James Lindsay: ...What obsessions have driven your poetry?
Emma Healey: ...I think I’m most consistently obsessed with loneliness! That’s a fun answer, right? Loneliness and identity and projection. I’m really interested in how a person builds their sense of self, what they take from the world around them in the process and what they project back out into it. A lot of the poems in my first book were about individuals interacting with the cities they lived in, or with corporations, or with concepts, and the borders between person and entity getting all porous and shifty.
But also, there are the obsessions you’re aware of and then the ones you’re not, right? I was in undergrad when I wrote Begin With the End in Mind, and the poems in it are the first ones I’d written as a (semi-) adult human. Without being particularly aware of it, I think I was also pretty obsessed with conveying the impression that I knew EXACTLY WHAT I WAS DOING AT ALL TIMES, because I was secretly convinced I had no clue. I don’t think the poems in that book are bad, but they all have a kind of arms’-length remove to them – like, there’s no real speaker anywhere, just a lot of voice. It's sort of nuts to be writing a bunch of poems about identity without any real traces of self in them.
- Emma Healey, in conversation with James Lindsay over at Open Book Toronto. You can read the whole thing here.