Front Line BBCRadio4 aired 3 August 2020 19:15hrs BST
Presented by Kirsty Lang
Author and poet Barbara Kingsolver in conversation on her second collection of poems How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)
“This poem is about how in a physical way, in a metaphysical way, in a biological way, nothing ever dies. Behold your body, there’s water and there’s minerals; think where it’s gonna go, it’s never gonna be lost; and this is what I told my children when they were small, and asked me what happens when you die. I talked about trees, I talked about soil and minerals and compost and when a tree dies it turns to soil and then another tree grows from it.
“We don’t like to talk about it generally but it’s the same for us and I think it’s a pretty beautiful story, and that’s how we fly, we ultimately evaporate but it’s not an easy thing to think about it, especially in a culture that doesn’t like to think about the finite nature of life and of bodies.”
“I love the idea of me ending up as a leaf and flying into the sky when I die, I find it very positive ...”
Yes, I love that idea, too.
Barbara Kingsolver then read the title poem
I bought the book on Kindle straight away as hardback isn’t available for a couple of days, but it’s already on my letter to Santa. I haven’t read the whole book yet, but from what I have browsed so far it is a treasure chest filled with similar pearls of reflections on simple subjects such as a broken leg, family, knitting, and even sheep shearing, all gifted a unique insight by the biggest human heart.
I don’t presume to compare my drawings with Barbara Kingsolver’s poetry, but my use of evaporative marks and transformations of objects (recently, templates) try to express a similar concept: nothing goes away, it just changes, because we are composed of parts of the universe. I am encouraged and inspired by her writing.