By Emily Lever
The Twitter account @poetastrologers has been a source of joy for people all over the Internet since its creation by "actual living poets" Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov in November of 2016. The duo, known as the "Astro Poets," provide a steady stream of off-kilter, funny, touching horoscopes interspersed with snippets from the work of great poets and writers--including their sign, of course. The Literary Show Project recently spoke with the Astro Poets about magic, poetry, and the magic of poetry.
* * *
The Literary Show Project: How does astrology relate to your work as poets?
Dorothea Lasky: Astrology is part of the fabric of my everyday thinking, so it does poke its head in now and again in my poems. I often surprise myself by having a Pisces or a Gemini character come into my poems randomly, and that instead of their name it makes the most sense to use their sign. That being said, I don’t try to frame much of my work in astrological principles or anything, although believing in it does change my way of writing, I’m sure. I know that I think like the astrological breakdown that I am (Aries/Scorpio moon/Sagittarius rising) and that it affects my work. Or that is to say that my poems behave like an Aries with a Scorpio moon. But then again, my astrological breakdown, I believe, affects nearly everything that I do. I don’t believe that one’s astrology is a fixed plan for being in the world (and writing poems) but I do think it is a crucial lens for doing everything.
Alex Dimitrov: Everything I experience and engage with relates to my work as a poet. Astrology is one of those things. It’s another shifting system through which to perceive aspects of the world and our lives. It’s by no means definitive and it doesn’t provide concrete answers. Astrology takes on human nature, how we live in relation to one another, how we understand the self, and also our relationship to the universe. I like anything that takes on large, difficult questions. In some ways, it’s a jumping off point to other ideas, states of being and understanding.
DL: I am glad to know that they are! I definitely don’t use any rituals that are prescribed. Like I don’t have to put on a cloak and light a candle in order to write poems or anything. Likewise, I don’t do any specific things beforehand to get me in the poem writing mood. But I do believe poetry writing is a kind of channeling. And I do craft my life to allow for as many things to happen, which is a kind of magic making I believe in.
AD:: I think rituals and the supernatural are always popular. Like Dottie, I don’t have any specific rituals in terms of writing and even if I did, to be honest, I don’t think I’d share them because they would lose their power and meaning. I do have certain times of day and certain places I like to walk and be in that definitely enhance my ability to channel. Sometimes that turns into a poem or something like a poem, many times it does not. I certainly have spells that I do.
LSP: Historically magic has been a source of power and healing for marginalized people, particularly women. Can poetry play a similar role?
DL: I think that both poetry and magic are for everyone, and that both are ideal ways for everyone to have a voice in a world that might try to keep them voiceless. What I’ve always loved about poetry is that it resists all means of classification. It truly is about making up your own language and changing the language that everyone speaks. Magic functions in this way, too––it resists dominant structures and organized power and redistributes power to all voices. In my mind, both of these things are our path moving forward.
AD: Contemporary American poetry has a long history of celebrating the individual, singular voice. Starting with Whitman and Dickinson. The external “I” and the internal, at times invisible “I.” I absolutely believe that poetry is a radical tool and can be used for resistance and change. I also believe that poetry can invent and introduce new ways of thinking and being in the world. There’s a lot of power in that, even if unquantifiable in this hyper capitalist culture we live in.
LSP: Did any other poets serve as inspiration for Astro Poets?
DL: It’s always been my dream to organize poems not by historical movements or social constellations, but by the poets’ signs. It seems so clear when you read a poet’s work what sign they are and this seems as good an organizing principle as anything. I think one of our goals with Astro Poets is to bring in more “historical facts” or poets who are now part of history and relate what they have written to their signs. Our old friends and family who are nearest and dearest to us––these poets who have come before us––influence our tweets daily.
AD: I wake up and go to bed with the voices of the past moving in and out always. Lately it’s been the San Francisco Renaissance poets like Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, but it changes every week, every month, every day. I think we want to bring poetry into a larger conversation with Astro Poets. We want more people to read poetry. And we also want to connect people and encourage understanding and love through astrology.
LSP: Your pinned tweet says that as poets you have a direct line to god. How do you access it?
DL: You don’t access it––it accesses you.