Later this spring, Mag Field will publish Phoebe Wayne’s chapbook Transit.
Phoebe Wayne is the author of the chapbooks The Sleep Volumes (dancing girl press) and Lovejoy (c_L press), as well as work in the anthology Welcome To The Neighborhood (forthcoming from Ohio University Press/Swallow Press in Fall/Winter 2019), Meadow's Field Guide, Yew, Horse Less Review, and Trickhouse. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
Here’s Phoebe talking about her writing, work, and daily practices:
My most important daily practice these days is walking in my neighborhood: it’s work for grief, love, survival, and grounding. My 3 year old son Merlin died from a complication of leukemia in September 2017, and I try to take him with me on walks, to hold his presence with me even as I miss him. The walks are my grief space. Also, I now have a young baby named Ambrose, and I like thinking about his experience of moving with me along the same walking routes, first as he grew inside me, and now carried outside my body but on my chest. I’m learning how to be with both of these little people, and my older son Jasper, at the same time.
I love reading essays, especially essays that have a foot in poetry: surprising language, pacing, or sound makes it feel like it might be at least part poem. Right now I’m enjoying Rivka Galchen’s book Little Labors - it sounded like it would be good new-baby reading, and it has been! I also love Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose. I like it when an essay can subvert my expectation that it is going to be authoritative, or that it’s going to be personal - I keep discovering writers whose work keeps me engaged without knowing where we’re going, countering a personal story with the authority of research, or a researched subject with a personal anecdote, all interwoven with lyric elements. I’ve also been reading, with 8 year old Jasper, The Hobbit. And we listen to the soundtrack from the 1977 animated movie version, which was a childhood favorite of mine. He loves it too. It’s great!
Transit is a body of work that comes out of a season of intense feeling in spring 2017 (before Merlin got sick), and urgent daily writing during this time. The intensity has to do with my big feelings about being part of a city community, about working and being with the public, about sharing space. I was feeling newly disillusioned about people - I had a certain amount of political rage, along with shame, guilt and dread. I was sad about this shift in myself, wanting to love and trust humankind the way I had when I was younger. I wanted to trust myself. I was entering a different kind of self-consciousnesses than what I’d experienced before. I was uncomfortable. And yet I clung to my moments of love with the public. Our bodies were/are passing in shared space - hence, Transit. A lot of the writing is about being in public spaces and commuting by bike. Empathy and attention were on my mind.