December 2016: Emma Camp
Emma Camp is a seventeen-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, and the Blog Editor of Sugar Rascals. Her work has been featured in Canvas, Blue Marble Review, The Interlochen Review, Sugar Rascals, Rookie, Girlspring, Cicada, Aura, and Polyphony H.S., and is forthcoming in Venus and The Orange Island Review. Her work has been honored by Hollins University and Gannon University, and has been awarded two gold medals in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Emma is an avid member of the spoken word community. She attended the 2016 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam in Washington DC, where she was a finalist for the #itooamamerica poetry contest, and was privileged to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She also received first place in the Birmingham Public Library's high school slam, WordUp! In her small amount of free time, Emma can be found enthusiastically performing Shakespeare and cuddling with her cat.
-After the Isla Vista killings
A hand passes over my mouth.
Skin fluttering, something rustles.
Like a bee. Like a girl’s skirt.
I must imagine her with skin peeling.
Body curled into gunshot.
Caressed like a jackknife.
I must remember all the times men
have slipped their hand around my waist,
palm pressing into ribs.
How soon before a glance becomes blood.
Lips part just to choke out seafoam,
mouth seizing over screams.
A hand passes over my mouth.
Red that soaks into blonde, little by little.
Rippling like the open part of a wound.
A Conversation with Emma Camp
Richa: What is your definition of creativity, and how does it relate to your poetry?
Emma: My definition of creativity is the ability to find the remarkable in the clinical, the glimpses of magic and metaphor in the simplest of actions. So often, my poetry deals with subjects of political importance, and I believe my responsibility as a poet is to find beauty and meaning in such casually reported subjects.
Richa: What do you believe is the best poem you've ever written? Would you mind telling us more about it?
Emma: That’s a hard question to answer because it’s always changing for me. I write constantly, and find myself falling in love with different poems just as often. Right now, I think the best poem of mine is “In McCalla, Alabama, There is Screaming”. I began writing it last summer, when a man living less than a mile from my house murdered his entire family. It was a very real and visceral tragedy for my community, and through writing the poem, I was able to understand my own mourning, as well as explore the themes of victimhood and violence against women.
In McCalla, Alabama, There is Screaming
When the man down the street
murdered his family, the house
was as open as a prophet: a girl’s
skirt splayed apart like hydrangea
petals peeling over
into ceramic white.
There is a stillness to be found
in bullets to the head, the way thirty-six
puckered wounds grew
soft under mother’s quilt.
I like to think the street bled after.
Concrete unfurled as a scream
the bodies yellowed into quiet bloating.
Richa: Is poetry your main avenue to creativity, or do you dabble in other art forms as well?
Emma: Poetry is the dominating art form in my life, but I’ve been having an ongoing love affair with Shakespeare for several years. The two worlds of poetry and theatre often collide for me, resulting in a two-month period last year in which I demanded to only write Shakespearean sonnets in iambic pentameter, officially crowning me the queen of nerds. Performing Shakespeare is what makes me happiest in life, and I find that theatre, especially Elizabethan theatre, is a fantastic way to stretch one’s literary muscles without necessarily writing.