Almost all of my poems go through some rendition of strict meter and rhyme—a result of being a third-generation poet, with a long legacy of formalism in my blood. Even though the classical form is usually broken apart by the final revision, this process hopefully allows some of the musicality and echo to remain. Many contemporary poets inspire me, but I always return to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, Lucille Clifton, Denise Levertov, and Emily Dickinson.
—Carve Interview, Fall 2019
Rebecca Irene's work is published or forthcoming in Spillway, Parentheses Journal, RHINO, Pidgeonholes, Carve Magazine, Juked, The Atlanta Review, Typehouse Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal, *82 Review, Amaryllis, Dime Show Review, Balancing Act 2, and elsewhere. Her latest craft essay, "Poem as Suitcase," can be found at Typehouse Magazine.
She received a 2018 fellowship from the Norton Island Artist Program, where she lived in a remote log cabin, and moved her first-book manuscript, Weigheth The Worth, closer to completion. 2019 residencies were granted from SAFTA, and Hewnoaks. She was selected, by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, to be a 2020 Fellow at Monson Arts.
"Stay," in Typehouse Magazine, Spring 2019
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool
returneth to his folly. – Proverbs 26:11 KJV
When I taught the Bible, I was in love
with Solomon – Poet. Ruler. Lover.
Until I discovered that he enjoyed
watching dogs scavenge the dead.
of carcass in the teeth of want.
I was well suited for conversion,
developed the face of a martyred
saint. I asked women to church
on street corners, buses, & subways.
Pleaded in cafes, pools, & bars.
Whenever I taught Solomon,
I disremembered his 700 wives,
& 300 concubines. I kept my doubts
to myself, shared Solomon’s verse
in strident tones. Taught with symbols:
fool as woman, folly as sin. As a dog
returneth to her vomit, so a woman
returneth to her sin. I imagined Solomon,
freed from lusts, at long last, at the right
hand of our Lord & Savior, approved.
The thrill of saving souls was like no other.
Chosen. Redeemer of the lost. I forgave
each confessor, offered her repentance,
offered the sacred scriptures of Solomon
as solace, baptized with song, & gazed
into her eyes. As Solomon must have
after each new battle. Bathed, sated,
resplendent in royal righteousness,
with new flesh by his side. Some of those
I studied the Bible with remain faithful.
Zealous. They still call me their spiritual
mother, & pray for my lost soul. Sometimes,
I wish I could return to them, find faith’s
certainty again, but that was so long ago –
I was unable to stay.
"Tract," forthcoming in Tebot Bach-Spillway #29
"Insufficient," forthcoming in RHINO 2021
"Inchworm," forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, 2021
"Hunger the Laurel," & "Not Allowed in This Poem," Pidgeonholes, October 2020
"Cattails," in Carve Magazine, Fall 2019
Interview with Alyssa Arns, October 2019
Like the cattails, we are all a partial sum of our experiences and environment. My core colors are the perpetual new girl at school, Paris cafes, NYC black-box theatres, moleskines, Viarco pencils, and salt-water spray.
I have thin skin; the world breaks me in a multitude of ways. During these dark political times, in an era of global warming, hate speech, and intolerance, reading the news can seem like a lesson in endurance. Art mends me. My husband and sons mend me. My writing community mends me. This cycle of breaking and restoring allows us to hold pain in one hand, and love in the other. And I believe love always triumphs in the end.
"Dear Cicada (or Diatribe in a Favorite Childhood Tree)," in Juked Magazine, August 2019
"The Walk to School," in Burningword Literary Journal, July 2018
"Side Work," in Dime Show Review, April 2018