This week we’re featuring a poem by Katie Chaple, from her just-out first book Pretty Little Rooms (Press 53). Chaple teaches poetry and writing at the University of West Georgia and edits Terminus Magazine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Antioch Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Southern Humanities Review, Washington Square, among others. She was the recipient of Southern Humanities Review’s Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award.
This poem began with the similarity between “cardiologist” and “cartographer,” which may mostly exist in my own head and/or imagination. My cousin is a resident at Emory University and specializes in matters of the heart—he studies the parts, the chambers. The poem grew out of a conversation with him about some studies, trials he was running. Of course, there is the physical notion and the emotional notion of heart that I’ve tried to bring together here, as well as attempting to push the poem along by moving the personal into a more public sphere. The poem was a joy to write—I chased the idea through it, allowing myself to be playful once I’d made the original connection. I’ve attended many a seminar, many a convention, and pulling such a dry thing into a concept (the emotional idea of “heart”) that is so mysterious and infinite seemed a natural way to define and control it, to reign it in, which is what the poem itself calls for. The conceit, too, of the maps, legends, etc. is another way of providing physicality to the figurative subject matter.