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Today I’m pleased to welcome Valerie Fox to Diary of an Eccentric for the blog tour for her chapbook, Insomniatic. Since it is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be great for Valerie to share a poem from the collection and what inspired it. Please give her a warm welcome!

My Daughter Listening to Christian Tetzlaff

My daughter fell asleep listening
to Christian Tetzlaff.
All 9-year-olds should experience such luxury.

I was disappointed that my daughter
mostly slumbered through
his Selections from Signs, Games

and Messages by György Kurtág, miniatures
that encompass a “unique world
of naked nerves,” multiple voices, tingly details.

Too tired I guess.
She was mildly attracted to the spaghetti strap
girl in front of her

seated in the balcony-right front row,
her lengthy hair and upper body
leaning into air

toward the emotive virtuoso, like she was his
Juliet and his hands were
signaling capitulation.

Jolted awake, finally, by the crowd’s cheers
my daughter faintly registered
Tetzlaff’s smiling encores–

his Paganini
his Bach.

About “My Daughter Listening to Christian Tetzlaff” (and Process)

Insomniatic contains poems that are dream-like or surreal, and also many that contain references to kinds of dreams and ways of being awake (or not). As I was combining poems for this chapbook, I wanted to include a wide variety of styles, but with this semi-thematic thread (of dreams and insomnia). The inspiration specifically for “My Daughter Listening to Christian Tetzlaff” was a real experience, not a surreal reverie or based on my own sleeping (or wakefulness). Rather, it is based mostly on observation of a specific scene.

I think of my poems almost entirely as fictional, made-up. But “My Daughter” is more overtly personal or even autobiographical. It also concerns works of art, in this case Tetzlaff’s extraordinary performances. We were watching him from the balcony, which suggested the scene from Romeo and Juliet. Much of what I write contains reactions to works of art. This habit reflects what I like to do and think about, and how art becomes a lens through which I view and try to understand the world.

Poems are like children. At least that’s what you hear poets say. I think comparing writings to children is natural when we are talking about that feeling or act of creation, or of surprise and discovery that comes about in that process, or even that desire to not give up on a writing (as hopefully we will not give up on any child).  So it felt nice to write something that actually included my daughter, and that she might in the future read and think of in a positive way—even a sentimental way. I wouldn’t mind that.

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing the poem and your inspiration with me and my readers. It sounds like a fascinating collection!

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About Insomniatic

Insomniatic is the newest poetry chapbook from Valerie Fox, author of The Roschach Factory and The Glass Book. These poems haunt and question, dream and wander, asking the reader to question what is a dream state and what does it mean to be awake.

“Insomniatic” (poems) asks the question: Who are we when we dream?

Buy Insomniatic on Amazon

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About the Poet

Valerie Fox

Valerie Fox’s books of poetry include The Rorschach Factory (2006, Straw Gate Books) and The Glass Book (2010, Texture Press). She co-wrote Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets with Lynn Levin. Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (2011, Texture Press) is a collaborative book with Arlene Ang. “Scarecrow Lists of Failures and Grocery Items” (a collaboration with Ang) may be found here, at Thrush.

Her work has appeared in many journals, including Thrush, Painted Bride Quarterly, Hanging Loose, Apiary, West Branch, Sentence, and Qarrtsiluni. Originally from central Pennsylvania, she has traveled and lived throughout the world, and has taught writing and literature at numerous universities including Sophia University (in Tokyo) and currently at Drexel University (in Philadelphia).

For more about Valerie and her work, click here. To read more of her poems, click here.

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