30th Anniversary Alumni Appreciation: Jenn Carter
Èlan Literary Magazine is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. In honor of our longevity we are posting work from our editorial staff alumnus, which includes biographies, Q&A’s, and excerpts of their pieces.
How did your experience at DA influence your current artistic development?
It gave me the discipline to endure as an artist in the collegiate world. It gave me a home to fondly look back on, and gave me the strength to continue writing.
Trailer Park Aubade
(From Èlan 2013)
your smile has a yellow haze of
“good old days”,
the sunset over the drugstore
making out by
the dumpster, our initials
scrawled on the belly of a metal beast
empty beer cans.
bring back memories beneath
A slow dance to the hum
of moths orbiting florescent
You touch my hair,
nibble my ear and I
I shake you off
an indefinite hangover.
We stare out the window.
A series of white trailers stand
at attention like rusted
submarines, and you salute
then with your naked frame.
A pink tricycle wheel
A mutt chews
Last night’s take out.
A patriotic bird house
with chipped paint
(Performed at the Èlan 30th Anniversary Alumni Reading)
Anne Sexton says it only matters how I remember him. The man he actually was is irrelevant. Sexton curls her knees to her chest and reads Stanislavsky. She drives down Tennessee Street, a dream catcher and a rosary hanging from her rear view mirror. I drive by her in a 1987 Ford Ranger we miss each other in our hurried passing.
I’m in a chapel cleaning windows. He asks me how many windows I cleaned. I mumble about the pollen. He doesn’t know about all the poets driving around in this town. How we call each other late at night from the cold side of our pillows. Instead on the couch he tells me my poetry is my music.
He doesn’t know Anne Sexton is a method actor at the podium. She says by the time she is at the last line of her work she is a naked woman. Her voice becomes small and exposed.
I drive away from his house blasting my actual music so the last pieces of me can bleed into his life as he closes the front door.
I roll down the windows open the sun roof at night pretend there is a texture to the air in this town. There is mystery in this fluorescent neighborhood.
I park my car outside my apartment. Anne is writing
from my third floor bedroom. She is writing my shadow against a dimly lit ballad.
I am on repeat driving him home, watching him slide out of the car almost always pulling him back.
What do you wish someone had told you about the experience of being a creative writer at DA when you were a student? (Think about things you wish you’d appreciated more when you were here that you now realize brought you value).
My teachers always said, “Never again will you have a community quite like this,” and they were right. And I have been a creative writing major at FSU. I hope to be in a poetry MFA program one day. But I was writing with my peers at DA (most of them) since I was eleven. We were learning to read, and write- we were forming what language and art meant to us for literally the first time. And realizing that is key, but something that doesn’t come fully until you have the perspective of leaving.