1. Chapbook Questionnaire: Sarah Certa // RED PAPER HEART

    Sarah Certa is our Director of Social Media and the author of RED PAPER HEART, a limited hand-bound collection of eight poems from Zoo Cake Press. Usually she’s behind the scenes but this time we want to hear from her. Read on, Dear Ones. 


    What is poetry? Part 2: Why do you write it?

    Poetry is a mystery to me. I don’t understand it. I also don’t really know why I write it. I don’t know why I started writing it, at age 12, short verses about how beautiful the flowers are. I do remember being 14 and really depressed about a boy, and how poetry just happened to be the way I channeled those feelings. It felt good, like crying. It’s very personal and selfish, why I write – mainly I do it to make myself feel better, to discover something about myself, to transcribe the rolls of film always moving through me, the voices and the colors and the feelings. To make myself. These days I have to do it to keep myself sane. Anne Sexton said something like, “The thing that seems to be saving me is the poetry” – that’s why I write it.

    Lately I’ve been wondering why poetry and why not essay or some other form of prose, and I think it has something to do with the energy I get from line breaks, how the long and short lines seem to mimic the currents of energy running through my body, the stop and go of my heart. Also because I can lie if I want to and don’t have to worry about staying within the realm of non-fiction if I don’t feel like it. 

    What makes this a chapbook & not just a pile of poems?

    Together and in this order these eight poems make a chapbook because there are threads that run through them and hold them together like a group of friends. They are love poems but I didn’t want them to be just one type of love poem about one person because that wouldn’t be accurate— I have more than one friend!—and my relationship with Love is more confusing than that (of course!), and so I wanted to be sure to include a poem about jealousy and a poem about falling out of love and a poem about desire, etc etc. I feel like I’m always tragically falling in and/or out of love and these poems approach the various dimensions of this.  

    Are there any particular pronounced influences / guiding lights for the poems in this chapbook, or is it just the usual jumble & tangle (also, if so: what IS your usual jumble & tangle)?

    All of these poems existed before the chapbook (like this one and these two). I never thought I could write a chapbook, because my poems themselves feel so long and I couldn’t imagine writing only a chapbook-length manuscript, and I guess I didn’t, really. When the editors at Zoo Cake Press contacted me and asked if I had a small collection of poems they could publish, I looked through everything I had and started putting a few things together and then somehow RED PAPER HEART manifested itself. I sent the eight poems to Zoo Cake and they did some re-ordering and it just clicked (real quick — can we get a hell yes for Zoo Cake? They are a new press and I was a bit nervous about this but as someone who is very picky about aesthetics and design I just want to say that they did amazing work with my poems and invited me to be a part of the entire process — so rad. Go love them here!).

    I’ve been working on a full-length manuscript for over a year (which has been an entirely different process) and some of these poems are from there, yet I realized they can exist outside of the full-length in this way, because of their common threads. But I don’t get to decide on the threads. It’s a lot of listening, a lot of having to be honest with myself, and so I’d say my overall jumble and tangle is just writing a lot and seeing what’s there, what creature inside me wants out!

    Gosh do I sound possessed? No wonder my parents are scared. 


    find Sarah online here.


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