Lately the discussion surrounding quantum entanglement has taken over my brain. It\’s incredible how our vast universe affords us moments of full theme manifestation in our lives — if we are open to it. I adore Claudine Nash\’s work as she is honestly such an authentic creature with so much insight and gratitude. There is something to be said about the exploration of what our inner core reveals about ourselves and how we reconnect to our memories from the days of old. I am genuinely delighted to have read \”Beginner\’s Guide To Loss In The Multiverse\” it\’s a carefully layered fictional love story in poetic form. As I was reading I was reminded of two movies that I completely relish Cloud Atlas & The Fountain — as with both these films \”Beginners Guide To Loss In The Multiverse\” will become a classic to be studied and appreciated. See for yourself on Amazon! And, actually while you are there check out Claudine\’s Author Page — so many thoughtful books at the ready for purchase.
Although Claudine, is treating patients now her unit closed in the Spring — if you think she chilled during this time you are so wrong. Claudine was offering emotional support to the medical workers at her hospital. That is the kind of devotion we require. Humans who regardless will always be there for others!!! I\’d like to thank Claudine for her immense service to humanity & for her incredible contribution to the world of poetry.
RMMW: CONGRATULATIONS on winning the 2020 Blue Light Press Book Award for your poetry book: \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’. How does receiving this award make you feel?
CN: Thank you so much Rania. It was such a surreal experience! I had been working in a hospital hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis when I got the call from Blue Light Press’ chief editor Diane Frank. I stepped out of a very heavy meeting to take the call and slipped back in holding what felt like a piece of light. I was so grateful to have something to balance out the bleakness of those weeks. I was also so pleased not only to have this manuscript recognized for the award, but to have it published by Blue Light Press. Having worked on this project for close to six years, it meant so much to have it land in such caring hands. I’ve really appreciated the incredible guidance and support that they have provided.
RMMW: \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’ is obviously very carefully layered. Can you please explain to everyone your breakdown in sections from the first \’Beginners Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’ to the final section \’A Stunning Matter\’?
CN: The book itself is basically a love story set in the multiverse, a realm of infinite possibility where the same moment can unfold in a number of different ways in vastly different-looking universes. Each poem in the collection occurs in its own universe. Akin to the theory of the multiverse, sometimes the setting in that poem looks dramatically different from the universe we know, other times the setting may be similar but the story has a slightly or dramatically different outcome. What is consistent throughout all of the universes, though, is the depths of longing and the universality of love.
The eponymous first section “Beginner’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse” contains poems about loss set in very varied looking universes. For instance, sometimes the dinosaurs still roam, sometimes we cohabitate with robots or can see stories drifting from muscles. The second section “Magnolias” is a moment that plays out in the same magnolia grove, but with four slightly differing endings. The third section “Entanglement” are all poems inspired by the concept of particle entanglement, but instead of particles impacting each other, it is two people in two different universes that are entangled so that something done by one is felt by the other. The last section “A Stunning Matter” contains a number of pairs of poems where the outcomes of the same scenario vary greatly in the two universes in which they occur.
RMMW: Did each of the numbered universes look different in your mind as you wrote \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’?
CN: I wrote the book over the course of many years because it was a challenge to think of so many different universes at once. For the collection to work, the universes all needed to differ either in appearance or outcome. I wrote this book on the side while writing my other two collections Parts per Trillion and The Wild Essential so I could just drop a poem or two into it as a new universe spontaneously came to me.
RMMW: What is your favourite piece from \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’? Mine is a toss up between \’Time Capsule Universe 31,197\’ as it honours precious memories of days past and affords a moment of comfort via the consciousness that\’s been tethered to these items. And, \’The Making of Memory Universe 101,177\’ this micro stanza says it all for me \”You are standing in a moment on my favorite piece of ground\” I\’ve never thought of the importance of the actual place including the earth we stand on as a memory is being formed — beautiful concept by the way.
CN: Thank you. I’ve always tried to memorize my most favorite moments so as to pull them out and replay them should I ever need them later. Being able to replay vacations is coming in handy now that my travel is so restricted! It’s hard to pick a favorite poem, but I would probably say the first poem in the Magnolia series because I loved the idea of seeing someone in such an atypical way as a landscape. The lyricist in me was also really satisfied with the way the language flowed through that one. I probably had the most fun writing the two “Since You Left” poems though, as I enjoyed the challenge expressing the same idea in two such different-looking universes.
