DiscoverVerse: A.B. Dillon + Matronalia

Kicking off our second week of ALU DiscoverVerse is prose poet A.B. Dillon whose collection Matronalia (Thistledown Press) looks at the underbelly of mothering and what often remains unsaid from mother to daughter. A.B. joins us to chat about her collection, writing inspiration, and three things she’d have with her if she were in her own Choose Your Adventure story. Read on for that, a poetry prompt to try, and a poem from Matronalia. 


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During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we’ll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you’ll always find your place.) 

An Interview with A.B. Dillon

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing Matronalia?A.B. Dillon: In the writing of Matronalia, I learned to trust process. My intention was to explore the things that mothers tend not to say to their daughters, and to create a dialogue in the work that allowed the underbelly of mothering to be explored in a stark manner. In order to do so, to invite the reader into this space, I had to be willing to be unsparing. ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?ABD: I feel like I’m already living my own adventure story! I’ve come through the trials and illusions of my thirties and forties, and I’m out the other side and on the journey back toward my authentic Self. As for what is essential along this ride, I’d say a can of Pringles, some breath mints, and comfortable footwear. ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?ABD: I draw inspiration from the visual arts, in particular, painting, photography, and film. I’m also one of those lurkers who is listening to how people speak, the turn of a phrase, how words feel inside the shell of my ear. ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?ABD: Notice the patterns that emerge in your days. What images repeat, revisit, call to you for attention? A technique in drawing, “freeing the hand” asks the artist to let go, to arrive at the blank page and learn to become loose, gestural. Poetry, for me, at its inception, is gestural. The best prompts come from the rich fodder of the Self, which the subconscious mind will happily provide, given the ability to pause and simply wait with curiosity.

A poem from Matronalia

Poem untitled
I have to brace myself for holding you. This is part of the
pathology. Involuntary flinching
When you have this disease, understand it is progressive,
I wasn’t this bad when you were little. Calcification was
minor — hardly noticeable even, just a slight tremor of the
heart, a hardening that no one could see, and possibly that
you couldn’t feel.
Now that you are taller than me, now that you need me more,
in those seconds before you rest your head on my raven
shoulder and lean your weight on these hollow bones, before
you wrap your engulfing arms around me, I leave my body.
I’ve tried to plant my feet. I’ve tried to breathe into remaining,
but I vault. I morph. The extra ribs splinter across my guts like
ice fractures.
It sounds like when a hapless bird is startled. It sounds like a
cacophony of hurried wings. And I imagine, while you hang
there, it must be like hugging an unfinished sculpture.
I watch you calculate the ease with which I hold your brother.
This ossification of my heart is my own fault. I see my Medusa
reflection. I do it to myself.
Baby girl, you’d need to be a jackhammer to pulverize this.

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A. B. Dillon is an award‐winning author and educator. Matronalia, her first collection, won the 2019 Alberta Writers’ Guild Award for Poetry. “Miss Mercy,” a selection from the book, was long‐listed for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, Dillon now resides in Calgary, Alberta. She will publish her second collection, Murmuration, this fall.

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During the month of April, you can buy Matronalia and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!Keep up with us all month on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse.  BONUS:Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download.  DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game