October 31, 2017 orangeq2017

On “Inquiry”: An Interview with Adrianna Sage O’Brien

Inquiry” is a poem by Adrianna Sage O’Brien published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).


What inspired you to write this poem?

Before writing this poem I had aimed to challenge myself to write something short, concise, yet full of mystery and possibility. I tend to write longer, more descriptive poems, so this was both fun and difficult. I had also wanted to juxtapose yet interrelate the external and the internal: objective description and personal relatability. I did this by starting with a more abstract and palpable illustration and then ending with a simple, intimate moment. I was also thinking about how to describe the inner self and feelings through tangible objects, materials, and senses.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

The act of writing poetry is both an outlet for my often chaotic emotions and the way in which I make the internal external: it allows me to relate and project my inner experience onto the tangible, observable reality. Thus, it helps me think, release my inner tensions, challenge myself, and interpret the world. Reading poetry has also had a profound affect on me: I love how it makes me see things in new ways, often more beautifully. I hope that my poetry can do this to readers.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

I’ve been told that my poetry is so inherently “me” and that a lot of the emotionality of it comes out in my inflections and countenance while reading. I like to think that reading my poetry aloud helps to convey its meaning to the audience more easily. Furthermore, a lot of my poetry relies on and focuses on the beauty of pace and sound; I play a lot with alliteration, assonance, and rhythm, some of which is lost when not read aloud.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

My favorite poets and authors are Maggie Nelson, Wallace Stevens, Toni Morrison, Tom Robbins, and Dvid Foster Wallace. I’m often inspired by surrealist or psychological films as well as striking cinematography and attention to lighting. My favorite filmmakers are Wong Kar-wai, David Lynch, Dario Argento, and Maya Deren.


A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Adrianna Sage O’Brien is new to the publishing world. Her poetry is full of obsessions of light, images, and filmic language. Her work focuses on the senses, bodies, and their place in the natural world. Through these meaningful and visceral connections between the senses and nature, she aims to break the barrier between bodies and their environment.

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