Published April 26, 2022

Danielle Beazer Dubrasky, author of Drift Migration, is a writer and professor. Her work focuses on the natural world, and has appeared in many publications such as Pilgrimage and the South Dakota Review.

Get to know Danielle in this Q&A and then join us on Thursday, April 28 at 12 PM ET to hear her in conversation with poets Kathy Davis and Cathryn Hankla as they read from and discuss their recent collections. This virtual event is FREE to attend and open to the public. To attend, please register to take part on Zoom or simply make plans to watch the livestream on Facebook.com/VaBookFest.

Festival: Where did you draw inspiration for your most recent book?

Dubrasky: Drift Migration is a compilation of several sources of inspiration. The first three sections use various myths such as The Sand Man and Orpheus and Eurydice in contemporary settings. The book’s final section, “Vespers in the Great Basin,” explores the idea of place and displacement. I grew up with a strong sense of connection to Charlottesville and the Albemarle County landscape in the 70s prior to extensive development. When my family moved to the desert of Southern Utah in the early 80’s after my father’s death, it was very difficult for me to return back to Virginia since I no longer had a home. So, I wrote about the place from my memory as well as the desert area that I was getting to know. The Southern Utah desert is surrounded by strata of rock that expose epochs of time which inspired poems that look at the idea of layered time and of the past moving into the present.

What are some challenges that you encountered in your writing process?

One primary challenge is finding the time to write. My most productive writing times occur when I am able to attend writing retreats. Because of COVID-19, many writing retreats were on hiatus. I am very excited that I will be returning to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in June as a Fellow. Many poems from my book were completed during previous fellowships at the VCCA.

What types of preliminary research do you do before writing?

For the poem “The Sand Man” in Drift Migration I did extensive research on some of the myths I refer to with which I was not familiar—mainly the sand man—even down to what makes up particles of sand and to the different types of sand. I also read about the night-blooming cereus flower, an important image that shows up in that poem. I researched the geology of the southern Utah landscape and the fossils from Utah’s ancient seas as well as consulted with colleagues who are geologists and archeologists.

What are you working on next?

I am working on a collection of essays that I may turn into a hybrid collection with some new poems. 

What books are you currently reading or excited to read soon?

I have been reading other books by contemporary poets—currently I am reading Nancy Takacs’ Dearest Water. I am forward to reading The Glass Collection by Arthur Sze as well as Kimberly Johnson’s new book Fatal.

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