art form.

Poetry is one of the earliest forms of proletariat, grassroots artistic and political expression. It has been around since biblical times (Songs of Solomon, Psalms), used as a means of relaying oral history by many indigenous peoples and as the essential mode of storytelling in hip-hop. Poetry has always belonged to the people, so when I see it being eye-rolled and dismissed as a “bougie” or “hipster” art form, I laugh at that. It’s the anti-thesis of both, I think.

Have you ever written anything you were afraid to share?

I used to be afraid to share anything I wrote until I started the Rutgers-Newark MFA and ended up starting my own reading series/open mic shortly after. I truly believe that when a poem is “done”, it no longer belongs to you, but to the world.

With that in mind, I read my work knowing the poems are not about me anymore but the collective “we”: my family, my friends, comrades and extended immigrant/other-American, activist, and queer communities.

What was your experience with poetry in high school? If you wrote poetry as a teenager, who were your influences then and what did you write about?

I was already writing (truly, awful, angst-ridden) poems by freshman year, mostly work emulating Dickinson, Angelou, Neruda, and Jewel (yes, the country/pop singer, lol).

Music also inspired me to write, everyone from Mary J. Blige to Joan Baez to The Cranberries and Jay-Z. But it wasn’t until the beautiful Laura Boss came to my high school as a Dodge poet during my senior year Honors English class that I knew I wanted to be a “professional” poet.

Do you have any advice for those who are trying to help students engage with poetry?

Teach Shakespeare alongside Ocean Vuong, Robert Frost together with Kaveh Akbar, Plath in conjunction with Claudia Cortese, Khalil Gibran with Andrea Gibson, Bishop beside Natalie Diaz.

Bridging the gap between “classic” poets and (the future classic) poets of today will really instill the idea of poetry being for everyone, that it can speak to every experience, therefore making it accessible to populations of all kinds, especially younger readers.

Do you have a favorite memory from time spent in Newark?

Grabbing a Dairy Queen soft-serve Vanilla cone before going to Riverbank Park every Sunday with my Grandfather, rest his soul.

Do you have a favorite spot in Newark? A park, restaurant, open mic venue, etc.?

I love Casa D’ Paco for tapas, Pao da Terra for coffee, Military Park for laying on the grass/the Dodge summer reading series, and Gateway Project Spaces for art.

What are you currently reading?

Two amazing new poetry collections: Darla Himeles’ chapbook “Flesh Enough” and Lynne McEniry’s “Some Other Wet Landscape”. Shout out to Get Fresh Books!

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