What is Primal School?
Primal School is a blog of interviews with poets focusing on a single poem they have written, and discussing what goes into the making of a poem in language nearly anyone can understand. Here is the book that inspired it. The site is also a journal of the creative process, a resource mine, a place to highlight lesser known poets alongside established ones, and share new discoveries in the poetry universe.
In a great book by Randall Munroe called The Thing Explainer, some of the world's most intricate or beautiful technologies are described using only the thousand most common words in the English language. (Microwaves, for instance, are re-framed as "food-heating radio boxes"; the International Space Station becomes "the shared space house"). I think of this blog in something of the same way in regards to poetry: many newcomers to the form seem to get stalled either by the sense that they lack the language with which to discuss a poem, or are intimidated by what they feel is their inability to "get" a poem when they hear it at a reading or encounter it on the page. The goal here is to re-cast and re-present the dialogue around poetry, much of which is lodged in academic discourse and/or jargon, for those on the margins — poets or newcomers to the craft who are not in a workshop or MFA program; or who are simply curious about poetry and unsure of how to engage with it. Far from being an exercise in anti-intellectualism, it's intended as a kind of bridge between communities devoted to poetry and those who want to participate in them but for different reasons are unable to do so.
Why am I working on this project? Partly for my own discovery. But also because it's fun.
Please, not another dead or dying blog. How often do you post?
I post a new poet interview once every other week. Currently I'm working on marrying Instagram and Soundcloud to bring posts that feature poets' "best lines" in modern calligraphy alongside voice recordings of their poems.
What's behind the name "Primal School"?
It's a derivative play on the term "primary school", with its connotations of youth and schooling in the "basics", as it were. The descriptor emphasizes what I see as the primal nature of poetry when it occurs as an emotional and physical experience in the body (whether you know what a caesura is or don't).
But hey now, I still want to know what a caesura is.
Certainly. Here are some great resources to check out.
Who are you?
I'm Hannah and I'm a perpetually beginning student of poetry and fiction, a writer, director of a nonprofit, and a book addict. I live with my husband, a big orange cat, and a marginally productive year-round garden in the woods of Whidbey Island, WA. If you're interested in reading some of my writing, until I build my author website I'll be housing my publications on this site's news page.
I'm a published poet. Would you interview me?
The answer is a strong maybe. As this blog's curator, I personally solicit interviews with diverse poets whose work is in alignment with the purposes of Primal School. But if you're passionate about what the site is trying to accomplish and think an interview would bring something of unique value to its audience, send me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love poets and I love poetry. May I write for you?
Sorry, but at the moment I'm flying solo. If that changes in the future and I open up to collaborators, though, I will update this page to reflect that.
Because pain and love.