Finishing Line Press
“I believe in human potential, the ability for life to heal, the creativity of the human spirit, the intelligence and sacredness of the interconnected web of life.”
So writes Renee Podunovich in her new chapbook Let the Scaffolding Collapse, a collection of intimate and expansive poetic morsels that explore the peeling away of the facades humans create in exchange for a vulnerable presence in the world.
While there may be no such thing as the average writer, Podunovich is far from being one of the usual subjects. A passionate scribbler and alchemist of feeling into image, Podunovich also studied psychology and sociology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor with her office near Durango.
“I’m interested in the patterns of my inner life, how they are congruent or not to patterns in the world, how they influence my relationships to others, both in positive and negative ways,” Podunovich said. “In counseling, I have the honor of being able to support others as they explore those dynamics for themselves.”
Growing up in a family of writers, including a mother with an master’s degree in journalism and an interest in Jungian psychology, Podunovich started writing when she was 15.
“It was very spontaneous ... Suddenly, I had found a way to make sense of my world: both the inner world and the outer world ... It has been a tremendous gift,” she said. While she dabbles in other forms, including short stories and personal essays, “I always come back to poetry.”
On the page, Podunovich manages to be as raw as she is tender. She tackles with wry humor the paradoxical idea that writers write about themselves even as they depict other people and other landscapes in “This Poem is not about Me”:
“Those fabrications/ are now just a dime that fell out of someone’s/ swimming trunks. Just like that./ surfs and settles in the sand. Now forgotten./ and the water is so large, unimaginable./ and remember. I was just a swimmer nearby./ It didn’t happen to me.”
In “Falling Down the Chimney,” Podunovich depicts a woman under pressure and on the verge, who “didn’t notice that the seams of her suit are near bursting/ and underneath the stage makeup-/ fear of falling.” Her image gives us a clear, gently comical vision of a person intimate with stress, a stress embodied by a need for control even as she comes apart from the pressure, an endless cycle of search for security.
Podunovich depicts the sexes experiencing moments before personal collapse. In “Never Say Later,” the opening lines reveal another pressure-cooker situation with darkly comic tones: “He should never say, We’ll talk later, darling./ when what he really wants to say to her is,/ You are driving me crazy and I want to shoo you/ the way I want DEET to keep the mosquitoes/ from the tender flesh of my inner thighs.”
While she finds inspiration from the reading she does in her writing group, literary favorites include Sylvia Plath, Mary Oliver and Rumi. With interests ranging from new poets to these classic voices, Podunovich says, “It is a poetry buffet out there.”
Her topics never shy away from human psyche’s shadows, and Podunovich’s bravery as an artist is clear.
“I want to offer something healing and beautiful, even when the topics are difficult or uncomfortable. Every artist knows how much courage it takes to put work out there. It’s like saying, ‘Here I am. I have to do this and this is how I do it. This is what I have to give.’”
Chelsea Terris is a freelance writer and social media specialist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.