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Published on July 26th, 2013 | by Laetitia Laubscher

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What’s in the Pot Makyla Curtis

Poetry is the runt of the litter when it comes to the arts. Most people see it as a pretentious teenage whim or a way of taking a bucket-load of clichés and putting them in a rhyming blender to see what happens. Roses are red, we get it already. For most, some of the great poets like Ginsberg, Blake and Notley are names that most will never know.

Makyla Curtis, the current editor of Potroast a zine which features on work that’s experimental and exploratory, be it visual or literary, has a different take. “If you view poetry in the same way as art, and look for the same things, they are the same. The only hard thing about poetry is that you can’t glance at it and know you want to keep looking, not like in art.”

Her zine focuses on ways different visual and literary genres can crossover and affect each other – things that are flash-fiction but maybe also be poetry, or illustration which maybe also has a story, that sort of thing.

Writing was an innate part of Makyla, having been “one of those children who didn’t draw pictures but what looked like writing.” Aesthetically she also liked what a full page of texts looked like, so had initially started writing stories just to fill a page.

Poetry however, was a love Makyla inherited from her grandfather. Although he wasn’t a published poet, he would always write beautiful, but quite surface-level poetry in everybody’s Christmas and birthday cards each year. Although after his death they found some of his work “which had a lot more going on in them, especially the ones he wrote during the war.”

“When I started writing at eleven I actually started passing off his poems as mine, which everyone from the outside thought were amazing. There was then about a two year period where I transitioned and started writing my own work but where he would help, or help finish the poems off. By high school I was doing my own work. From the outside there was always a consistency to my poetry, although internally I had to build that confidence.”

Nowadays, the type of illustrations and poetry she prints doesn’t really make for a family-friendly experience. “I was 21 when I published my first zine which had a birthday poem in it. My entire family read it and were super supportive. The second zine I published had a poem by  Daniel Mainwaring in it which was ‘pushing it a little’, it had a lot of forward movement in terms of style and I can’t quite remember but I think there was an insinuation to masturbation… no one in my family wanted to read my zines after that.”

Not that it bothered her much “poetry isn’t just accessible to everyone. If it is just for ‘the people’ it can’t move forward. To try continue making it accessible to everybody would be to put shackles on it. Art isn’t accessible to everyone either, not everybody can go into a gallery and understand what the artist was trying to achieve.”

“You can restrain yourself so much by thinking about an audience it gets boring, to everyone, and yourself. On the other hand, if it gets too extreme, no one knows what you’re doing. The best work straddles both.” To stay alive and relevant, poetry (and art) needs to “have some kind of personal element and at the same time have your expectations of art expanded to give us something new to think about. It may just be recognition of a particular emotion or it may be our perception of poetry or what’s going on in politics.”

Written by Laetitia Laubscher

Photo credit it to Samantha Leigh

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