Alexis Orgera: Artist Statement
This is not much in the way of an overarching artist’s statement, but I guess I can say that sometimes I get myself stuck back in South Carolina where I grew up, and the only way out is to write a poem about it. The two featured here are from a series of Carolina poems that look at the small events—killing fire ants with sulfur, somersaulting over the handlebars of my purple Murray Street Machine—that shape a person, or haunt a person as the case may be. Richard Hugo called this recurring need to write about a thing the triggering town, the triggering subject, the obsession, or “those [subjects] that ignite your need for words.” That neighborhood called Wacca Wache Estates in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where I spent only a few years, is one of my many triggering subjects. There’s a fine mist of memory all over that place, sort of like Elizabeth Bishop’s Nova Scotia fishing village where everything—benches, wheelbarrows, lobsterpots, an old fisherman—seems to be covered with the translucent patina of fish scales. Near the beginning of “At the Fishhouses,” Bishop says that the wheelbarrows are “plastered with creamy iridescent coats of mail.” Lovely. There are plenty more triggers, and periods of (un)healthy obsession. Everything’s connected, after all.