An interview with alumnus Don Colburn (poetry, ’92) about his book, Tomorrow Too: The Brenda Monologues, appears in The Oregonian:
“Brenda Arrieta Killian was 30 years old and four months pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Don Colburn followed her ensuing journey and wrote about Killian’s navigation through the medical community and self in a series of articles published in The Oregonian in 2008 and 2009. Colburn’s latest book of poetry, Tomorrow, Too: The Brenda Monologues, chronicles the story as well, but this time in sonnet form. The result is a moving and humanistic collection of poems, presented from various points of view, and expanding on themes of loss, life, illness, and hope.
Tell me about your choice to write each of the poems as a sonnet. What could that particular poetry format achieve and say as compared to a different choice?
It started as serendipity, and became a choice. The first few monologues came out near 14 lines, and I was determined to whittle down the longer drafts to their most telling details and lyric essence. I never intended them to be formal sonnets, but I liked how the sonnet length gave an unruly story a tight formal symmetry. I called them “fourteeners.” The very arbitrariness of that form became a force for revision. I knew from the get-go that this story would not work if it came across as “warmed-over” journalism in lines.”