Originally published in Willow Springs 82
From the author
Notes on “Draft/Mouth”
“Usually, when I approach a poem, I write from a place of emotional truth yet narrative fiction, but this wasn’t the case with “Draft/Mouth”. I wrote “Draft/Mouth” shortly after my father registered me for U.S. drafting while I was home from college last year. It’s mandatory, so — of course — I wasn’t mad, but it did trigger a series of internal thoughts about being , such as: Why am I worthy of dying for a country, but not worthy of loving in that country? Am I worthy of being an American elegy, but not an American husband?
It upwelled the feelings of shame and self-consciousness I thought I’d long left in my past. I’m the most artistic (and by that, I mean un-athletic) in my family, and I can’t help feeling like there’s an element of hope among family members that I’d mature to be the kind of strong, patriotic man who would jump at the chance to register for a draft. That’s simply not me, and I think — at its core — this poem speaks to the process of trying to accept that over time.”
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
“I’d say that music is central to my connection with artistry. Music helps provide an environment for me to explore and interrogate emotions — fear, shame, desire, pride, outrage — and the language we use to express them. I certainly don’t think emotion needs to be generative or productive — I don’t believe that is the purpose of emotion at its core — but oftentimes when I’m open to and understanding of my emotions is when I’m most able to articulate everything I’ve been wanting to say.
Which songs and which musicians? The usual suspects are everyone from Ariana Grande to Sufjan Stevens to classical music to nature sounds. It really depends on the trajectory and potency of my current mood.”
About Peter LaBerge
Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral (YesYes Books, 2017) and Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His recent work appears in Best New Poets, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Adroit Journal and the founder of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with his B.A. in English last year. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works in content marketing for a startup. For more, click here.