COMING OF AGE THROUGH ART

Port Townsend graduate publishes first full-length poetry collection

Posted 8/6/22

Local poet Zinnia Hansen — who graduated last year from Port Townsend High School — has recently published her first full length poetry collection.

A self-reflexive yearning to …

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COMING OF AGE THROUGH ART

Port Townsend graduate publishes first full-length poetry collection

Posted

Local poet Zinnia Hansen — who graduated last year from Port Townsend High School — has recently published her first full length poetry collection.

A self-reflexive yearning to understand existence is at the core of her book, “Spikenard,” coming in concentrated form in the line, “I can almost, almost / pull myself apart.”

Spikenard, also known as muskroot, is an essential oil derived from flowers that grow in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. The oil has been used since biblical times and is said to have been poured over Jesus, upsetting his disciples because the valuable oil could have been sold with the funds used to feed the poor. Jesus disagreed with their anger saying, “She has done a beautiful thing.”

A beautiful thing is what Hansen wanted her poetry collection to be and a beautiful thing it is.

God, ghosts, and gratitude for human form are a few of the main subjects Hansen probes in the book.

Diving into her body and beliefs with the fine-tooth comb of verse she finds, “the mother, the daughter, and the holy spirit. / Russian nesting dolls filled with moist earth.”

Masks within masks, the multitudes of life contained in a scoop of soil, with these Hansen discovers how little she knows, how little any human can know.

One of her working titles for the book was “Iconography,” the name of Hansen’s favorite poem in the collection, but she thought that lofty title was perhaps beyond her.

“I realized I didn’t have enough life experience to be an iconographer,” Hansen said.

Like many poets wise beyond their years, Hansen sees the shadow of her youthful follies which she has now recorded for the ages.

“It’s water under the bridge. But it’s also part of the glorious river,” she said reflecting on those mistakes that she’ll now always be able to look back on.

In that way, “Spikenard” is a coming-of-age story, except instead of the traditional form of the novel, Hansen uses disjointed and flowing free verse.

The tragedy of youth comes out in poems like “I Don’t Know How to Pray,” which also contains references to the landscape of Port Townsend.

“They say downtown, resting peacefully at the bottom of the hill, / could be underwater in the next 50 years.”

Alongside recurring love for her Port Townsend roots is the recurring love for her roots in the poets who came before and inspired her words. In particular, Federico Garcia Lorca gets specific acknowledgement.

“My favorite poet is Lorca,” Hansen said. “In Search of Duende,” Lorca’s collection of poetry and prose stands out for her.

“I carry it around and it’s kind of like my bible,” she said.

An affirmed agnostic, what Hansen says she loves so much about Lorca is his commitment to passion rather than transcendence.

“Things don’t have to be reconciled,” she said, adding. “There’s just so much I don’t want to have to reconcile yet.”

As she ages out of her teen years and begins to enter the all too unreconcilable adult world, Hansen seems ready to take the good and the bad that will come her way while seeing the beauty in both.

Hansen will read poems from her newly published book at Finnriver Cider Garden and Tap Room at
6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15.

“Spikenard” can be found at bookshop.org.

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