Artist Spotlight: Lily Duffy
Meet Lily Duffy: Poet, editor, and life of the party.
I remember, years ago, hearing Lily read a poem about a blind date at a red-themed restaurant. The interior was painted red, its patrons wearing red, and even the food: red. Sometimes, when I’m driving to and from various obligations, I hear her words, unexpectedly, and there they ruminate like setting your favorite jam to play on repeat. And like all great jams, the playfulness on the surface of the song invites us to leap, headfirst, into its undercurrent looking for the subtext of the melody. Red: the color of love, but also the color of violence, the color of hegemonic sameness and the uneasiness it gives the speaker. It’s a haunting juxtaposition.
I find a lot of these surprising juxtapositions in Lily Duffy’s work and I’m always craving more. When asked how she defines a poem, she said, “[it’s] an experience [that] puts its reader through something. But a poem can do or be whatever it wants because the writer has language and language is a system of conversion. That system will fail often, of course, but failure creates a space and sometimes that space is habitable.” It’s within the failure of language that poems exist, but the way Lily Duffy embraces these failures in her work—the gaps between thoughts, emotion, and desire—is what gives her work the kind of lyrical interactivity that allows her work to situate itself deep within the reader’s mind.
It’s uncanny, really, I have difficulty recalling a lot of things (e.g. last Sunday’s plots in Game of Thrones), but I can tell you the speaker in that red poem was wearing purple; I can tell you this displeased her date.
She is currently working on two projects, WROUGHT, which “revolves around femininity, beauty products, skin rashes, intoxication, cruelty, and shame, among other things” and a newer manuscript, currently untitled, that explores “labor and commerce and their effects on identity, the body, temporality, social interactions/transactions, family, and the abilities to produce and connect with art.” You can, and probably should, read an excerpt from WROUGHT here.
And if you want to read more “aesthetically diverse” writing, check out DREGINALD, a journal co-edited by Lily Duffy and Rachel Levy (CU Boulder alumni and currently Ph.D Candidate at the University of Utah in Creative Writing). “We want to put together issues full of works that speak to each other in ways that are interesting and urgent. We want readers to form their own opinions about the work we publish.”
The origin of the name DREGINALD in and of itself is another kind of Duffy poem. “The name DREGINALD comes from a phone call I received about four years ago. I answered the phone and I heard someone say ‘can I speak to DREGINALD?’ and I said ‘REGINALD?’ and she said ‘DREGINALD,’ and I said – and I don’t know why I said this – ’he’s not here’ and hung up.”
Several months later, DREGINALD was born.
The moral of the story is, put Lily Duffy on your radar. Her readings are ones you don’t want to miss!