Diana Arterian is a working author and poet who was gracious enough to appear at Lane Community College for a poetry reading. Beyond writing, Arterian serves as poetry editor at Noemi Press and is a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. In her interview, Arterian provides insight into what utilizing a creative degree looks like in modern society.
What does literary success look like to you?
I will think “I just need to get an essay published on The Poetry Foundation website,” and then when I attain that goal I’ve already taken up another. Those who are able to make interventions and inventions in their genre, operating with an ethics for those outside their own identities, and also having a rich personal life—those, to me, are the markers of “success.” If one is reaching people through their work and doing it with care, what more can an author ask for?
What, according to you, makes poetry special as a genre?
Poetry is the human’s most ancient creative form, save for painting. Rhyme and meter was how one remembered the poem, even if it was quite long. As poetry developed, the roaming poet/bard/troubairitz/griot/guslar/etc. was a source of story, music, history, morality, philosophy, entertainment—a role that has since fractured into many different figures in our modern moment. As a form as ancient as it is, it has manifested itself in innumerable ways (epic, ghazal, sonnet, free verse) and contained innumerable topics (grief, love, war, ecstasy, the unnamable). Poetry is something that continues to undergo transmutation, shifting to contain whatever we ask it to sustain. It doesn’t adhere to the rules often imposed upon prose in any of its forms. Poetry’s plasticity is what is so thrilling to me. It’s ancient history, all over the world, illustrates is vitality and urgency—and why we must continue to pay attention to it as a form of art.
What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Americans (and other nationalities, too) are becoming more and more compelled by aesthetics and images—people spend half their day looking at feeds, reading less. Beyond this, considering what the literary world is like right now and the genre of the text, a title and cover can be even make-or-break. I have some angst about my titles, as they are either long and/or difficult to pronounce. I’ve helped myself, however, by having some great covers (I think). Locating a piece of art that engages the ideas or feelings of a text, as well as getting a fabulous designer, can make such an impact.