Leigh Kotsilidis Discusses Language, Knowledge and Social Convention with the Northern Poetry Review
In a thoughtful interview with the Northern Poetry Review, Leigh Kotsilidis discusses the slow evolution of her poetry, from tales of adolescent insecurity, to experimental works that address existential conundrums, critique institutional knowledge and debunk everyday figures of speech. Kotsilidis' debut collection, Hypotheticals, came out last fall from Coach House:
Northern Poetry Review: According to the cover of Hypotheticals, this collection challenges the infallibility of science and those who “lean on it” as a metaphor to explain the world. What set you on the road to binding poetry to science?
Leigh Kotsilidis: I think it happened over time and naturally. I have always been inquisitive and interested in how and why things happen, it only seemed natural that I would extend this question into the world of science, but at the end of the day I'm not all that interested in sticking to the hard facts. I'm more interested in speculating on how theories and 'truths' might play out in our daily lives. It is in how we apply the information constantly buzzing around us that seems more relevant and revealing to me than the information in and of itself. I definitely didn't start off writing poetry asking these questions. I was a typical teenager when I first started writing poetry regularly, so I was probably asking questions about why so and so didn't like me, and likely through a series of depressing, angsty and sentimental clichés.
NPR: What appealed to you about choosing everyday elements of speech and sometimes turning them on their head?
LK: I'm interested in the everyday, in how people express themselves, often more profoundly than we realize, using common language. My poems are often playing with notions of the profound and the mundane by using everyday speech combined with the rhetoric of science. The second reason I like to use idioms in my poetry is an interest in putting commonly used figures of speech into a context, which draws the reader's attention to their literal meanings. There are so many expressions in the English language that we only use in a figurative way. Some of these expressions, if we look at them literally, make very little sense in the actual context they're being used. By turning these expressions on their heads, so to speak, I'm attempting to redefine the figurative by first pointing out the literal.
Read the full review here.