Meet Tafisha, a Cave Canem fellow

Jane Goodall wrote, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” Our volunteer staff at Little Patuxent Review works tirelessly behind the scenes to read your submissions, edit the draft and create the final printed journal. In other words, it means something to them when your work gets published (almost as much as it does to you). Since our submission period for Winter’s Myth issue opened on August 1, it’s a great opportunity for you to meet them. Over the next several months, look for fun and interesting posts about our stalwart volunteers.

Tafisha Edwards.

Tafisha Edwards.

Today’s highlighted volunteer is Tafisha A. Edwards, a Guyanese Canadian poet and producer who lives in Washington D.C.

How long have you been a volunteer reader for LPR? I’ve been a volunteer reader for LPR since August 2014.

What’s your process for going through submissions? I first have to ensure I’m in a neutral and receptive head space. Then I make a goal for myself about the amount of submissions I plan on reading and set aside an hour or two to get to work, and of course remain flexible about that goal. I take notes on the emotional temperature of a submission as well as its stylistic thumbprints and then give myself a break and return to the submissions for a final check in with myself. It’s very easy to get fatigued.

When you’re reading a submission, what draws you most about a piece? A strong opening line coupled with an uncanny knowledge of how to employ line endings. A poem that forces me to across and down the page and holds me in escrow until the last line and then still doesn’t release me.

What turns you off immediately when you read a submission? Vagueness. There is a distinction between selective obfuscation of the emotional/narrative/structural landscape of a poem and a poem lacking definition.

Also “my lover” poems. My lover does such and such. My lover is at such place doing such vague thing. I’ve written far too many of those, where the lover is a device and not actualized in any significant way. Now I demand details from myself and from the submissions. Why do I care about this unnamed lover? If you won’t tell me a name then I want the most sublime and foul details in that poem.

Who has informed your reading tastes most? Why? It’s not so much who as what has informed my reading tastes. I am drawn to the mystic, for poetry and fiction that is rooted in the intangible as much as it is rooted in the physical and the particulars of its creator’s, speaker’s or characters’ lived experience and/or politics.

What’s on your nightstand right now to be readI’m notorious for beginning a book and then becoming distracted by another books, so it’s not so much what is on my nightstand but what is slowly taking over my house like vines and taking up psychic space. I’ve promised myself by the end of the summer I would finish Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World, Mary Ruefle’s Trances of the Blast, Aracelis Girmay’s Teeth and Kingdom Animalia as well as Dawn Paley’s Drug War Capitalism.

Are you also a writer/poet? If so, tell us more. I am a poet. What that actually means in my life is constantly in flux; at this moment poet means I am a truly my mother’s, mother’s mother, mother’s mother’s mother’s daughter. I am my maternal aunts and cousins. The women in my family dream dreams and tap into a non-academic, non-linear, intangible stream of information and can translate it for those who may not have honed that ability, the only difference being I transcribe and publish and they do not. Being a poet also means I am familiar with writing my poems in my own blood.

What’s your Six Word Memoir? Yours in Fury and in Laughter.

Do you have any superpowers? If not, what do you wish you had? I am, at select times, intuitive. Only if I am in diligent in recognizing and avoiding distractions. I come from a family of women who understand the language of dreams, so we ingest information in non-linear and circular ways. And that is essentially my superpower.

Online Editor’s Note: Tafisha A. Edwards is a Guyanese Canadian poet and producer who lives in Washington D.C. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Bodega Magazine, The Little Patuxent Review, Fjords Review, Fledgling Rag, Vinyl Poetry and other publications. She is a Cave Canem fellow, the recipient of a Zoland Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House, and a former educator with the American Poetry Museum.

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