Marie Conlan is a midwest poet living and writing in Colorado, where she is a co-collaborator with the .OFF collective. She was named a finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award for Prose in 2017 & 2018, and a finalist for the Airlie Press Prize in 2018. Her work has appeared most recently in fields magazine, Bombay Gin, and Dream Pop. Her last memory is rhodochrosite, high noon, & the Fool.
Who are you and what’s your zodiac sign?
I am a Minnesota born poet & writer living in Colorado, with a Sun sign in Sagittarius and a Rising sign in Capricorn.
What is [neurotic love baby] about?
[neurotic love baby] is a book about grief, about trying to figure out the difference between loving something and killing it, about co-dependency, addiction, dreamwork, panic attacks, about loving someone so much you become the worst thing for them. It’s about a preciousness that enamors and tortures you. It’s an anxious grasping at the strange intricacies of a relationship, trying to capture its distinct and pungent atmosphere. It’s about holding up the most important thing in the world to you and asking, look.
Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing [neurotic love baby]?
For a while as I was writing [neurotic love baby], I refused to acknowledge what it was about. It scared me a lot. I was writing the poems in hopes of them offering me a witnessing or some clarity, but there was also a lot of bracing, wincing, and tying on the blindfold as they mirrored myself back to me. I kept asking those closest to me, sort of exasperatedly, what in the world is this about? But it was also with this uneasy undertone of like, please don’t tell me what this is about. I was very much writing from the eye of the storm, of a lot of grief and mental illness, and I didn’t want to know how big and ugly the mess was. The writing process then became about “trusting the magic of the process,” which is my really corny way of saying I was too terrified to understand the poems, but I desperately needed them to come out, so out they came. Sometimes I wrote with intention directly into the manuscript, and sometimes I mined poems from endless pages of free writes. I wrote [neurotic love baby] mostly on my bright red deck in the mountains, but also on road trips, at school, on my phone, in many different notebooks, and with the eyes & love of incredible friends & writers.
What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately?
Broken Wings by Kahlil Gibran, Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler, Things Fall Apart by Pema Chrodran, The Stove Is Off At Home by Shawnie Hamer, & forever reading Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing by Hélène Cixous.
A whole lot of gratitude to Metatron for giving a platform to rising authors, and for everyone taking time to read about rising authors and their writing.
[neurotic love baby]
Thumbs like torn paintings. Eyes like ponds stretched over the plains of the middle
west. I keep drinking from this earth & ending up in your eyes. I keep clawing at this earth like I am
unscrewing your spine from you your fucking spine all broken I climb your vertebrae like stones I
throw them like stones away from you get that body off of you it hurts it hurts I almost lost you to the
government I almost lost you to paroxetine I almost lost you to Chicago I almost lost you to the
highway I almost lost you to a dream & where’s your god damn bones now pull the boot straps we’ll
run we’ll run we’ll run
Sometimes I am sending you an embrace from your dead
friend in a dream & when I wake up I know you have had
this dream too. You never remember the embrace.
Sometimes I am taking you to the doctor’s office. Where
does the blood come from? The dream. I awake inside my
hand. I am very blue, and tucked neatly behind the
smooth valleys of my knuckles.
Way down me go. Hands clasped around so tightly.
Press harder. Make space between my skin and your
skin. Press with a heat that is welding. Harder. Sever
the new oneness & repeat again again again & again. I
want to know my separateness while I can. Know the
one do you understand. Do I explain myself well.
Press harder. Again & again & again.
bullet jammed almost lost you & before
I climb into that and [?] You said defeated but
did you think it funny at all how
to eat the crumbles to paste to
wake the sleeping to sleep
against the sleeping to be late and
necessary to hold your keys out
and demand an opening to fit
better when poured with water to
push out to exit to expand inside
of the exit to believe in the ability
for arms to rise and over the head
and keep and forget your
telephone on the carpet to be
deliberate to know the best
feeling in the world and forget
how to go there to know the way
and forget anyways to
We hold very still and let our time & space fabric baby catch up. I
push the aloe over, I push the gravel to the other side of
the driveway, I strike your small hair. We have never caught
up, we have never caught up. My blood moves from left artery to
kitchen flood, my nails grow from cuticle to ripped crescents, your
hand to my ankle & we have never caught up, we have never
When I hold your grief it sews a red thread into mine.
Knuckles are hills, if you want to salvage this.
Crawl up & try to find eyes.
Every choice is so big.
& you you you you