Sunday, August 9, 2009

Marita Siddal (Vermont College of Fine Arts, 2012)

Halloo everyone! Looks as though I’m the first contributor who is enrolled in a low-residency program? Anyway, quick aside, I encourage anyone interested in the low-res MFA model to check out the Balance & Budget, or How I Chose My MFA Program post on my individual blog. Now to introduce myself . . .

I write both poetry and fiction, and thus far I’ve found my work cohesive in the subjects and themes I approach across both genres – and all the gray area in between.

The entire art world, even beyond creative writing, seems a gray area to me at times. One boundless space for my flurried (and perhaps oft confused and naive) explorations. I’ve been indulging my impulses in visual arts intermittently over the past few years – some amateur photography and mixed media, a couple of introductory art courses and a film minor during undergrad, etc. I have plans to explore poetry off the page with a few simpatico faculty members during my time at VCFA. Many of my primary artistic influences aren’t from literature at all – classical sculpture and Magritte and the film lineup at E Street Cinema, Beck and Thievery Corporation and Spoon and Franz Ferdinand.

I don’t spend a terrible lot of time reading, honestly, for someone who is already a month into her MFA program. I don’t find that this impedes my work at all. Lately I get through an individual book of poetry or fiction plus a gleaning of an anthology or two each week – or maybe that is a fair amount, I’ve always been an exceptionally fast reader so I can’t be too sure. My long-standing heavy favorites are Ted Hughes, Hemingway, and Algernon Charles Swinburne. I try not to let my admiration of Adrienne Rich turn into worship, and I think Tory Dent is one of the most under-appreciated poets of our time.

I delve into other arts extensively whenever I write. I'm always searching for intriguing vantage points in films, which I then turn inside out with words. I find that my own lyricism really wakes up when I enjoy beats rising alongside Beck’s voice sailing urgently through the lines “Now I'm a seasick sailor / on a ship of noise / I got my maps all backwards / and my instincts poisoned / in a truth blown gutter / full of wasted years.” Who wouldn’t want to rip the veil away from the truth of words after that? I also count myself very fortunate for living close enough to the nation’s capitol that I can check out the galleries and museums any weekend I want. On and on, I can’t explain enough how I want the array of arts to melt together. For me, the process feels akin to throwing Aztec chili powder into a mug of dark hot chocolate.

As for the “who what when where why” of my writing . . . I’m invested in what you might loosely call women's issues. The tortures and joys of intimacy, and the manner in which society views a woman’s image are central passions. I'd say that I have equal interest in poetry as supreme pleasure and introspection and poetry as a voice for activism. I’ll lay my darkest “secret” bare here, as I believe it is relevant: I struggled with an eating disorder for much of high school and college. My own experience and my emerging desire to help erode the societal pressures that may pose the same descent for others, all this has been pivotal in my life as a writer. I identify with the confessional poets to an extent . . .

I’ll finish with a quick statement of intent, for those readers who made it through the entirety of this meandering exposition: my overarching aim within my pursuit of an MFA is, naturally, to absorb all I can about craft and form from my mentors and my fellow students – all the while retaining my raw honesty and energy.


  1. Yay and Welcome Marita! You have a lot of interesting artistic interests. Can't wait to read more about your experiences!

  2. When you write something as poetic as:
    "For me, the process feels akin to throwing Aztec chili powder into a mug of dark hot chocolate."
    in a blog entry, it definitely makes me interested in seeing your work.

    Your focus on poet, from the way you describe it, sounds a little like what I seem to be doing now, only from the female perspective.

    In any case, I appreciate your unwillingness to be bound by the barriers of one genre. Very cool.

  3. Lovely introduction! I think the best writers are obsessed with other things, like art. Can't wait to read more of your posts!

  4. Hey Marita, glad you've joined us. Looking forward to hearing about the low-res experience, and your work across genres.

  5. I have two friends who started low-res programs this summer, so I'm also looking forward to hearing about your experience.

  6. I really love Spoon and Franz Ferdinand. Ever heard Art Brut? They have kind of a similar sound. I found Franz Ferdinand after I created an Art Brut Pandora radio station.

    I also really like photography and would like to find some way to merge that interest with my love of poetry. I can't wait to hear about some of your methods of taking poetry off the page.

    Welcome to the blog!

  7. so glad to see a low res person up here! yay! it will be like reliving the last two years of my life :)

  8. We have a few college students online from College of Norwich University and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog Manager Southern Vermont College.

  9. I'm considering a low res program and I'd love to take a look at the referenced article on your blog, but it's invitation only. Mind giving me an invite?

    If you have any questions about me, please email them to me at jwryals at



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