Tyree Daye: “A List of Waters”

5 October 2017


Interview Excerpt
Tyree Daye, with Southern Cultures Poetry Editor Gabby Calvocoressi

Tyree Daye. Photo courtesy BOATT PRESS.

Gabby Calvocoressi: Hi, I’m Gabby Calvocoressi. Welcome to poetry at Southern Cultures. I’ve got Tyree Daye here with us today. We’re super excited. Tyree, you are the first poet to have a poem in Southern Cultures magazine just as I’ve become the poetry editor.

Tyree Daye: Nice, nice. Yeah.

GC: And I was so excited to have Tyree give us a poem. I first encountered Tyree’s work when I was reading for the Honickman First Book Prize through the American Poetry Review. I read so many manuscripts and Tyree’s poems just completely stuck out to me. And then it turned out—out of the blue—that we did not live far from each other. So, this seems like an amazing way to start my tenure here at the Love House with Southern Cultures—this idea of a poet I loved who turned out to be my neighbor. And we’re really hoping to bring poems to you both in the journal and also at “Poetry on the Porch,” our new reading series, that feel really surprising and also familiar to you in ways that I hope we all get to talk about.

Hey, Tyree.

TD: Hello.

GC: Would you be willing to read the poem that you have in Southern Cultures magazine?

TD: Yeah, I would love to. Thank you all for having me. This is really great. I love this campus.

 

A List of Waters

1.
The scar that flows from my aunt’s thigh
to the boulder of her swollen ankle is a map
of the Haw River,
each toe a Blue Heron.

2.
My mama’s water
Is all water, I’m ever river rock
inside her being smoothed over

3.
The palms of my uncle’s hands
are the Deep River when he is holding a gutted trout.
Always something
Bleeding.

4.
You saw her bloody
and did nothing,
you Yellow Perch.

5.
My uncles sinned openly
on Sunday,
fed in the daytime,
a White Catfish.

6.
My smallest cousin is a salamander in their father’s
Neuse River arms, legs hanging there
like Blackwater.

7. Every woman
who has ever told me to clean my face
is the Atlantic Ocean.

 8.
The shoreline of this beach
is also a history lesson,
these sea shells
have blood on them.

 9.
I dream mostly in floods.

 

 

TD: Thank you.

GC: Thank you so much, Tyree. I love that poem. Where are you from?

TD: I’m from a little town called Youngsville—Youngsville, North Carolina. It’s in Franklin County, northeastern North Carolina.

GC: What’s it like?

TD: It’s small, very rural, tobacco, like your standard North Carolina tobacco town.

GC: Did you write your poems when you were there?

TD: No, I didn’t really. I say that I didn’t really get serious about writing until like my junior year of college when I really was like, this is what I want to do. That’s when I started going back and started writing about, you know, these past experiences.

GC: Yeah, it’s interesting, one of the things that we have in common—one of the many things it turns out we have in common—is we both live near rivers. We both grew up near rivers. What was it like growing up near a river and how did that go from just being a place you live near to a place you wrote about?

TD: When I was little I definitely, you know, we played near rivers all the time, and I took it for granted, right? This was a playground. This is what we did. But I think, for me, I got older and I was like, Oh, I miss those times. And I was like, Oh, maybe I’ll start exploring this river. You know, of course, if you explore a river magical things are going to happen.

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