BY LIZ AXELROD
Silvia Bonilla is a goddess who uses her power to create mystical worlds on the page. Her book, An Animal Startled By The Mechanisms Of Life, (Deadly Chaps Press) is filled with lush, visceral poems that evoke the pleasures and terrors of childhood, and the painful process of growth. It opens on the mother and the family then moves into the feminine, into lust and redemption. Her poems illuminate the fears that make us whole, and expose our connection to the ravishing tortures of time. Her lines are short, potent and passionate; her vision is clear. So many brilliant emotions fill this book, it’s as if Bonilla is an Empath, tapping into our desires. In A Place Where Gods Are Born (one of my favorites) her heat and depth are so beautifully concentrated:
I keep my wishes in his mouth.
Are you for real? He says as we settle in rough
A punctured sun narrows our bodies,
his fingers swaddle their winds inside me.
From memories of the past to the anticipation of what’s to come, we are never far from our desires, and Bonilla knows well how to deftly tap into them. I had the pleasure of discussing poetry and process with Silvia in April:
Luna: An Animal Startled By The Mechanism Of Life was your first book publication out of Grad School, can you tell us a little bit about how the book came to be? Was it formed while you were pursuing the MFA or did it come after?
SB: I was finishing my MFA at The New School when my father’s health started to decline, and I began writing a lot of poems about death and exploring the past. I believe that is normal reaction, looking into our ancestors, when we feel that those familial connections are going to be interrupted. The first section of the book is dedicated to my need to pull that connection back and to acknowledge the sentiment.
Luna: Your poems create worlds within lovely worlds of nature, feminine power, seduction and growth, with family and individuality looming large as key concepts. How do you see yourself in this mix? Do you find it difficult to separate daughter from mother and mother from poet, or they naturally interconnect?
SB: As writers we borrow from different realities, but my writing is not necessarily domestic. The world offers constant stimulation, and capturing that is my biggest concern. The process of interconnecting, to use your word, happens naturally. Often one of these realities, or all, will move my spirit to an internal protest and then I need only to find it a voice.
Luna: Do you have a system or set time to write? What are you currently working on?
SB: I usually have the ideas or prospects in my head for a few days and write them down only when I feel the urge to do so, and they may be accurate or very distinct from the original thought. Now, I’m trying to be more diligent and so I write for forty-five minutes a day with no preconception.
Luna: And lastly, what are you reading? What poets would you recommend to Luna Luna readers?
SB: I’ve been reading Lucille Clifton and Jeffrey Yang. I would also recommend Octavio Paz.
Mother is a picture
I escape into the reddish glow
of her polaroid. Unleash her scarf
and dark glasses. I let my gaze fall on
her clavicle, throbbing in the key-hole
collar of her dress. Behind her, a grove
of leafless trees. I give my good doll
and pull her out.
Liz Axelrod received her MFA from the New School in 2013. She writes poems, book reviews, essays, fiction and anything her pointed pen finger deems relevant. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, Counterpunch, Nap Magazine, Yes Poetry, The Ampersand Review, and more. Her Chapbook "Go Ask Alice" was chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Finishing Line Press New Woman's Voices Competition and will be published in March, 2016. She is an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Westchester Community College, a book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine, and co-host and curator of the Cedermere Reading Series in the home of William Cullen Bryant. Find her here: www.yourmoonsmine.com