RMMW: Why was it important for you to number the various universes and not name them?
CN: I really wanted to capture the randomness of the multiverse and the notion of possibilities being limitless and infinite. Somehow I felt as though I could do that more effectively with numbers than with names. I wanted to capture the idea that you could pull any universe out of a hat and that same moment could be expressed differently in it or the moment could be the same but the world in which it occurs could be so unrecognizable. Besides, if I used names for the different universes, I’m sure by the end of the book they would have all started sounding like they came out of some really goofy sci fi film from the Fifties!
RMMW: How often did you think of quantum entanglement as you wrote \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’?
CN: Oh, there is an entire section dedicated just to particle entanglement! I find the language of science and theories of quantum physics to be so poetic and quite romantic in and of themselves. I wish I had studied it in university. My Ph.D. is in Clinical Psychology, not physics, so it felt more natural for me to write about this theory of systems being seen as inseparable wholes rather than groupings of individual particles through the lens of an interpersonal relationship.
RMMW: What do you want readers to take from \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’?
CN: I would want people to walk away from the book appreciating both our differences as well as our common humanity. Like the multiverse, our experiences and lives are all so different from each other, but love and loss lie at our universal core. It is what connects us.
RMMW: What inspired \’Beginner\’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse\’?
CN: The idea first came to me after reading an article that a friend sent me on Multiple Interacting Worlds (MIW). A spin off of the Multiple Worlds theory, MIW theory not only speaks about the existence of parallel universes, but suggests that those parallel universes could possibly interact with each other. I thought it would be so exciting to write a book of poems where characters from one universe get a glimpse of the life they might be leading in another. While you can see this idea play out more in the last section of the book in the “It’s a Given” and “Somewhere We Are Carpenters” poems, I ended up expanding the collection to include poems where the parallel universes remained parallel and did not interact.
I’d have to say though, like with most of my poetry, my background as a psychologist and the years of bearing witness to themes of loss and longing were probably the biggest inspiration. I think the multiverse is also such a compelling theory for anyone who has experienced a loss, including me. It is so simultaneously sad and comforting to think that that there might be a universe out there that we can’t access where we are still with our beloveds. It’s such poetic material.
RMMW: I have to admit, I relish how you structured your poems. The variety is insane, which as a reader I totally appreciate. Why did you feel it was essential to select pieces that differed in formation?
CN: It all goes back to the multiverse! I thought that if I was going to describe all of these vastly differing universes, it would be important to vary the styles and visual appearance of the poems. My intent was also to write a fun book that balanced the heaviness of loss with the lightness of humor, so some of the poems needed to be entertaining. Given the pandemic, I hope that the collection can allow people to enter a lighter, alternate universe for a few moments so they can take a much needed break from the stress of our current situation.
RMMW: Did you purchase a new pair of Docs to celebrate your publication?
CN: For the first time, I did not! I grew up always being described as shy, but poetry readings have taught me that I’m really more of an introverted extrovert. I do like putting myself out there, but just need a LOT of quiet, down time to recharge in between events and interactions. Wearing a funky pair of Doc Martens boots to a reading honors that secret outgoing side of me that enjoys feeling like a rock star! Given the pandemic though, I knew I wouldn’t have any in person events to wear them to for a while, so I’m holding off for now. It’s just as well. I’m sure I’ll be able to get a fun pair for a good price when all this is over and I’m ready to get back out there!
Bio: Winner of the 2020 Blue Light Book Award for her collection Beginner’s Guide to Loss in the Multiverse (Blue Light Press, 2020), Claudine Nash is a psychologist and author of four other poetry collections including the full-length books The Wild Essential (Kelsay Books: Aldrich Press, 2017) and Parts per Trillion (Kelsay Books: Aldrich Press, 2016) as well as the chapbooks Things for Which You Thirst (Weasel Press, 2020) and The Problem with Loving Ghosts (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She has also edited three poetry anthologies, most recently Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love (Transcendent Zero Press, 2019). Her work has been nominated for the Pulitzer, Pushcart and Best of the Net Anthology Prizes and has earned numerous literary distinctions including prizes from such publications and artistic organizations as Artists Embassy International, The Song Is…, and Eye on Life Magazine among others. Internationally published, her poetry has appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.