How Fungi Inspire My Poetry
by Katherine Factor
Invited by Female and Fungi for a month-long collaboration, I am sharing collages and excerpted poems from a collection of mine, Many Had Parasols, a book built around the power and life cycle of a mushroom: from the generative spores, to sexy fruitbody, to universal veil-launchpad, to mycelium of hopeful networks. The parasol is the guiding shape, it is literally and figuratively an arc. For the shape of the mushroom canopy feels ultra protective, a huge hoop skirt to hide under, Emerson’s Oversoul. Poems take place in half-lit and mutable spaces, all negatively-capable. There is a speaker feeling her way through the dark and dirt in search of the switch to illuminate a possibility, even a new polity.
John Cage made accurate assessments about the enamoring capability of mushrooms, how close they come to the word “music” in the dictionary, a species whose mysteries “escape all erudition,” thus making it perfect material for poets. Thoreau thought that fungus was nature emptying herself out, putting her colors forward as evidence of her restorative might. The work of modern mycologists indicate that mycorestoration is not just for soil rehabilitation*, but a guiding poetic principle—poems are akin to mushrooms: they find life in waste, they can infiltrate, shift the invisible to the visible and viral, turn sorrow into attention, ratify moments into a surprise or oddity, and reveal natural language as neural and connected.
Hogwild indeed, I foraged deep in the mud studying ethnomycology, drawing from myth, music, archeology, natural history, and neurotheology. The poems make use of hybridity and white space, organic form and sound. Therein: prophesy, invention, alchemy and phallic worship. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of my work and then ask you to share your own Mycopoetry!
I hope you enjoy this partnership with Female and Fungi — make sure to check out my poems throughout the month of June! And if you have any MycoPoetry of your own, please email us to possibly be featured on the blog: femaleandfungi [at] gmail [dot] com.
About Katherine Factor
Katherine Factor lives in Portland, Oregon where she is an instructor of writing at Concordia University. She has her MFA in Poetry from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has recently held positions as the Poet-in-Residence at Idyllwild Arts Academy and assistant editor of inter|rupture, a journal of poetry and art. Her poems and audio work can be found online and in print at Wave Conjunctions, Interim, The Conversant, H_NGM_N, Quarterly West, Poets for Living Waters, Occupy Poetry, DIAGRAM, the Colorado Review and at Coldfront’s Poets off Poetry.