How Not to Need Resurrection

They alone understand the trick is not to try...

Michalle Gould: "When it becomes real, it will change them."

In this video interview, Gould talks about the adaptation process and the importance of letting go of your own preconceptions about your work in order to fully appreciate the filmmaker’s vision.

Scroll down for another interview in which Gould discusses the poem’s inspiration, rhyme and recitation, and what it was like having her poem adapted into a motionpoem.

Interview with Michalle Gould

by Kevin Danielson, Motionpoems Citizen Journalist

Michalle Gould
Michalle Gould

“How Not to Need Resurrection” was inspired by Michalle Gould’s deep fear of death that stemmed from childhood. This fear formed the basis of her first full-length poetry collection, Resurrection Party, which was released in 2014. Death is front and center in this poem, as Gould reminds us “that once you believe in death, you must surely die.” But the poetry in her collection isn’t just concerned with death in a physical sense, but as a metaphor for transformation.

Gould has poems published in Poetry, Slate, New England Review, and other journals. She obtained an MFA in Creative Writing and currently works as a librarian in Hollywood.

In addition to poetry, Gould is a fiction writer and is doing research for a novel. In this interview, Gould discusses her writing process, the themes of Resurrection Party, and how seeing her Motionpoem helped her gain a new perspective on her poem.

What inspired you to explore the themes of life and death found in this poem?

I’ve always had a pretty intense fear of death. When I was younger, around elementary school age, I think I was almost obsessed with it. None of the images that appeared in popular culture of an afterlife really made sense to me or appealed to me so it was hard for me to take comfort in them. I also had a deep fear of losing people I loved, although I was fortunate enough not to face any unexpected deaths or tragedies that I can really remember. I think I wrote about death often in order to try to make peace with the idea and inevitability of it. I’m not sure it’s ever completely worked, but it’s something I keep on doing!

The poem uses rhyme, which helps the reader relate to the idea of childlike innocence. Was this the intention of the rhyming verses? Describe the overall writing process.

I was fortunate enough to have teachers who encouraged memorizing poetry and reciting it aloud. I know not everyone enjoys that; but I loved it, and in high school I memorized “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” just for fun, to show that I could! The first poem I ever memorized was “Dover Beach,” and I still can recite most of it by heart, though I haven’t read it on the page for years. For a while when I would work out on the treadmill, I’d just think of the poem inside my head while I walked. I think because of that, the sound of poetry has always been very important to me when I write and I generally either speak it or at least think it as I’m writing.  This is a poem that I wrote very quickly, so I didn’t think consciously of how rhyme related to its themes, but exploring rhyme and different ways of using it while avoiding that “forced”/sing-song-y cadence that can sometimes result if it’s not used carefully is a longstanding interest of mine.

How does its message relate to the overall themes found in your poetry collection Resurrection Party?

Resurrection Party is deeply concerned with death, not only as a physical fact, but also as a metaphor for change and transformation–almost the Tarot card version of death, I suppose! The poem also employs the idea of death in that way; when it becomes real to the children in the poem–either because they experience it or because they become old enough to understand its inevitability–it will change them.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading “How Not to Need Resurrection” as well as your other works?

A friend once told me that my poetry made people “feel less alone” and I hope that it expresses emotions that sometimes people might be scared to express or to admit to, and that, in doing so, will help readers feel that those emotions are not shameful or strange. I also want my poems to be beautiful in their language, to be pleasurable to read, and hopefully memorable.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself and your poetry?

I really enjoyed the experience of seeing my poem made into a film. What I love about poetry is that there are so many different ways to read a poem, and having a film made out of your poem is a really unique way to view someone else’s perspective on your work and what they get out of it. Because I wrote this poem so quickly and instinctively, I’m not sure I had ever really sat down and reflected on what I actually meant by it, and I think this whole process has helped me understand it better than I did before.

Kevin DKevin Danielson is a Professional Writing and Communication major at Southwest Minnesota State University. He serves as the news editor for The Spur, and is the student coordinator of the campus Writing Center. He completed a communications internship with Motionpoems over the summer.