Anne-Sophie Olsen will be our Poetry Editor for Fall 2018. She is a junior majoring in English. Read her latest poem, “In Colorado Springs,” in our Spring 2018 issue!
Zachary Lee (Z): We’re so happy that you’re returning as our Poetry Editor! In addition to crafting your own beautiful compositions you helped others perfect their poems as well. What are you most looking forward to about returning? What are some of your trepidations?
Anne-Sophie Olsen (A): Finding the language which best captures a vision of meaning is incredibly satisfying. So it’s not a bad gig, being Poetry Editor: I get to do this thing that I love by writing my own poetry and helping others develop their craft. One concern I have is that because Claritas is not an artistic journal, our poetry is in danger of being seen as “filler”; these days, if it’s not “academic” poetry, it’s usually not regarded worthwhile. But nonfiction and creative writing have much grounds for dialogue and complementarity, which is something readers will hopefully discover.
Z: Who are some poets that you admire / get most inspired by? What are some books or pieces of advice you can give to people who want to write their own poetry?
A: My favorite poet is Gerard Manley Hopkins. His use of language is stunning, because it is about the reality of romance: when one is confidently in love, one will not praise, confide, or mourn with wishy-washy language, for real love is rich and full-bodied. And Hopkins was a lover of his God — he knew his Beloved to be a lighthouse of confidence, and was thus free to revel and rage to Him about the seas on which he sailed, without fear of falling from favor. My advice is this: read Hopkins. Learn how he loves, or find another writer who loves how he loves. Learn how you love, in times of grit, jubilation, tedium, and sorrow. And then write it.
Z: I really enjoy the theme for this upcoming issue; the act of consuming is so normalized that people rarely consider the effects, sometimes negative, of not controlling one’s appetite. How do you think Claritas can uniquely contribute to this conversation? Why does Claritas’ presence on campus become more important now than ever?
A: When it comes to the appetite, Christianity has this fact in common with everyone who’s ever eaten food: it knows that there are rules, whether or not you like them. You can’t consume only junk food and expect stamina and strength. Similarly, you can’t feed your heart and mind with whatever you feel like and expect happiness. Surprisingly, that logic is pretty controversial these days, but if it’s true, then it matters that we learn how to control all our appetites: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. And that is the logic with which Claritas sallies forth.
Z: Sadly, a common statement is that religion and art are mutually exclusive, mainly because religion “stifles” and “restricts” creativity. Clearly people who say this have not read one of your poems! As a Christian, how do you feel that your faith adds to your creativity? What are the ways you express it through your work in a way that does not feel hackneyed or forced but genuine and organic?
A: The day I cease to recognize the supreme beauty of God’s creation will be the day I forget how to use my imagination. The poet who sees God’s hand in everything, or at least recognizes that the world does not revolve around her, will be a humble poet, and the humble poet has the best imagination. For the proud poet can only think about how she would prefer the world to be, and so will look at the sky and say it is not blue enough, or that it reminds her of her parents’ wallpaper, which she loathes, and which has all these horrible stains on it, and she wouldn’t let those stains stay like that. But the humble poet marvels at the world as it is, and will look at the sky and say it is vast and pale like a haze over the sea, or that it blushes a wonderful rose where the far-off land has risen to meet it. You can decide which attitude creates more beautiful verse.
Z: Okay last one: if you had a whole 24 hours of free time, what would you do with it?
A: 24 hours!? In real life, I’m very boring with my free time, so I’ll conjure up some imaginative prospects: I would meet Donna Tartt and Dana Gioia (both writers) and take them out for brunch. I would visit Sealand, and make it habitable for plants. I would take flying lessons from a hawk, because flying sounds sublime.