About Anne Barngrover
Anne Barngrover's third book of poetry, Everwhen, is forthcoming with University of Akron Press in 2023. Her poems and creative nonfiction have been published in journals such as Arts & Letters, Guernica, and Ecotone, among others. She is currently an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is on faculty for the low-residency MA program in Creative Writing. She lives in Tampa, Florida.
A Profile of the Author
Notes on "Princess Mononoke Hits Differently Now"
I barely remember the summer of 2020. We couldn’t travel, of course, and my usual week-long teaching programs switched to Zoom, so the normal markers of summertime just don’t exist in my memory. But I remember my routine—watery, tropical Florida days that consisted of writing poem after poem, baking lemon poppy seed cakes that kept sticking to the pan no matter what I did, and taking sweaty evening walks with my partner around our neighborhood. On those walks, we’d discuss which movie we were going to watch that night; we were going through some Top 100 list. In that first pandemic summer, I was never alone, which surprised me. The trajectory of my life has bent towards solitude, but ironically, in a summer of great aloneness, I was not isolated, I was not lonely. Still, my world felt very interior. Time seemed slippery, untethered. Or maybe it didn’t, and that’s just how I remember it feeling.
One night, we watched Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke—the first time I’d seen it since viewing it as a teenager, when my high school boyfriend and I also went through some Top 100 list one summer. Even though the film is animated, I remember being shocked by the physical violence that first time around. The gore didn’t really affect me the second time (maybe I’ve been desensitized by Game of Thrones) and yet, all I felt was loss. How could the forest regrow when the people had killed their gods? How do you reconcile hope with the point of no return? Maybe what’s surprised me most about this poem, and about that summer, is that I still don’t know how to feel about the time when a story leaves us. I don’t know if “end” is the right word.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
Ok, seriously though—why do some cakes lift up from the pan and some just won’t? Sometimes I feel like there isn’t enough PAM or parchment paper in the world; I suppose that, sometimes, things just get stuck. You learn and try again. It’s cliché, but I’ve gotten really into baking during the pandemic, especially cakes. I’ve been making my way through Yossy Arefi’s pragmatically decadent Snaking Cakes and cycling through every season of The Great British Bake-off. I admire the creativity and imagination of these bakers and how they find inspiration for colors, textures, sculptures, and flavors from unlikely sources in the world around them. A few months ago, I was hiking on a cold, marshy island off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. I couldn’t get over the bog’s combination of colors and textures—the sponge-like, mint-green moss crossed with snake-like, cranberry-red vines. If I were on GBBO, I thought to myself, and if I actually knew what I was doing, I’d make a cake that looked like this landscape. I say all this because I just love how creation—whether it’s writing poems, film-making, or baking cakes—can allow one world to easily transcend into another.