This week we are excited to share Caitlin Scarano’s poem “To My Little Sister, Driving Drunk,” which was published in CALYX’s 27:3 issue.

Caitlin Scarano is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She was a finalist for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Eduardo Corral. She has two poetry chapbook. This winter, she will be an artist in residence at the Hinge Arts Residency program in Fergus Falls and the Artsmith’s 2016 Artist Residency on Orcas Island.

What piece/pieces are you working on now?

The other day I was walking home from the university where I take classes and teach, and I passed a house shrouded in yellow police tape. I thought the house had been the scene of a crime. When I looked closer, I realized that the downstairs windows were boarded up with plywood, the upstairs windows were blown out, and the roof had collapsed; the house had recently caught on fire. The blue exterior siding was streaked with ash. This was on a residential street, with other houses and hundred-year-old trees nearby. But somehow the fire, the loss, had been contained within the structure of this home. I only live a few blocks away, but I never would have known about it if I hadn’t passed the house on my walk that day. When I got home, I started a poem about that house and how loss (the initiating spark or match) can begin at the center of a thing and spread, sometimes so quietly. The house was what Richard Hugo would call the triggering or initiating subject of the poem. As I wrote it, the poem transformed into a reflection on the recent end of a four-year relationship I was in — the fire was a metaphor for the circumstances (inside and outside of our relationship) that caused its end. I’m interested in how poems transform and reveal themselves through the actual act of writing or composing, how meaning is made in the moment through image and language, especially the strangeness of language.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I try to write several mornings a week (with coffee, of course) at the desk in my studio apartment. It is right below a window that looks out over a busy city street in the east side of Milwaukee, so there is always something to see or hear. 

Who are you currently reading (and/or) which author has inspired your writing the most?

This is my favorite question! For poetry, I just finished Safiya Sinclair’s Catacombs and I’m currently reading Richard Siken’s War of the Foxes. I used to live in Alaska and I’m interested in how humans imagine and understand wilderness and wildlife, so I’m also reading Sherry Simpson’s Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska.