Kristina Marie Darling has been described by literary critics as “haunting” and “mesmerizing” – fittingly, her residence with Surel’s place occurred during October of 2016, a month associated with spooks, mystery, and magic. But this is no trick. Decomp Magazine clearly points out that Darling is “strong in the sense a magician is strong: not a master of stage tricks, but a worker of subtle miracles.” Kristina Marie Darling has worked these miracles in twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose, which include Vow, Petrarchan, and Failure Lyric, forthcoming from BlazeVOX Books.
Darling was one of the most highly reviewed artists invited to be an artist-in-residence during this cycle. Surel’s Place review panelist and local author Samantha Silva wrote “I love the experimental nature of the work — the “mash-up” between literary and scholarly — she wants to do at Surel’s Place. Very much what’s happening in the world NOW.”
At Surel’s Place, Darling continued work on a new collection of poems, which took the form of a textbook introducing students to formal literary study. The book includes several variations on the prose poem, which range from footnoted texts to palimpsests, erasures, and word collages. Poetry using footnotes? Darling explains “footnotes, glossaries, and appendices invite the audience to take a more active role. I like that readers are surprised when texts make these demands, and ask them to participate in the work of the poet.” Is this something scholarly in a literary costume? Darling aims to parody attempts to categorize and label and suggests instead that the boundaries between critical analysis and creative writing can become indistinct if one allows them to be.
In her workshop, Darling let participants try these experimental forms on for size. The workshop focused on forms that are seldom taught in creative writing classes, such as erasure, the prose poem, flash fiction, and “found forms” (like footnote poems, glossary poems, and other templates that are not germane to poetry). She offered her wide range of teaching experience to the community, having taught at the University of Missouri, SUNY-Buffalo, and numerous courses on creative writing and experimental literature at the Chicago School of Poetics.
Darling came to Surel’s Place from Buffalo, NY where was working toward an MFA in Poetry at New York University. She holds degrees in English Literature and American Culture Studies from Washington University, as well as an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri. A graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo, she is also Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly, Founding Editor-in-Chief of Noctuary Press, and Grants Specialist at Black Ocean.
Darling is not new to residencies. Surel’s Place was honored to be part of an esteemed list, including a Yaddo residency and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. She has also held artist-in-residence fellowships at the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Ragdale Foundation. Kristina is the recipient of international literary arts fellowships from the Hawthornden Castle Retreat for Writers (Scotland), the B.A.U. Institute (Italy), and C.A.M.A.C. (France), as well as artist grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her work has also been recognized with the Dan Liberthson Prize from the Academy of American Poets and nominations for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award, the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award, and the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Book Award.