About Emily Schulten
Emily Schulten is the author of The Way a Wound Becomes a Scar (Kelsay Books) and Rest in Black Haw (New Plains P). Her poetry and nonfiction appear widely in national journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Tin House, among others. Currently, she is a professor of English and creative writing at The College of the Florida Keys.
A Profile of the Author
Notes on “Dismantling” and “Motels We Stay in While Trying to Get Pregnant: The Gables”
“Dismantling” is a poem that moved from a question of where the past has gone, tangibly, toward the question of where it has gone intangibly. So often, when something moves into the realm of the past, it seems emptiness – or something lesser – has been left in its place. I think the part of coming of age that involves the loss of things that were iconic – the end of icons – is a macrocosm for the personal losses that a person starts to realize are part of aging, particularly in middle age. The poem is an inspection of nostalgia’s truth and lies.
“Motels We Stay in While Trying to Get Pregnant: The Gables” is from a series of three sonnets, each based on a different experience of staying overnight in or near Miami for failed fertility treatment. This one progresses from the speaker’s current mindset which, like the motel, is uncomfortable and vulnerable, to the speaker’s physical failure, to the speaker’s emotional deterioration. The poem ends in the discomfort of both waiting and not being able to be in control of the situation. I suppose there is some hope there – in that irritation of waiting and the unknown, but at the center is this feeling that something you have never had, something you can almost feel to the touch and that has been part of your identity your whole life, has been lost.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
I’ve been making a playlist for my son for the past two years. The idea began as a way to impart taste, or to brainwash him into positive associations with tunes I’m partial to, but I think I chose those first songs to bring him closer to some ideal time or times in my own life. From the moment he was born, perhaps before, there is this urge to keep him close: you give birth to this little gremlin, and he goes from being so completely dependent on your body to immediately learning how to be independent from you. Immediately. I think instinct tells us to keep him tethered. The first songs were a lot of folk rock, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline and Neil Young, some Elvis ballads and lots of Roy Orbison. Now, though, he has opinions. (Independence and all.) I’ve added jams he prefers, like “Fool in the Rain” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” But I have to say, he seems to take after his dad here, surprising us with an affinity for Black Sabbath from infancy. The saving grace is that he’s always been soothed by Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck. But that’s a whole other playlist.
Also I have a toddler, so wine. I’m drinking lots of wine.