Elena Karina Byrne on Poets Cafe

The following interview of Elena Karina Byrne by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission).

Biographical Information—Elena Karina Byrne

Elena Karina Byrne, the author of Squander (Omnidawn 2016), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and The Flammable Bird , (Zoo Press 2002), was the former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America, Executive Director of AVK Arts, one of the recent final judges for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Awards in Poetry until 2018. She was also part of the West Hollywood Book Fair’s Planning Committee for many years and worked with Red Car studios editing several documentary film projects including, The Big Read, Muse of Fire and Why Shakespeare? Elena is a freelance professor, editor, the Poetry Consultant & Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club. She also works on poetry programs with the Craft & Folk Art Museum and sits on the advisory board for What Books Press.

Elena received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from Beyond Baroque’s Literary Arts Center. Her book reviews and poetry publications, among many others, include the Pushcart Prize XXXIII, Best American Poetry, Poetry, Yale Review, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Slate, Verse, Ploughshares, The Dublin Review, OmniVerse, Diode, Black Renaissance Noire, Volt, the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Persea Book’s The Eloquent Poem and BOMB. Elena just completed a new manuscript A Game of Violence and a collection of essays entitled, Voyeur Hour: Meditations on Poetry, Art & Desire.


That court gives rank for autumn and winter, after my

milk bath, in front of a mosquito’s net, musical motif, when

the advent-end of the 17th century pulls back the bow. When

you first costume, when you come home, story-making. Black

wings of hair, binsashi bone pins, women come now servant to 

the Tama river, washing courtesan brocade, multi-coloured on

a screen, its new lovers kneeling. I too turn cinnabar-red by hand

paint, vertical to horizontal, lost memory sheets showing months.

What pattern singing from this color page reaches you in secret?

No one sees ahead, eyes, half-closed, not looking up when walking.

Butterfly halo above trees. Kimono sleeves open: my tiny hands now

down a carried landscape, and beneath the obi fold, the clit sex-knot

hidden like a dinner bell underwater, like the impermanence of

hello or farewell, like violence rhythmed in the mind after war…

From the manuscript: One Game of Violence.