A poetry writing workshop is one of the settings in Complementary Colors. A character says, “I felt there was something elemental, crucial, tangible about the making of a painting or a poem that seemed—what?—sacred?” Does the poet have a vatic role that is above or beyond gender?
That’s kind of cool to think so, but I really don’t know. I do think words are magic. So maybe poets are sorcerers. That line from my novel is spoken by the narrator, Gwen, when she is just opening up to the world in a new way. It’s a transformative time—and poetry plays a big part in her transformation. But it’s not like someone waves a magic wand or one poem does the trick. She’s ready, she’s open to seeing the world in new ways, which is why it’s suddenly possible for her to write poetry and to fall in love with a woman for the first time. So perhaps that’s what’s beyond gender: when you are in a transformative state where supposedly common-sense boundaries begin to morph. Certainly poetry does have the potential to help us see something in a completely new way. That sounds akin to a spiritual experience.