Poets in Conversation: Alice Derry and Kathryn Hunt

Alice Derry invited me to read with her on July 26 at Northwind Arts Center Reading Series, in Port Townsend, at 7 p.m. We’ll be celebrating the publication of Alice’s fifth book of poems, Hunger.

I count Alice Derry as a friend and I’m grateful to her for having asked me to join her. Alice’s poetry is insightful, rich in revelation and honesty and the precious metals of real labor; always searching; and marked by fierce and intimate observation of the world around her, that is to say, of the people and places that have laid claim to her heart.

Alice Derry’s website alicederry.com

This is what Alice wrote about her new book Hunger and her earlier work:

Hunger, my fifth volume of poems, will appear from MoonPath Press of Tillamook, Oregon, in 2018. The book began as a response to the physical hunger which was a constant in my childhood, but the poems quickly grew beyond that narrow scope to address hungers of all kinds, especially the metaphorical hunger of longing as expressed in “The Extravagance of Our Longing,” the title of section three and of one of the poems in the section.

The book contains five parts. It has a feminist edge, the second section titled “Stealing from Young Women,” how various hungers in the world take from the lives of others and from the innocent, especially women. Section three contains poems I wrote after a family trip to Greece in 2007. I have marketed that section as a chapbook; it was twice a finalist in contests. Sections four and five address the many hungers of my childhood and my life as a mother, which continues in a different form now that my child is thirty with her own child. Social justice has always been a part of my writing; several poems in the manuscript pay attention to events in various tribal histories, seen from a personal point of view. My father took us kids to many reservations throughout the West when I was young. Physical hunger always accompanied these trips.

Lucille Clifton writes this about hunger:


and if I could name this

in a frenzy of understanding

it would be called hunger

that sits in a woman’s spaces


The book finds its life in the spaces Clifton evokes.

Molly Gloss writes of Hunger:

Alice Derry’s Hunger is so beautiful, so dense with layers of meaning and the weight of the unspoken, so rich in its language and rhythm, that the book as a whole just frankly left me breathless. These are poems of enraged tenderness, of estrangement, of questioning and seeking, poems of family and childhood, poems of loss and yearning and sustenance—poems exploring every nuance of what we mean by hunger. I could hear in them, see in them, voices and shadows from my own life– “Words leave their source/ and in their new landscape, speak differently.”  I savored every poem, and I know I will be returning to this book again and again, peeling back the layers.

A short bio

Hunger is Alice Derry’s fifth volume of poetry (MoonPath Press, 2018). Tremolo was published by Red Hen Press in 2012. As manuscript, it received a 2011 Washington Artist Trust Award. Strangers To Their Courage, from Louisiana State University Press, 2001, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. With Tess Gallagher and others, Derry helped stage a month-long 75th birthday celebration for Raymond Carver in 2013, delivering the event’s keynote address. Derry has two previous collections, Stages of Twilight (1986, chosen by Raymond Carver) and Clearwater (1997, Blue Begonia Press). A chapbook of translations from Rainer Rilke appeared in 2002. Derry taught English and German at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington, for twenty-nine years, where she co-directed the Foothills Writers’ Series. In 2017 she was Writer-in-Residence at Peninsula College.

Alice Derry’s website alicederry.com




Posted by Kathryn_Hunt

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