A brief interview about poetry with Frederick Livingston

“I learned poetry slowly, like a square of chocolate melting on the tongue. In public school English classes, poems were often presented as fragile and dusty antiques: to be taken off rarified shelves and admired, then quickly retired. It wasn’t until later, watching poets perform their work that I understood how a poem can live in someone, throb, and twist like purple nerves.

My work in experiential education, sustainable agriculture, and ecology has taken me across the world, but I always return to poetry. I first wrote to capture intersections of time, place, and emotion in ways more intuitive to me than photography. As I root deeper in these fields, however, it has become clear that poetry is not a vocational diversion, but rather foundational to bringing peace and abundance forward. Before we can reach for more fruitful futures, we must first imagine them.

The Moon and Other Fruits is my first collection of seeds, gathered across eight years and four continents. I generally see my writing as excerpts from one ongoing poem of phenomenon, but I am glad to now have something bounded to share. After much untangling, I eventually found the story my poems were telling about ‘One Ripe Hungry Rising Moon.’ These chapter titles describe the arc of waking up to the pleasure and pain of living and the circuitous path towards something higher than either. The poems themselves rest on tangible encounters, from the buzz of citrus curiosity to the guttural plunge of loss. They record discoveries, like experiencing seasons beyond the four of my native climate. I sometimes find myself returning to these testaments of light when darkness makes sensory truths feel distant. It is my hope they might offer the same to others.

This book marks a milestone on a journey that may have begun with my middle school debut performing ‘Ode to a Chair’ on local access television. In many ways this collection is only another branch, reaching for fruit, for a sweeter truth. My poems invite attention towards details in vast landscapes because what we nurture grows. Noticing beauty, delicate and unshelled, we create space for pain, but also for Earth’s love to flood in. I believe living this intimacy will prove more essential than any technological breakthrough in the trials of our species. Our hands create or destroy depending on the beliefs we hold. My aim is nothing less than weaving new realities from threads of metaphor.

Now I close the soil around this book, step back, and watch what fruit emerges.”