The HCR Interview with Dena Rash Guzman

It's my pleasure to offer you this brief but personally important interview with the person I call the David Bowie of Poetry, Dena Rash Guzman. Dena was one of the first poets we published here at Hobo Camp Review, and her work seeks to challenge, entertain, enlighten, and rock out. But challenge might be the key word there. Dena tackles important issues with incisive daggers and lines, stanzas and razor blades. Her game is strong, especially when she's not playing games anymore. I have known few poets as fearless as Dena, and it's an honor to have her back. Please do seek out her work. Thanks.  

Hobo Camp Review: You were one of the first poets who came to the camp and helped get us started. I think it was sometime around 2009/2010. How do you feel you’ve evolved as a writer since that time? 

Dena Rash Guzman: Yes! I'm so glad I found the Camp. You were the third editor to ever publish me, and your encouragement was important to me. I've written since I was a child, but I got more enthusiastic and open about it when I reached my thirties. Then, I wrote up to three or four poems a night. I read and wrote late into the night each night. I still work the same way. The output is different now. My poems aren't only love poems now, and I've also written plays, personal essays, book reviews, and short stories.

HCR: In the years I’ve known you, you moved from Las Vegas to the wilds of Oregon. How did this affect your poetry, if at all?

DRG: When I moved to the Oregon woods, I was isolated. Town was a dangerous 25 minute drive and I had no friends. During that time, the beauty and unrelenting horrors of nature began to deeply inform my work. That's not to say I wrote only about nature, but the wild solitude and loneliness crept into my writing, and my hands worked in soil, and I learned to use a machete, I kept bees. Then, I became involved with the nearby Portland literary community and one in Shanghai, but before those things happened, it was me and a lot of trees. I was isolated to the extent it concurred to me that Thoreau was a poser. He could walk to town in a few and had many friends.

HCR: What’s the best thing you’ve read so far in 2017? And who else are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months?

DRG: I'm awful at answering this question. I have a huge stack of books I'm working through. Huge. I'm reading a lot of literary journals as well. I'm listening more closely to the voices of the marginalized.

HCR: If you could enact one rule of thumb that all poets or editors or writers in general must follow, what would it be?

DRG: No haiku except Japanese haiku.

HCR: What was your last “writing revelation” that you picked up along the way, a process or idea that made your writing easier, bolder, fresher, or more productive?

DRG: I let go of the fear of upsetting social norms and establishments.

HCR: Do you have any new books or projects that are you working on? What’s the driving force/inspiration behind your current work?

DRG: I'm writing a book about the universe and my female ancestors. Joseph, my recent book, is a study of a woman's response to oppression. It veers from empathetic, lovelorn, furious, and hilarious. Now, I want to write a book about survival of the women whose blood runs in me.

HCR: You’re on the road with three other artists, of any era and medium, of any level of fame, success, or anonymity. Who do you choose to travel with, and why?

DRG: I want to travel with Anthony Bourdain, because he has great leads. Knowing people who live in places new to you, that's very helpful. I would love to travel from front porch to front porch with poet Lucille Clifton, and finally, my dad, who is not only a writer and painter but incredibly fun to travel with.

Bio: Dena Rash Guzman poems, short stories and plays have been published, performed and anthologized in Las Vegas, Shanghai, San Francisco, Madrid, New York, Portland, and beyond. She is the author of Life Cycle (Dog On A Chain Press, 2013) and JOSEPH (Hologram Press, 2017.)

She lives near Portland, Oregon.

Her latest book can be ordered here:

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The views and opinions expressed throughout belong to the individual artists and may or may not coincide with those of the other artists (or editors) represented within the magazine. Hobo Camp Review supports a free-for-all atmosphere of artistic expression, so enjoy the poetry, fiction, opinions, and artwork within, read with an open mind, and comment wisely. Thanks for stopping by the Camp!