Deanna Young: The title refers literally to dreams involving houses. Ever since I can remember, houses have featured prominently in my dreams. I’m in an empty house filled with light, or a house crammed with furniture and shadows. I’m approaching a house that stands alone in a field and am overcome with sadness. I’m climbing stairs to an attic, in search of something I never find, or descending stairs into a basement. When I began assembling poems for this collection, I saw houses everywhere, and that some of the poems were dream based. The psychologist Carl Jung theorized that the house is an archetypal symbol of the self or psyche, and that makes sense to me. The poems inhabit a range of eras in my life and are arranged, roughly, from recent experience to past. They sometimes call to one another across the eras. I’ve recently started referring to the book as a “reverse memoir in verse.”
IFOA: What draws you to poetry as a form?
Deanna Young: I am drawn to the gaps, the leaps, the terrible fear and thrill of the next image. Nothing in life makes sense, nothing is complete, nothing is perfect, nothing can be resolved, not one hundred percent, and poetry admits that, it embraces that mystery and the tragic human struggle toward meaning. It aims for what cannot be said—maybe bravely, maybe foolishly—and is incinerated just before impact. At its most successful, it gets as close to the sun as any earthly thing can. I was recently helping my son practice long division, and so I will say that with poetry (and I mean the real thing here) there is always a remainder. But the remainder is not just at the end of the poem, it must be scattered throughout. I think I am drawn as much to that remainder—the lingering buzz of “that which was meant”—as I am to the near-truth of the near-perfect image or metaphor.
IFOA: How has your work developed or changed since your first collection?
Deanna Young: In terms of technique, I hope it has changed dramatically. My first collection was published prematurely (and utterly unedited) when I was 20 years old, and I would be glad if no copies of that slim volume remained in the world; except that the first small murmurings of my voice are there, clearly, and so I try not to be too cruel when I look back at the book. I remind myself that I was young, a mess, and trying to do my best. Thematically, I believe my work has changed very little. So far I keep pacing the same field—trauma, grief, redemption, the soul’s survival.
IFOA: What is the best thing you’ve read in the past six months?
Deanna Young: There are two best things:The Gathering and The Green Road by Anne Enright.
IFOA: What are you working on now?
Deanna Young: I’m working on a book of poetry that is also a gathering of voices.
Deanna Young’s writing has appeared in journals across Canada and in 2013 she received the grand prize in the PRISM international Poetry Contest. She lives in Ottawa where she co-directs the Tree Reading Series. Young presents her third collection of poetry, House Dreams, which was a finalist for the 2015 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. House Dreams is a haunting sample of the life we all live underground, and a view beneath the foundations of the various eras and places that make up one woman’s life story.