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Q&A with poet Dara-Lyn Shrager

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Poet Dara-Lyn Shrager has joined WOW for retreats in Borestone Mountain, Maine and Marrakech, Morocco. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and is the co-founder and editor of Radar Poetry. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and a BA from Smith College. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many journals, including Southern Humanities Review, Barn Owl Review, Salamander, Yemassee, Whiskey Island, Tinderbox, and Nashville Review. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Philadelphia Magazine. Learn more at: www.daralynshrager.com. 

Q. What were your influences/inspiration for your poetry book, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee?

Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee is mostly a narrative in lyric form. I wanted to tell the story of a woman's experience as a daughter, mother and citizen in the natural world.

Q. Tell us about your time as poet-in-residence at the Princeton Public Library (i.e. projects or events, or how it helped you).

Being the inaugural poet-in-residence at Princeton Public Library was pure joy. I felt challenged by the task of developing programming for children and adults. Making poetry feel accessible to people with different levels of writing experience was extremely rewarding for me. I have been invited back to teach at the library again this fall and I cannot wait!

Q. What are you working on now?

I am writing a new book of poetry. So far, it contains a contained series of poems about one summer of my childhood and other poems that aren't as fixed to a particular time.

Q. What are some issues or thoughts that are top of mind right now that have an influence on poetry? And, perhaps, what role can artists hope to play in difficult times?

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Such a great question -- I have been working my way through a podcast series called "Commonplace: Conversations with Poets and Other People". The brilliant creator and host, Rachel Zucker, asks a lot of very difficult questions. For me, the most affecting thread of these conversations has been around the issue of responsibility. By that I mean: what is the poet's responsibility as an artist? We chronicle the times in which we live by writing poetry. What do we include and what do we omit? Or: how thoughtfully am I looking at my assumptions and biases and how many of the hard questions do I ask myself about my own work? If this sounds like a jumbled mess, listen to the Commonplace conversation with CA Conrad. They distill this concept down quiet nicely. 

Q. What did you expect from attending a WOW retreat, and how was the outcome different from/similar to what you anticipated?

I joined WOW for Maine and Marrakech. Both retreats were nourishing. Truth be told, I didn't write a lot of keepers on retreat. But I listened well, learned new things, played and laughed and ate good food. I met powerful women who became my friends. And after that, I went home and wrote the good stuff!