Sophie Zaffina is a 2008 Oregon Literary Fellowships recipient in poetry, the winner of the C Hamilton Bailey Fellowship.

Sophie earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. She works as a medical referral coordinator at a homeless health clinic, and says “my poetry is mainly concerned with exploring the sensual and evocative aspects of both the ordinary and extraordinary events and circumstances of our lives.”

Does Sophie have a writing schedule?
I don’t have a writing schedule–the rest of my life is very schedule-driven, and I am a very non-time-oriented person. Writing tends to happen for me when I feel moved to write, and when I can make the space and time available. It’s pretty rare for the writing mood to coincide with free time and space, so I end up mostly writing in snippets of time that I “steal” from the rest of my life. I generally don’t have long enough blocks of free time that I even need to think about settling in to writing–when I’m inspired to write, I just grab the soonest space I can find and plunk myself down in it–then I completely lose track of time!

What is she currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on several poems that were initally written over the last 5 months. I tend to write a poem relatively quickly, and then spend a long time revising it. The poems I’ve been working on since September 2008 don’t have any intentional relationship to each other, but I’ll probably find that some of them feel very related.

What inspires Sophie?
My son has inspired me more than anything else, since his birth in 2003. Actually he’s been the primary creative force in my life since I found out I had succeeded in getting pregnant. Other things that inspire me are the natural world, folklore, other writers’ words, and my observations of people.

Poetry judge Larissa Szporluk had this to say about Sophie’s work:

“These are worlds in which an octopus and scaffold, not in the same poem, are yet neighbors in the deep unifying imagination that informs this poet’s work: they are linked by structural opposition because hers is that true place of poetry where paradox is the norm.”



Crows

Ragpickers, harbingers of the dark,
we come home, small
gods of witchgrass,
too fat and rowdy to fruit the young
crabapple.  Mouthy,
we talk for the sky.
We swoop and ruckus,
rain like a handful of bent screws,
rebar, an unctous gloss.
Pears go soft in long grass
the way air
fleshes into a bird,
its body the space vacated
by tongue, lips,
by leaf and kindling.
Nothing in this world is all
the destruction of light
but we come closest.
The body, unrooted oracle,
worships unearthed moons of the eyeless.
We open our mouths to the falling.

— Sophie Zaffina


Happy Birthday Oregon! Oregon turns 150 tomorrow, and the State Library has created a list of 150 Oregon Books for the Oregon Sesquicentennial.

Matt Love will host a reading tonight at Powell’s for Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon’s Sesquicentennial Anthology. Gina Ochsner, Brian Doyle, Bart King, Kaia Sand, David Horowitz, Katrine Barber, and others will read.

On Saturday, Matt will read from the anthology in Newport as part of the Writers on the Edge series. Joining him will be Dorothy Mack, Niki Price, Carla Perry and Andrew Rodman.