TNSF is excited to introduce our Poetry Editor, Britny Cordera.
Britny Cordera is a proud writer of color and Creole poet, descending from African, Indigenous, and French/Spanish ancestors. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Xavier Review and Auburn Avenue. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where she is working on a collection of poems that explores her uncharted Southeastern heritage.
Follow her on Twitter: @bcdpoet
Recently, we interviewed Cordera about her writing process and influences; you can read her responses below.
What drives you to write? Why does writing matter to you?
Writing for me is an essential way to better understand myself. I thank poetry every day for helping me in this journey of understanding my identity, my community, my history, my emotional world, my experiences. Nothing else in the world has gotten me to the worst and best parts of myself like poetry has. And it is a lifelong journey, knowing the self. Writing for me is a way to connect with these aspects in my life. Without poetry, I feel like I would be more lost in this world and without a voice.
Who are your influences? What is it about their work that inspires you?
Much of my inspiration stems from research and reading outside of the poetry and literary worlds. I love doing research and finding ways to incorporate fields outside of English and literature into my poetry. I did my undergraduate degree in creative writing with a double major in religious studies, so spiritual and religious texts have always had a huge influence on my work. Scholarship is just as important to me as poetry itself. That being said, I am influenced by poets who are interdisciplinary and incorporate their own scholarship within their work. Tiana Clark, June Jordan, Natasha Trethewey, and Eve L. Ewing are a few examples of poets that inspire me.
Tell us about your approach to reading and selecting poetry for the zine.
The South is eccentric, to say the least. In its history, culture, and topography. I would love to see work that invokes these eccentricities, while divulging something new and going beyond the scope of the theme at hand. I like to see work that is already doing what I hope to achieve one day. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, or I’m asking too much, but I need to be able to have a clear, relatable, and vulnerable conversation with the speaker of the poem. Within the vulnerability, I want to see something new and visceral about the human experience, but also empathetic and resonant. To top it all off, it would be awesome to see poems that are aware of their form, narrative, and use of language and the ways these three influence each other. Also, it is extremely important to me that the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQ are presented and represented fairly and abundantly.
What have been the greatest challenges for you in your writing? How do you hope to overcome them?
Focus and ambition are my greatest challenges. Focus to sit down and get the writing done that needs to get done, but also within the poem itself. With every new poem, I find myself delving into rabbit holes of content that get too deep for the scope of a single poem. When I’m not focused, it can be difficult to say what I need to say in a very clear way and to let the image serve the emotional needs of the poem. I find myself often stuck at the precipice of an image serving as a symbol and not going beyond that symbolic meaning into emotional territory. Ambition, though not always a bad thing, can often get in the way of my writing too early in the drafting process. I have expectations for my poems, and when they don’t meet those expectations right away, I get deflated and have found myself abandoning ship when that happens. This has caused me to have multiple poems I am working on at the same time, which again does not help my focus. Developing a writing routine is essential. And including other tasks like reading, research, or playing Animal Crossing within this routine has been helping me. Grad school has helped with that immensely. As someone with ADHD, I need to write in order to focus my passions and obsessions, it can just be a vicious cycle sitting down with the blank page and getting the work done.
What is your greatest writing strength?
Maybe my interdisciplinary inclination is my greatest strength and my ability to reconcile all my varied interests into my writing. I want to be a Disciplinary poet and see myself playing a role in legitimizing contemporary poetry as a primary source for our times for the sciences and academics of the future. There should be more of an overlap between poetry and the worlds outside of poetry. For example, poetry can be a set of linguistic tools to turn science language into something easy and personable for those outside of the ivory tower to digest. And I think it deserves that recognition based on the amount of research writers might put in to produce a poem or collection.
What do you most hope to get out of your tenure with The New Southern Fugitives?
I hope to become a better writer, reader, and literary citizen during my tenure with TNSF, as well as help develop a strong literary community for LGBTQ and BIPOC. I am eager to gain more editorial experience, especially through a venue that fosters a community of marginalized and diverse voices.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on poems towards my thesis which strives to reclaim my identity that is rooted in the South and give voice to my ancestors and their trauma. The poems I am working on right now are spells meant to overcome curses/patterns of abuse, self-loathing, and abandonment that continue to emerge in my family. My thesis is also exploring this idea of Creolization, what it means to be Creole, and to be removed from your home and identity. Right now, I am incorporating research in botany, African American, Native American, and Creole history, as well as ancestral research to produce these poems.
We are now offering Expedited Feedback Poetry Submissions on TNSF. Click below to learn more: